A rule of thumb among filmmakers is that it takes 30 minutes to an hour of shooting to produce one minute of usable film, just to be safe.
Now imagine you have to write, shoot, edit and submit a five-minute film — in just 48 hours.
That is a reality for competitors of SATO48, a film competition held over the course of one weekend in Springfield.
Filmmakers are given an inspiration package with the elements needed for their films, the rules of the competition and are then sent off to do as much as they can in 48 hours.
However, the coronavirus pandemic created a bump in the road this year.
For the 15th anniversary of the contest, Jeff Clinkenbeard, co-creator of SATO48 with Kyaw Hla, said everything has changed.
“Everything is digital, everything is online,” Clinkenbeard said. “And the level of support that we're giving the filmmakers has really bumped up because some teams will have to have every single member of their team be remote from every other team member.”
Clinkenbeard and Hla reached out to professional filmmakers, who offered advice through the frequently asked questions page on the SATO48 website, about how the competitors can work separately but still create one product.
“We're being much more hands-on in terms of ‘how-to’ videos that walk everybody through the process because we know that they're already going to be swamped with new production challenges just to make the movie,” Clinkenbeard said.
Clinkenbeard said SATO48 is promoting the safety of filmmakers during the current pandemic.
“Every year, everyone has to abide by the law,” Clinkenbeard said. “It’s just this year, the laws are different. So everybody still has to abide by the laws.”
Despite the changes, 74 teams signed up to compete.
In previous years, competitors would gather together at a church to receive the inspiration package. This year, the kickoff was held via livestream on SATO48.com.
“We'll walk through the event. We’ll tell everybody about the prizes and the awards,” Clinkenbeard said. “We'll reiterate the need for safety and making these movies in a responsible way. And then we will reveal the inspiration package.”
Clinkenbeard said there were opportunities for the contestants to ask questions throughout the livestream.
Andrew Cline, professor of media, journalism and film at Missouri State, said people take SATO48 “very seriously.”
Cline typically assigns the SATO48 competition to his spring MED 130 classes.
“Before it happens, the students are absolutely terrified,” Cline said. “And then after they've done it, they're usually absolutely elated. It turns out to be a great experience.”
However, due to COVID-19, Cline is not requiring his students to participate in the competition this year.
“You know, it's sad that the students aren't going to get to do it,” Cline said.
Cline said in every class required to compete, every single group finished the film in time. Some have even won prizes.
Cline has even competed in SATO48 himself a few times.
He said he has “learned a lot each time” and strives to do better each year.
“(I am) looking forward to things getting back to something like normal and then maybe next year get back in,” Cline said.
The contest is not completely over after the initial 48 hours, though. Days after the films are submitted, they are typically shown at the Moxie Cinemain downtown Springfield.
Currently, the films are scheduled to be shown May 1-3. However, Clinkenbeard and Hla have a Plan B — screening online.
“There'll be a livestream of a kickoff, if you will, of the screenings,” Clinkenbeard said. “Kyaw and I will speak about the films and try to bring as much excitement as we can to it.”
The films will still be shown in groupings of 10, just like if they were shown at the Moxie. However, there will be a new component to the showings.
“This year, we got a grant from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks and the Springfield Regional Arts Council to institute a new component called ‘peer review,’” Clinkenbeard said.
This peer review allows the competitors to give feedback to the other films in their block.
Clinkenbeard said not canceling SATO48 this year was made in the name of progress in hard times.
“It's not just about SATO; it's about the spirit of moving forward and making something happen instead of just letting this situation stop you dead in your tracks and canceling everything,” Clinkenbeard said.
He said while these times can be confusing or scary, it’s a good time to learn about oneself.
“I think the takeaway is, you can learn a lot about yourself from one of two things: Quitting, you'll learn a lot about yourself if you quit, and you'll learn a lot about yourself if you throw yourself out there and try to make something happen in new creative innovative, never-before-tried ways,” Clinkenbeard said.
Clinkenbeard says some good can be made from this bad situation.
“You just have to decide what kind of person you are,” Clinkenbeard said. “Do you want to learn about yourself as a quitter, or do you want to learn about yourself as an achiever?”