Arts & Culture » Movies

Peckinpah dreamin’


Take, say, 1) a deep, dark secret, 2) a Shakespearean quote and 3) a chicken wing. Toss in an exaggerated facial expression, maybe some shoddy camerawork and an incongruent, patchy soundtrack — and voilà! You're fair game for Detroit's first Cinemasports, being held this Saturday at the Detroit Film Center (DFC).

In what's frequently called the "Iron Chef of Filmmaking," the premise of Cinemasports is simple: Participants have 10 breathless hours to script, shoot and edit a three- to four-minute film. This is all done on participants' own equipment — a simple digital camcorder and editing software like iVideo will do the trick. A couple of "ingredients," like the ones listed above, are the only required elements in the game — otherwise, the artistes are given free rein.

"Some might do a documentary, others, a drawn-out story, others might just improvise," says Donald Harrison, director of marketing and promotions at the DFC and former Cinemasports participant. "You never know how it's going to play out. It's like seeing improv comedy — sometimes it's genius, and sometimes it fails, but it's fun to watch all the same."

Indeed, you can imagine what the results are if, as during a 2005 San Francisco event, the requirements include 1) someone dealing with an irrational phobia, 2) a close-up shot of a tongue licking, 3) someone talking about their first love and 4) a peculiar odor.

Cinemasports was established in 2004 by Jin Joo, a San Francisco Web developer. Since, the event has taken hold in cities the world over — such as London, Vancouver and Paris. In Moscow, Harrison says, over 1,000 people participated.

The beauty of Cinemasports, Harrison adds, is much like the beauty of the B-film — raw ingenuity is required to make the film succeed. It makes sense: Like your average indie flick, the budget here is negligible and the time constraints are impossible.

But while condensing the entire filmmaking process into one day might seem a suicide mission to Tinseltown pros, "it levels the playing field," Harrison says. "Even though I know a couple of teams have professional training and are definitely going to bring their A-Game, you might find a dad with his three teenage kids — and their film could be just as good."

Cinemasports isn't a competition, in that there are no gold stickers or plastic trophies, but a select few will be posted on the organization's Web site. We're told that participants can show up alone or with preformed teams, and each film should be submitted on a mini-DV tape. All submitted films will be screened the night of the event.


Cinemasports begins at 9:30 a.m., registration is free. The 8:30 p.m. screening that night costs $5. At Detroit Film Center, 1227 Washington Blvd., Detroit; 313-961-9936. For more info, see

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