Blaine students contestants in Guerilla Film Project

Published on Thu, Mar 5, 2009 by Sam Kaas

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It’s a good time of the year to be a movie fan. The fall and winter run of traditionally high quality films is now waning and it’s the perfect excuse to rent all of said winter films and watch them one more time.

And those who are fed up with all the awards-show buzz don’t have long to wait before summer movie season rolls around, bringing with it the usual deluge of effects-laden blockbusters and superhero sequels.

For some young Whatcom County filmmakers, however, the action over the last President’s Day weekend wasn’t in Hollywood at an awards banquet or on a studio backlot. It was right here, with the 5th Annual Guerilla Film Project, which ran from February 12 until February 15. The event, sponsored by the Pickford Film Center in Bellingham, challenged teams of three to five high school students to write, film, edit and present a high-quality three minute short film – and do it all in 65 hours. As if this wasn’t complicated enough, the teams had to integrate two props and one line of dialogue – randomly chosen out of a hat by event organizers on Thursday afternoon – into the films.

This year, the props selected were a Blackberry phone and a queen of hearts card, and the line of dialogue was “Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t.” Altogether, 17 teams from around the area participated in this year’s competition.

Among the participants in this year’s contest were some Blaine high school students, who presented a film called “Bad Day.” The film followed a high school student through a series of unfortunate social mishaps, and eventually all ends happily.

At the Sunday morning showing, Blaine student Armando Gomez was pleased with his team’s film. “I think we did pretty cool,” he said.
Gomez mentioned that this was his first time participating in the event. He said that the team had to deal with some obstacles before they could present a finished product. “We worked really hard the first night,” he said, “…the second night we ran into some problems with shooting and with the editing programs.” With only a few days to work, they found that every moment was precious. “That night, we were up until about 2:30 in the morning,” Gomez said.

“We had to change some things as we went along,” added Cody Richardson, who wrote the script for the film and also appeared onscreen alongside Gomez. Richardson said that his script had to be shortened, modified and edited on the fly in order to keep within the time limit.

Other Blaine students participating in the Guerilla film project were Craig Goff, Madison Ellis, Sierra Johncox and Julian Bach. While some were in their first year as short filmmakers, all of them seemed enthusiastic about trying again next year.

At the Sunday morning showing, it seemed that everyone was in good spirits, including one intrepid team who, upon realizing that their film had no sound, narrated the entire three minutes live.

“It was a fantastic experience,” said Lyman Lipke, who was a member of a team from Squalicum high school in Bellingham.  

The Pickford Film Center will be posting many of the entries from the 5th annual Guerilla Film Project on the internet.

For more information,visit, www.pickfordfilmcenter.org.