A Judge’s Scorecard: “Lights. Camera. Help.” 2014 #Film Frenzy

lch logoI had the great honor of being one of three celebrity, community judges for 2014 Reel Change Film Frenzy this evening.

Up to this point, the closest I’ve come to celebrity (other than having a Wikipedia entry) is purely associative, perhaps the greatest of which was being in the inaugural class of the Austin Under 40 Awards, in which Mike Judge, Lance Armstrong, and Michael Dell were also among the 25 inducted.

I showed to receive my award…they did not.  (Something about Emmys, French bike races, and self-immolating laptop batteries was muttered in each respective case, as I recall.)

But, back to the #FilmFrenzy…

My fellow judges and I watched 10 short films (the mandated max running length was 8 minutes), along with a sold-out audience at the shiny new-ish Alamo Drafthouse on Slaughter Lane.  We each scored in the following broad categories:

  1. Call to action
  2. Creativity, story, emotional connection
  3. Film craft, cinematography, sound

At the end of all 10, we three judges huddled in the hallway and, after briefly comparing our favorites, quickly concluded that the only one that finished in the top three for all of us for Pug Rescue of Austin.  It was funny, touching, well-paced, with solid sound and film work, and with interesting, readable titles and credits.

But, what we didn’t say was that we each had a different top favorite.  So, without further delay, here are excerpts of my judges comments:

  • Austin History Center: some great “insider” shots of the archives; would have loved more scenes other than downtown Austin; really liked use of old B&W photos in the closing sequence – very strong
  • Driving a Senior: the running length was long for my taste, but I give the team huge props for working in a narrative story…a very challenging decision that they executed impressively in such short time
  • Ecorise: some of the musical tracks were distracting and it felt a bit dialog-heavy to me, lacking a strong call to action; yet, film sequences of the kids outside and telling their stories was some of the strongest shown
  • Mariposa Pathway: the mix of motion graphics and action was nicely done; loved the butterfly sequences
  • Seedling Foundation: this was my overall favorite…I felt like the pacing was spot on; the film, sound, and titles were really strong; the call to action was powerful — I just loved it!
  • TALA: the filmmaker’s story was the perfect choice to illustrate the nonprofit’s value proposition
  • Truth Be Told: I had the strongest emotional reaction to this one; it was also in my top 3; really, really well-crafted film-making, powerful story-telling, beautifully done end credits — I loved this one too!
  • Umlauf Sculpture Gardens: some gorgeously done sequences of the sculpture garden (including night time rain – kudos team!) and awesome archival footage of the artist…reminded me to frequent this city treasure
  • VSA Texas: loved-loved-loved the beginning and ending sequence at Long Center…great choices for spokespeople, with a strong call to action

Congratulations to every one of the film makers who contributed their time, money and creative souls to producing these timeless works.  Good on you!

And special “thank you” to Aaron Bramley and David Neff (executive director and LCH founder/board member, respectively) for inviting me to participate.