Festival Celebrates Cinematic Crucible of the Single-Take Film

Todays News

Pictured: A still from 'Sweet Dollars' from directors Samuel Backman and Eddie Sarenhag.

Within a director’s bag of tricks, few are as bold and assured as the long take.

A single, unedited slice of cinematic expression—controlled and choreographed and as much a declaration of the director’s mastery over the form as anything else—they become short stories in themselves. And that’s exactly what actor and ManaSota Films founder Mark Troy had in mind when he first issued the Single-Take Challenge in 2016, calling upon local filmmakers to submit their best single-take short films for an annual festival. Five years on, the Single-Take Challenge Film Festival has gone global, with submissions from around the world screening next weekend, both virtually and in-person at Lakewood Ranch Cinemas.

The rules of the Single-Take Challenge are simple and self-evident—films must be shot in a single take with no edits and no cuts—but the execution proves to be far from either. Shooting even a short film in a single take requires painstaking precision and preparation, as a single mistake from cast or crew can ruin the entire operation and send everyone back to square one. “You have to be able to see a mile ahead,” says Troy,” and work backwards from there.”

From Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles to Martin Scorsese, Paul Thomas Anderson and Alejandro Inarritu, film’s greatest have all flexed their muscles with statements made in single takes. Think Touch of Evil. Think Boogie Nights and Birdman. Think Goodfellas. And for aspiring filmmakers, says Troy, there are few exercises more beneficial than such a cinematic crucible. “If a filmmaker can pull this off well,” he says, “they can do anything, because this involves every aspect of filmmaking.”

Happening both in-person and virtually, the Single-Take Challenge Film Festival will feature 12 films this year, including submissions from Sweden, New Zealand and Ireland, as well as from across the United States. They include comedies, dramas, a western and even a musical. The in-person festival will be October 9 at Lakewood Ranch Cinemas, and include a Q&A session with filmmakers visiting from Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. The films will be available to view online beginning October 8.

Viewers are encouraged to vote for the Audience Favorite Award, while a jury that includes Goodfellas cameraman Larry McConkey will present awards for Best Film, Extraordinary Cinematography and Most Entertaining Film.

But more important than any award, Troy just hopes to see more young artists picking up the camera, and thinks maybe the Single-Take Challenge Film Festival can help. “Hopefully they’ll get inspired to make their own film for next year,” he says.

Pictured: A still from 'Sweet Dollars' from directors Samuel Backman and Eddie Sarenhag.

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