Entering a 20 minute video in a film festival takes 20 hours

I submitted an entry for the DC Shorts Film Festival. The maximum length the video is allowed to be is twenty minutes. It took me by complete surprise how much time was required to fill out the entry form.

First they asked for a 125 word pitch. Which I expected they would. Then they wanted a 250 word synopsis. Out of the 90 minutes of movie that currently exists (which was cut down from 112 minutes of webisode footage), I have to cut out at least seventy minutes. The final product isn’t due until May, thus, I haven’t decided yet exactly which footage stays and what goes.

So I went through my list of fifty episodes and decided which ones had crucial plot points and character representations. Then I wrote a sentence about each. I ended up with a 100 word synopsis.

Now, the web site for submitting the film entry does not have a list of items or questions involved in the entry submission. The form is filled out online. As you complete one page of the form, another pops up. The next page asked for a 1000 word synopsis. A thousand words??? For a twelve to twenty minute video??? Why don’t I just send in my entire script?

I’ll tell you why. Because the entire script is for 112 minutes of video. I don’t have a concrete decision of which footage I’m keeping. So what I submitted was an expanded version of my 250 synopsis, going into a little more detail on the parts of the story that I would most likely include in the video. It ended up being 535 words.

I sort of wonder if that was a test. If your synopsis is more than that, you probably can’t cover the whole story in less than 20 minutes.

Look at all the numbers in this post. See: Math is important in the arts.

By this point, I began to wonder how many more pages of this I was going to have to wade through. It must have been over thirty. I had to include each of the actors and their IMDB listing. Seven out of eleven of my actors had one. I was one of those that didn’t. One of the others who was also not in IMDB was the seven year old daughter of a friend.

Finally, after several hours, I completed all the required pages of the form. Here’s my 535 word synopsis:

A lot of misbehaving has been going on at Lisa’s new office, so she brings in a hidden video camera to catch it all on tape. As soon as she arrives, she sees the one who sets the tone at the office. Boss comes in to work with his mistress, one of the coworkers. Charlie, Lisa’s officemate, sees this too and wants his own office chick to validate his manhood. He picks Lisa. She’s new, and she’s there.

Tim comes into Lisa’s office all paranoid about sexual harassment. And he keeps harping on the subject. He had forwarded an article that had cuss words in it – quotes from air traffic controllers in an industry publication. Tim may not be into groping, but he’s definitely a chauvinist, laughing about how the controllers harass waitresses at the fancy hotels they are put up in when they travel.

Boss verbally harasses Charlie by telling his coworkers that Charlie has illegitimate children. Charlie wants to get away with something behind Boss’s back and feels up Lisa when the boss leaves.

Tim is engrossed in a bunch of graphs he made. Lisa wants to learn about the work and the role it plays in decision making. But Charlie has no respect for the work or anyone’s role. He keeps grabbing Lisa’s ass. She rips his hand away. It’s supposed to be a professional setting. She doesn’t want Tim to see how Charlie violates her. “What does anyone DO with these results?” Lisa asks. Nothing. It’s just something for managers to talk about to try to sound important at meetings.

Boss tells Lisa not to work on the project she was assigned to. Trying to be cooperative, she asks what she should work on. Uh, he doesn’t know. She should ask Tim about..whatever project Boss can remember anything about. But Tim has already finished that project and never got feedback on it. So Tim tells her to get coffee. What does Tim work on? He sleeps in his office. Because he’s been spending his time on a side business, throwing parties with hot women.

At the All Minds meeting, Mistress gets promoted. “My door is always open,” Boss says. Except when it isn’t. When Charlie and Lisa stop by, he’s in there with Mistress. And it doesn’t sound like work.

Tim makes up some work to justify his existence. Videos that don’t mean anything but are supposed to make it look like their office has actually completed projects. But then Tim doesn’t always come in to work and gets a cryptic Blackberry message from his boss. No worries. The bosses aren’t at work either. They’re out shopping or playing golf.

Charlie continues to try to force himself all over Lisa. Since nobody in the office can handle a difficult situation very well, she delicately tells Charlie to go to a psychiatrist on his own. Later, Charlie masturbates in front of her. Lisa is fired the next morning. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. She vows never to work in another job like that. “The future of our nation is in trouble not because we don’t have enough engineers, but because business and government leaders misuse the engineers they already have.”

Lisa Schaefer is the writer/producer of Budget Justified web series/movie true story about a woman engineer who gets fired after a coworker masturbates in front of her, and creator of SmartWomen Event News. http://RoleModelEnterprises.com   http://facebook.com/harassmentmovie

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