All that Flitters
Tom Steeber employed an eerie backdrop and creepy music combined with professional production values and clever storytelling to win the Mail Tribune's fourth annual Two-Minute Film Festival this week.
Steeber, a 1992 graduate of South Medford High School who now lives in Spokane, said he was inspired to craft his entry, titled "Flitter," after a friend entered a horror video contest that had an even tighter time restriction: 30 seconds.
"I was watching some of the entries, and the winner was a really, really creepy one with a killer jack-in-the-box," said Steeber, 40. "It was so well done. It inspired me."
In Steeber's instant classic, a pesky moth somersaults through the air in a poorly lit room full of toys, including a favorite of Steeber's — a cymbal-banging monkey.
"I'm always blown away by the fact that these ugly things were made and given to kids. I mean, they're so creepy," Steeber said.
In "Flitter," which features zero dialect, the monkey is the star, even though the moth, made out of lint, liquid latex and cloth that Steeber animated through some photography and Adobe After Effects trickery, does most of the work.
Some viewers actually thought Steeber had trained a real moth.
Steeber's entry was one of 12 videos submitted in this year's contest, which encourages aspiring visual storytellers to shoot and edit videos that are just two minutes in length.
A panel of expert judges chose their three favorite entries, and online voters picked a People's Choice winner.
The second-place entry, a quick superhero saga titled "Captain Amazing vs. The Sizzler," was entered by Greg Franklin of Central Point.
Franklin's clever use of visual effects and interesting storytelling made it an easy choice for the silver medal, judges decided.
The third-place entry, "My Salsa Fantasy," by Andrea Colmes, features sharp camera work and a humorous performance by a daydreaming student in salsa dance class.
Colmes, 59, of Central Point, said the idea came to her in a daydream. She had been living in Los Angeles and started attending a gym where a salsa-dancing teacher caught her eye.
"We'd all go there to drool at the salsa teacher," Colmes said. "That's where the daydream originated. The whole movie is just kind of a satire on my life."
She shot her video over the course of two days, and it remains a work in progress, she said.
The People's Choice winner was "Artifact," by North Medford High School senior Tyler Williams.
A fan of science fiction, Williams said "the writing of it felt natural."
Williams, 16, filmed his story in a church youth group meeting place in downtown Medford. Shooting took about four hours, followed by about a week of editing.
Williams said he has been interested in filmmaking for a few years, ever since a visit to the University of Southern California. Behind-the-scenes featurettes on movies spurred his interest further.
Williams said he is considering a career in filmmaking and hopes to either attend USC or New York University to make that happen.
"It's definitely not an easy thing to get into," he said.
He plans to start shooting another short film soon, followed by a longer project he hopes to film in Portland.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or email@example.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.