The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Two-day video project features martial arts theme

Scott Hansen

The concept behind the 48 Hour Video Project is simple. Give aspiring filmmakers a theme, a prop and 48 hours, and see what they can come up with. Unfortunately, the required presence of the sponsors in each film often seemed to stunt creativity rather than promote it.

In this edition of the film project, the Eau Claire Local Independent Filmmakers group asked filmmakers to use the Oct. 1 issue of Volume One Magazine as their prop while somehow following the theme of “martial arts.” The free screening of all the finished projects was this past Tuesday evening in the Davies Theater. The event kicked off with a demonstration from three young students of Karate America, a sponsor for this year’s video project, and finished with an award ceremony, including awards for Most Creative and Best Use of Prop.

Some of the short films flourished under the martial arts requirement, including “Dragon Eye II Bandits Unite,” whose cast consisted primarily of Karate America pupils and teachers. It was exciting to see the combination of shaky, grainy footage and high quality special effects. In one scene, an actor in a business suit flipped an attacking robber over his head and sent him flying into a table, causing the table to snap in half.

In the first video, “Spirits in Turmoil: JO-YI War,” two opponents waged a carefully choreographed fight in a very small kitchen. Gimmicks like using the freezer or oven door to quickly block a punch kept the audience laughing, and the quick editing helped make the hits seem more real.

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I also appreciated the videos that were more liberal with their definition of martial arts. The original film “One Day” followed a cast of brave fighters (including UW-Eau Claire faculty members Scott Hartsel and Kurt Wiegel) and their fight against zombies. The award for the most creative video went to “Last Action Figure Hero,” which showcased the fighting skills of several anime action figures that battled when left unsupervised. Although it received the most audience cheers, its extremely small crew probably prevented it from going home with the Audience Choice award. Instead, that award went to “Legend of the Sacred Scroll,” a mildly entertaining flick with a large cast and therefore many potential voters.

Unfortunately, I soon realized there is only so much unskilled karate chopping one can watch without it becoming tedious. Some filmmakers pushed the ten-minute time limit by simply filling their video with clumsy fighting sequences. Even the skillfully choreographed “Dragon Eye II Bandits Unite” eventually felt nothing more than a promotional video for Karate America.

I hope that in the future video projects the chosen theme is more open to interpretation and that the sponsors find a way to make the prop and theme requirements feel less like an advertising scheme and more like a creative challenge.

The next video project will give filmmakers one month (Feb. 1 to March 1) to write, film and edit their projects. If you are interested in learning more about the next video project or about Eau Claire Local Independent Filmmakers, e-mail [email protected].

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