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Alaska film challenge winner a Homer-grown crowd favorite

Katie Medred
Courtesy of Tehben Dean

It goes without saying that most people enjoy a night out at the movies, even moreso when the film features an acquaintance, a friend or a loved one. So it made perfect sense that a full house turned out for Friday night's screenings of the 48 hour film challenge in downtown Anchorage, Alaska.

Both the 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. showings raked in enough bodies that a spill-over annex, known as the "earthquake room," had to be opened up at the Alaska Experience Theater, which hosted the big event. Movie goers crowded in to sit through an estimated two and a half hours of homemade films featuring Alaskans and sweeping the cinematic scale from totally absurd to just plain uncomfortable.

After viewing the 21 submissions, patrons were invited to vote by ballot for their favorite. The crowd pleaser? Aff Studio's "Run Like The Wild Elk*." Cinema enthusiast John Kendall voted for "Elk," calling it "a nice story and really well shot."

Indeed, in collaboration with the The Dean Brothers, Aff Studio's creation was announced the official winner on Saturday night. Rich colors coupled with Tehben Dean's wide-angle shots helped accent some of Homer, Alaska's most prominent landmarks in a curiously vivid way. The story, written by director Paul Jones of "Pretty Little Victim" and "My Sister's Dating a Vampire" fame, was filmed on location in Kachemak Bay and centers around a 16-year-old's enthusiasm for Raspberry Steamers and his self-conscious encounters with two very empathetic women.

Director, writer Jones said, "It's not so much a film about angst and lust at that age, as much as it's about just learning how to exist at that age." Jones worked with Homer based sibling film team The Dean Brothers to capture the unique phosphorescent look of "Elk."

Run Like The Wild Elk from Paul Rufus Jones on Vimeo.

Film challenge revives nascent Anchorage film scene

Both Jones and director Kris Swanson, of short film "Making Friends," agreed that the film challenge has helped elevate the creative process and the film community, in general, in Anchorage. 48 hour's organizer, John Norris, recalled the time previous to the challenge as a bit of a lull for filmmakers.

"There was a stretch of time where there were no film events going on. I'd been making films for a while (and had) won a couple challenges and participated in some other ones," Norris said.

Growing somewhat restless with the lack of readily available artistic stimulation Norris reached out to the community. "I figured since nobody else was putting (a challenge) on that I would just call the people I know and ask them if they would want to do a 48 hour film challenge. And they did. So we did it. And I think we only had ... 12 teams the first year."

Three years later the challenge is doing quite well. With 26 entries, 21 of which made it to "complete" screenable films this year, Norris is feeling pretty alright about his choices. He adds, "I always try to encourage as many people to enter as possible. I'd like to see more new filmmakers, making stuff."

You heard him kids: get out there and get rolling in preparation for the next Open Projector Night, and eventually next year's 48 hour challenge.

To read more about the 48 hour film challenge click here.

To view a collection of this year's 48 hour film challenge submissions click here.

*All movie titles were pre-assigned as part of this year's prompt.

Contact Katie Medred at katie(at)alaskadispatch.com