Short film competitions pop up everywhere

Timed film competitions have blossomed all over the world, with aspiring filmmakers given extremely short windows ranging from 15 minutes to 48 hours to write, shoot, edit and deliver a short film. And these all-nighters are attracting big-name sponsors.

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Diesel's Film Racing Tour is in its second year. "It's improv for filmmakers," says competition director Charlie Weisman, who assigns a theme like "revenge" or "bad advice" and gives teams just 24 hours to finish.

As I started to read this article about short filmmaking competitions, I mentally rolled my eyes and thought, "There's one in every town." But the more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that there should be one in every town. Competitions like Filmmaking Frenzy not only encourage budding filmmakers outside of the traditional "film towns" but also foster creativity by placing constraints on the type and content of the films entering the competition. It's true that few masterpieces emerge from these contests but they usually produce a few entertaining entries, especially if the contestants are encouraged to take risks and be funny. It's not as if cinematic master works are flowing forth from the nation's film schools, either -- those movies are just better looking and cost more to make.

Here's hoping that short filmmaking contests continue to proliferate. If nothing else, they help filmmakers realize that the process of creation, completion, and moving on to the next project can be the best way to approach a career in filmmaking -- or maybe just provide needed, consequence free distraction from an involving project.

Read Clock's ticking on short film fests at Variety.