By Bernie Petit
Think back to your engagement, the time you landed the lead role in the school musical, when you overcame personal tragedy – whatever your best story is.
If you were limited to 100 words, could you tell that story?
It’s the task professional and student filmmakers undertook for the 100 Words Film Festival. The second annual event returns to McGlohon Theater in uptown Charlotte Nov. 6 and 7.
Each film delivers a compelling tale using exactly 100 words, challenging filmmakers to focus on the essence of the story.
“It’s a celebration of concise storytelling,” said festival founder and director Scott Galloway.
Beyond those 100 words is a concept Galloway says democratizes filmmaking. It took him 15 years to get his first film into a film festival.
“I didn’t have the financial means to do it,” said Galloway, a documentarian and founder of Charlotte-based Susie Films.
By limiting dialogue, the festival provides a venue for inherently short films made without the budget constraints of feature-length movies.
It allows professional filmmakers to experiment with storytelling or camera techniques they wouldn’t necessarily attempt for traditional films. Student filmmakers get their work seen because “one, they can afford it and, two, creatively they can get their arms around it,” Galloway said.
Last year’s inaugural festival drew more than 60 submissions, with 30 being premiered at a sold-out McGlohon Theatre. (“Every film in our festival is made for the 100 Words Film Festival,” Galloway said.)
This year, the festival expanded its outreach to local student filmmakers in part through the support of an ASC Cultural Project Grant.
Local college students are paired with charitable organizations such as Camp Blue Skies, Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency and The Green Teacher Network to make films about their work.
“It’s a win for the charitable organization because it gives them the means to have their story told and it’s a win for the students to have their films shown at a film festival,” Galloway said.
The ASC grant also helped increase the films presented and extend the festival to two days. The expanded festival will include a seminar on Nov. 7 featuring Shadow Distribution president Ken Eisen, Emmy-nominated director Andy Abrahams Wilson (“Under Our Skin”) and actress and filmmaker Karen Young (“Jaws: The Revenge,” “The Sopranos”).
Just under 100 submissions were received for this year’s festival, with 35 being shown over the course of both nights. The longest is nine minutes; the shortest is just over a minute.
Keeping track of the words is a countdown clock in the corner of the screen, an idea Galloway got after watching his kids watch YouTube videos.
He noticed how, after a minute or two, they would scroll down to see how much time was left in the videos. He started playing around with the idea, eventually deciding to track words because they’re not as finite as time.
“You get immediate buy-in,” he said. “It’s like, ‘A film that’s only 100 words? I think I can do that.’ It’s a minimal time investment.”
Want to Go?
The 100 Words Film Festival is Nov. 6 and 7 at McGlohon Theatre, 345 N. College St., Charlotte. Tickets are $10 per event (Friday and Saturday night film screenings and Saturday afternoon filmmaker seminar) and $24 for all three. For more information, visit 100wordsfilmfestival.com.