This is the Award winning short: Mercy. Submitted as part of the Sacramento International Film Festival's 48 hour project, it was made from writing, casting, filming, editing, etc in just 48 hours! Christina Marie plays the part of Stella.
Mercy tells the story of the extent one man will go through to be with his wife forever.
Ryan Todd Co-Directed with Eric Espera.
What people are saying about Mercy:
However, it was probably the 48 HOUR FILM FESTIVAL which drew the largest crowd. This sort of event is popping up all over festivals now. It is a competition where groups of filmmakers make a short film in two days.
Sixteen ten-minute films were entered in this competition – all of which were screened at the CREST - Sacramento’s last picture palace, an art deco theater which opened in 1948 after completely remodeling its predecessor, the Hippodrome.
I judged the 48 HOUR FILM FESTIVAL (which only took about three hours) along with two lovely ladies. I was joined by local casting director Sally Forcier and story editor Donie A. Nelson. While some of the films suffered from the lack of production time, a few rose to the challenge. To even out the competition, each group chose a genre from a hat, and each film had to feature a Sacramento location, a flag, the name “Stella Starlight” and the line of dialogue, “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy,” which was lifted from STAR WARS.
The winning short was MERCY, a story about a terminally ill woman and her husband who torture a man to motivate him into killing them both. Filmmakers Erik Espera and Ryan Todd chose the genre “romance” out of the hat and thought it presented all sorts of possibilities. Leaning toward the darker side of the genre (like ROMEO AND JULIET), the group started brainstorming immediately. However, with too many Indians (and not enough chiefs), Ryan took over the writing duties and completed the script at 4am Saturday morning, only to lose it all in a computer mishap. Having to rewrite it from memory, the team hastened the filmmaking process by using two directors and two cinematographers. The film was edited while the movie was still in production.
The team incorporated the campy line from STAR WARS in a clever, unobtrusive way. They went to the local CW affiliate and shot the popular anchor reading a phony news story, using the Obi-Wan Kenobi quote. The footage was shown on a TV set in the background of a convenience store.
The cast features Jason Bortz, Christina Marie, Brian Rife and Gary Amato. Bortz gave the best performance of all entries, which helped bolster the good production values and contribute to the win.
Other entries included HELL MARY, BLACK WIDOW and BLACKOUT, which was directed by Brandon Slazas and would have taken second place had there been a prize.
All those involved agreed that making a movie within a weekend is an amazing challenge and a great learning experience. Interested filmmakers should be on the lookout for local fests that might have similar competitions or even consider organizing one.
As always, I met with a group of writers to hear pitches and give feedback at the 24th Street Theater. It was a two-and-a-half hour session that included talking about concepts, story construction, marketability and the business in general.
Donie Nelson, former head of the legendary MGM Story Department, helped out and it was fun to hear her take. Afterwards, a group remained and we chatted for over an hour. One ardent filmmaker pitched a story of Cyrus the Great. In the vein of BRAVEHEART, it had some potential. Of course, I told him those sorts of stories are often developed within the studio and are usually a very tough spec sell. But he noted the difference between his epic and its predecessors: His story is a musical. To prove this, he presented a “sizzle reel,” which cost $20,000 to produce and featured a fully orchestrated musical score with singing and dancing. Think more in the tradition of Tazieh, not Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Despite my overall discomfort with traveling, I enjoy meeting new people and chatting about filmmaking and the creative process, and film festivals are a great place to discover and inspire new talent. I always have a wonderful time in Sacramento thanks to Marty and all the hospitable filmmakers. For those in the NorCal area, who don't get a chance to visit Los Angeles, perhaps we can rendezvous at the Crest next spring. -Christopher Lockhart, WIlliam Morris Agency