FARMINGTON — A local group of film enthusiasts called Four Corners Filmmakers has produced a short film that is on the short list of finalists for the National Film Challenge.
The competition, which took place over the first weekend of November, invited filmmakers from all over the world to compete to make the best short film in a matter of only three days. To win the competition, Four Corners Filmmakers now needs the community's help to go online and vote for their film before Wednesday's deadline.
The film, titled "The Hero's Apprentice," was produced, directed and videotaped by local independent filmmaker George Thomas, and tells the story of an aging "hero" who is trying to turn over his legacy to a younger, technologically-obsessed apprentice.
Thomas explained that entrants to the contest were given two genre choices at 7 p.m. on a Friday, and were also given a prop, a line of dialogue, and a character to integrate into the film. They then worked nonstop over the course of the weekend to write the script, come up with costuming, prop and a musical score. Theyn they had to film and edit the four- to seven-minute piece and upload it by midnight the following Monday.
Thomas said the group didn't sleep much that weekend and survived on pots of coffee, but they managed to get the film submitted just four minutes before Monday's deadline.
"We were given the genre of superhero, a magnifying glass as a prop, the line, 'it's not over yet,' and the character 'Sam Grady, Fitness Instructor,'" said Thomas. "The group had twenty-four ideas that we brainstormed on, and we picked the top four. Then we narrowed it down to one script, which was written by Thomas LaRue. It was challenging and a lot of fun to get together with all our friends to work on this."
Jeremy Orr plays the close-to-retirement hero, "Night Terror," who becomes frustrated with his younger and technologically-distracted apprentice, Sam Grady, AKA "Fowl," played by Brit Ward. During the piece, instead of helping Night Terror ward off attacks from villain "Figaro," played by Thomas LaRue and his evil sidekick, "Freakshow," played by Daniel Cabrera, Fowl, who works during the day as a fitness instructor, is busy texting, tweeting, hash-tagging and posting photos of the action-packed battle.
All filming takes place in Farmington, with one scene on the lawn outside the Farmington Public Library.
Orr, who teaches at Aztec High School, said the theme of getting distracted by technology at the expense of losing touch with the "real world" is something he observes daily.
"We've all got our smart phones, and it's very easy to get sucked up into technology and ignore the world around us," he said. "That seemed well worth a satire."
Orr, along with Thomas and other local film-makers, has competed in this annual competition several times before, making it to the final round in 2005.
"Participating in these competitions, where you have to do everything on the fly and work non-stop for three days straight, is always a challenge," he said. "The hardest part for me is the initial step of coming up with a story that gets everyone excited. But the films are a lot of fun to make."
Thomas said two winners will be chosen from eighteen entrants -- some from as far away as Italy. One winning film chosen by a panel of judges will be shown at next year's Cannes film festival. The other first-place winner will be the film that receives the most online votes, and it will be shown at the Filmapalooza film festival in New Orleans next March, along with the judge-chosen winner. Cash prizes will also be given for the top two winners, and twenty additional awards will be given for categories such as "best use of prop," and "best use of character."
In addition to encouraging people to get online and vote for the film, Thomas said he hopes to get the word out to others in the community who are interested in filmmaking that his group exists.
"I'd like to see other people interested in film making get involved, and I encourage them to contact us via our Facebook page." he said. "There they'll find a group of people who are here to help with films, and to exchange script and film ideas."