Fast films’ finest

LAKE PLACID – A team from Marist College in Poughkeepsie took away the judges’ choice Robin Pell Award in the Lake Placid Film Forum’s 24-hour filmmaking competition, Sleepless in Lake Placid.

The four students were one of four groups from colleges across the state competing this year.

Marist’s film, “Allure,” chronicled milestones in the life of a fictional couple, from their engagement through the birth of their first child, with simulated hand-held camcorder footage and a surprise heart-wrenching ending of the husband’s death.

“It’s a lot to tackle in 10 minutes,” said judge Tom O’Brien, who wrote and directed the film “Fairhaven,” which was screened at the forum.

A team from the Rochester Institute of Technology won the audience choice award with its quirky film “Stuck in the Stay,” in which a woman tries to use an analog television to view a man’s message to her on a TV show, but her rural location proves to be too much of an obstacle.

The Hobart and William Smith Colleges team featured only two people, and they put together a science-fiction movie called “Firewire” about the government taking away citizens’ access to cell phones and other electronic devices. Judges said they were impressed that only two people could put together such a film in 24 hours.

A team from Syracuse University managed to hijack an airplane in its film “By the Way,” about a young man whose dreams take him beyond the farm he lives on.

Students on several of the filmmaking teams talked about how welcoming Lake Placid businesses and community members were. The films’ locations included a local alpaca farm, Brown Dog Deli, the bandshell in Mid’s Park and Zig Zag’s bar.

Each film had to feature three elements: one of a few dozen quotes about mountains followed by a shot of the Adirondacks’ mountainous landscape at the start of the film, a fishing lure and a person who is caught up in an electronic device and not paying attention to the world around them, in keeping with this year’s Film Forum theme.

Barry Snyder, who helped organize the Sleepless competition, said in his introductory remarks Friday night that the idea for it grew out of a desire to bring college-level filmmakers to the Forum to mix with professionals and to learn from them.

Snyder said that since the contest’s inception eight years ago, more than a dozen schools have competed from five different states, and more than a hundred students have made 39 films for it. He said that, as an educator, he’s always struck by the difference between the passive learning environment of the classroom, where he has to fight to keep students’ attention, and the active learning environment of the contest, in which he has to fight to keep students from going overboard – jumping up on a roof to get a specific shot or actually staying up for days on end to work on their films.