Young Houston filmmakers get 52 hours to make movie masterpiece


Courtesy of San Jacinto College Department of Theatre & Film

Budding filmmakers from local high schools will showcase their creative talents at the first-ever 52 Hour Raven Film Contest hosted by the Department of Theatre and Film at San Jacinto College Central Campus.

William MacTavish, Lead Filmmaking Instructor and Recruiter said contestants will compete to deliver a completed movie within the specified time frame.

“Participants will have 52 hours in which to plan, write, film, edit and deliver a complete short film,” MacTavish said. “The winners of the contest will receive scholarships to attend San Jac.”

Jessica McCarroll, Senior Administrative Assistant of Fine Arts, said contestants will receive guidelines and minimal content requirements to get them started.

“We will assign each team a prop to be featured, (a specified) genre, and require them to include five of the 15 supplied lines of dialogue. The rest is up to them,” McCarroll said.

According to MacTavish, as an experienced professional he understands the contest’s time limitation may prove difficult for student filmmakers.

“I have been making movies for more than 25 years,” MacTavish said, “and I know what how hard it is to create a good film in a very short amount of time. It’s a challenge that is difficult but rewarding.”

Similarly, McCarroll said it will take a lot of effort on the part of participants, but it is possible to make a successful film within the designated parameters.

“With teamwork and complete focus, you can make a cohesive and entertaining movie in an exceptionally short time frame,” McCarroll said.

MacTavish said the contest offers a learning opportunity different from what most students encounter during their high school careers.

“Competition is a great thing. Life is really one big competition and it brings out the best,” MacTavish said. “When students compete, they take chances and experiment in ways that they don’t normally do in traditional educational settings.”

With more than two and a half decades in the movie industry under his belt, MacTavish offered insight as to what makes an effective filmmaking ensemble.

“Time management skills are a must for this contest,” MacTavish said, “Also, the same thing that makes any good team¬ – a strong leader who know(s) how to delegate the workload, resolve issues and keep the team focused on the goal; team members that are able to think and overcome any issues or problems that may arise.”

“They also need to be able to communicate well and not let the pressures that they will encounter cause them to simply give up,” he said.

Likewise, McCarroll said the competition requires strong organizational efficiency.

“If everyone has an assignment prior to the start of the competition,” she said, “it should help the process run smoothly. Write the script Friday, shoot Saturday and possibly early Sunday if needed, and edit throughout the shooting process if available.”

The contest runs from 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24 to 10 p.m. Sunday Jan. 26. Registration information and contest rules are available at