BY COURTNEY DITTO
A flashlight or lit candle, 24 hours, a statue in a park and “That is not what I had in mind.”
These were the requirements given to contestants participating in the Fourth Annual Ypsi 24 Film Shootout to include in their short films. They were each given a maximum of 24 hours to write, film, shoot and edit short films for the chance at winning $1,000 and the famous Ypsi Trophy. 50 teams from all over Southeast Michigan participated, 40 submitted, but only 24 were publicly screened at the Oct. 9 award ceremony held in Washtenaw Community College’s Morris Lawrence building.
During his speech, Director of Ypsi 24 Mark Ducker shared a quote from Woody Allen, stating, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Ducker said he uses this quote to prove that just by turning in a final product that had to be put together in a matter of one day, these aspiring producers had already succeeded, stating, “it forces you to bring that together.”
A variety of genres were displayed throughout the screening from comedy to horror. The emotions flowing through the packed auditorium were mixed, but the audience roared with applause after every short film. Dan Kier, video production instructor at WCC, stated that this year’s turnout was larger than any other in the past, and speculated that at least a third of the audience were his students. Kier, who left his teaching position at the University of Michigan 15 years ago to start the video production program at WCC, said he was very nervous but excited upon starting the show.
“We have a lot of projects being shown tonight, many from WCC students,” Kier said. “The most nerve-wracking part is that they’ve already chosen the winners. Mark Ducker is walking around here with the envelope in his coat pocket like the Academy Awards.”
Although the talent showcased at the ceremony was insurmountable, in the end, only a few could win. First place and $1,000 winners were U-M students Nicholas Williams and Riley Hanson with their short film, “Habitable Zone.” Williams and Hanson stated that their favorite experience was filming and then being able to “hang back” and watch it all come together.
One of WCC’s own video production students, Cam Houston, 21, from Ypsilanti was a double winner, not only receiving an honorable mention, but by overtaking the Audience Award by 14 percent of the votes. Houston walked out with the Ypsi Trophy and $550 for his short film, “To a Future.”
Houston said that the hardest part of the experience was shooting in rainy, damp weather and finding a location, but then goes on to say the best part was turning in his final product.
“Turning in the film, we were biting nails, turning it in at the last minute. We were racing through alleyways to get it in,” Houston said. “Getting there and turning it in, giving the flash drive up and thinking ‘Okay, now it’s out of our hands,’ that was very rewarding.”
As the crowd emptied the auditorium, Houston danced on the stage in celebration, beaming from his win. “We came here, focused on first place, but I think this is better,” Houston said. “I am so happy.”