Last night, the Almost Famous Film Festival, a local nonprofit, presented short films made by 20 different teams. The three- to seven-minute shorts ranged from funny and campy to dramatic and suspenseful, showcasing Phoenix-area up-and-coming filmmakers' skills. While there was a fair amount of out-of-focus shots, corny dialog, and awkward moments, there were also a few standout entries from local talent that you need to watch out for.
This year, contestants had to incorporate three guidelines into their films including a line of dialogue, an object, and a theme. The line of dialogue this year was, "This should be interesting," while filmmakers also had to include pushing a button (physical or literal) and incorporate the theme of temptation. Some filmmakers were able to do this seamlessly, while others had more trouble fitting the elements in naturally.
Admittedly, the three-hour event on Thursday, February 27, at AMC Arizona Center got a little tedious at times, with some films seeming more obviously made in only two days than others. Plus, the awards presentation was a long, arduous process of filmmakers walking down several flights of stairs to get awards and presenters pausing each time. However, the excitement and pride of the competitors was enough to cut through most of our cynicism -- most.
The obvious favorite of last night's event, which ended up winning best comedy, was Logan Must Make Star Wars. The goofy, well-shot short was about a man who travelled back in time to the 1970s and accidentally killed George Lucas. He then must remake Star Wars, so he doesn't deprive the world of one of his favorite films. The Squishy Studios' production carried the same nerdy entertainment value as its running series, Voyage Trekkers, that spoofs Star Trek.
The second place comedy by Luke Hansen was also one of the best entries this year, showing Jason Voorhees on a Valentine's date in Friday the 14th. Mountain City's musical about going on a Tinder Blind Date and trying to resist the urge to get really drunk to calm your nerves was an audience favorite as well.
Overall, the comedies definitely seemed to be at a higher caliber than the dramas this year in both production and script, presenting more of a challenge for funny filmmakers looking to get recognized. With an event that founder Jae Staats says gets better every year, we can't wait to see what the next film challenge brings. A full list of the 2014 winners in every category can be found on the Almost Famous Film Festival website.