By Joshua Dillen
"Just about everything is watchable if it's 20 minutes or less."
That's what Brian Vegter, co-owner of Short Term Gallery and co-director of "We Like 'Em Short Film Festival," (WLES) said when talking about the growing event held at the Eltrym Theater.
This is its fourth year.
There were more than 180 films submitted to the festival from all over the world and locally. Fifty-eight films were accepted to be screened from Thursday through Saturday.
Vegter said film festivals like WLES are importantbecause they allow filmmakers to have their movies screened.
"The first thing is they get bragging rights when their movies are accepted; the second is they get bragging rights if they are nominated," Vegter said. "The third is that they get elevated to another level if they win a category."
He said this makes it easier for filmmakers to get accepted into other film festivals.
Judges nominate and choose the best films for these categories: Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Actress and Best Actor. Audience members voted for best student film and best film.
"Rabbit and Deer," a submission from Hungary directed by Pandeacute;ter Vandaacute;cz, won best film and best student film.
Vandaacute;cz was awarded $250 and $150 respectively for winning the categories for a total of $400.
"Rabbit and Deer" is an animated film about a deer and a rabbit that live in a two-dimensional world. Deer figures out how to exist in a three-dimensional world. Rabbit is still trapped in two dimensions while Deer does his best to still enjoy life with him.
The trials and tribulations of their inconvenient existence are presented with drama and strife to an original music score that compliments the cartoon very well.
A film and its creator that Vegter is very fond of was directed by Pierre Schantz, 12, of Irvine, Calif. "Parkour Race" is filmed in a set constructed with Legos, complete with Lego characters, and they race to the finish of a Lego-constructed course of obstacles.
There is teleportation between sections and a very poignant ending that shows that sharing and sportsmanship mean more than winning. Schantz has been making films since he was 9.
The youth said that "Rabbit and Deer" is one of his favorite films.
Schantz spent 100 hours making the film one photograph at a time with the help of his parents. He isn't planning on becoming a filmmaker.
"It's a really fun hobby to make films. I don't plan on making it a career; I want to design video games," Schantz said.
His mother, Lisa Schantz, said her son was not disappointed that he did not win an award.
"He doesn't do it to win awards. Seeing his film on the big screen is his reward," she said.
New for this year's festival were three workshops at Crossroads Carnegie Art Center designed to enrich the knowledge and skills of new and experienced filmmakers alike.
Joanna Priestley's workshop "How to Have a Fabulous Life Making Cartoons," was all about animation and how to enrich a career in filmmaking. Her specialty is two-dimensional animation.
Learning how to use Adobe Flash, the value of perspective in cartoons, and the importance of sound tracks were some of the topics Priestley discussed.
Full of stories and anecdotes about her career, and many examples of her work, she stressed one point more than once.
"You just have to make one (film) -- then, for the rest of your life, you're a filmmaker," Priestly said.
She values film festivals and the importance they have for her career.
"They're important because I get to connect with my audience. It's how my work is shown," Priestley said. "I connect with my audience and I get to see new films."
Sean Kai Raffety, a film student at Seattle University, attended Priestley's workshop and also entered his film titled "Hah" in the festival. It is a 60-second film about the importance of laughter.
Raffety would like to work at Pixar and eventually start a film company that brings back two-dimensional animated films.
Filmmaking is an important form of self-expression for him.
"It means allowing people to get in my head and experience a story I have," Raffety said.
Other workshops scheduled during the four-day festival included Steve Wursta's "Researching and Producing Historical Documentary Films" and Benjamin Morgan's "DIY Filmmaking."
Wursta is a photojournalist and independent filmmaker with Arctic Circle Productions and lives at Bend. Morgan is a filmmaker at Relentless Co. and also teaches filmmaking at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
One film that had the audience chuckling throughout its screening was "The Best of Both Worlds."
The film, directed by Michael Dunker, is about a regular guy, Charlie, who is in search of the perfect woman.
When he finds "Michelle" and spends an incredible evening with her, Charlie is horrified in the morning to find out that she has become a "Michael," a chubby, hairy, yet very cool guy. During an awkward discussion in the morning, Charlie discovers Michael turns into the beautiful and incredible Michelle in the evening.
Michael is the perfect "Bro." The 13-minute movie hilariously explores the possibilities of how the relationship(s) might work.
"The Best of Both Worlds" was nominated for several categories, but did not win.
And the winners are ...
andbull; "Rabbit and Deer" for Best Picture and Best Student Film, directed by Pandeacute;ter Vandaacute;cz
andbull; Best Director - Aaron Kisner for "Vital Voices: Hawa Abdi"
andbull; Best Cinematography - Greg Kiss for "Tropic of Capricorn - A Times Lapse Journey"
andbull; Best Actress -Ashton Leigh for "Fragments"
andbull; Best Actor -Tyler Collins for "Notes"