Film Slam Focuses on “Wildlife Films for Reel Change”

ST. JOHNSBURY – Catamount Arts and SOCAPA (School of Cinema and Performing Arts) have opened online registration for the eagerly awaited 2023 Tap Into Film 72-Hour Film Slam. Novice and experienced filmmakers alike are invited to write, shoot, edit, and upload a three-minute film within 72 hours for the chance to win cash prizes and scholarships.

The event begins on Thursday, May 11, when registered teams will be assigned some creative constraints such as genre, special props, and required script elements. Once each team has been given their assignment, they must write, shoot, edit, and submit their short film within 72 hours. The film slam ends Sunday, May 14, with a screening of completed submissions and a ceremony awarding prizes to winning teams in several categories. This year, event creators have partnered with Emmy-nominated wildlife cinematographer Matt Aeberhard for a very special film slam challenge: Wildlife Films for Reel Change.

Through his lens as a filmmaker while shooting around the globe for outfits such as Netflix and the BBC, Vermont’s own Matt Aeberhard has seen up close the effects of human dominance on the world’s wildlife. He’s now challenging aspiring filmmakers to make narrative or documentary films celebrating the wildlife in their own backyards. “Perhaps your films,” Aeberhard prompts, “can make a ‘reel change’ in how we view our role in the natural world and can redefine the meaning of wildlife film.”

“You don’t need to travel to the Serengeti to make a wildlife film,” award-winning writer and film slam judge Melanie Finn reminds filmmakers. “Wildlife is just that, the wild life all around us. Now you can play a role in telling its story. Be it the bee buzzing on spring’s first wildflowers; plants sprouting in the greenhouse; the mold in your fridge; they all deserve careful study and certainly more than the three minutes this competition allots.”
A documentary film like Aeberhard and Finn’s “The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos (2008)” can be a poetic portrait of animals and the environment they inhabit. A film like “My Octopus Teacher (2020)” can highlight humanity’s relationship with the wild world as well as tell one person’s story. Narrative films like “Okja (2017),” “Fly Away Home (1996),” and “Life of Pi (2011)” can also showcase our relationship with the wild world, explore deep philosophical questions, and still provide thrills, intrigue and laughs.

Participation in the SOCAPA Tap Into Film 72-Hour Film Slam is by donation to Catamount Arts. No filmmaking experience is necessary, but each team must have at least one member under the age of 21. Teams can participate online, in-person, or both. Prizes will be awarded in multiple categories in two competition brackets: one for novices, and one for experienced filmmakers. To learn more and register your filmmaking team, visit catamountarts.org or socapa.org/tapintofilm.

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