Half Minute Horror adds contest to film festival

By Life Editor Melissa Parker

Have what it takes to create a 30-second film? Get a team together, head to 306 Barbecue Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. and take a stab at an unusual type of film: A 30-second horror film.

Teams will compete to win a trophy and a $100 prize from sponsor Half Minute Horror at the 19th Annual George Lindsey UNA Film Festival Awards Show March 5 at the Mane Room.

Each week, Keith Sims, executive producer and owner of Half Minute Horror, and Tashina Southard, UNA alumna and series creator, gather a cast and crew to film their own 30 seconds of horror.

“We thought it would be interesting, in addition to the film festival, to see if people would be interested in trying to do what we do every week,” Sims said.

Competitors will randomly select one subgenre of horror, Sims said. Half Minute Horror will give them a line of dialogue, a prop and a name to use in their film. They will also need to include a Shoals landmark of their choosing.

Each team will have 24 hours to film their movies, Sims said. They will submit films at Court Street Market Feb. 27 at 7 p.m.

Southard said she started writing 30-second scripts as a writing exercise.

“I had read a prompt going around the Internet about writing a 30-second story in prose,” she said. “I wanted to see if I could do the same thing for film.”

Half Minute Horror won the 48 Hour Film Festival in Huntsville last year, and Sims and Southard are on the Lindsey Film Festival committee.

“We decided to do this because we need to tap into some of the great talent we have in this area — namely, Keith and Tashina and their Half Minute Horror productions, and the fact that they’re seasoned guerrilla filmmaking people,” said English Department Chair and Lindsey Film Festival Committee Chair Cynthia Burkhead. “I’m really happy they came up with this idea.”

Those interested can sign up online at the Half Minute Horror website.

George Lindsey Film Festival

Besides this new addition, there are 10 categories in the Lindsey Film Festival including professional short, student narrative, student documentary, short screenplay, Best of Show and Best of Alabama.

Junior Paige McCay’s film “Stay” is a finalist in the Best of Alabama category.

“It was my first movie to direct myself,” she said. “When I realized the film fest was so near our shooting date, I knew we had to try.”

Screenings of the films are open to the public. Those interested can visit the Lindsey Film Festival website for more information.

General admission tickets for the March 5 awards show are $10 and will be on sale at the UNA bookstore and at the door. Admission for UNA students is free.

Filmmakers from all over the world participate in the Lindsey Film Festival, Burkhead said.

This year there is one filmmaker from Amsterdam, she said. In the past, there have been participants from Germany, Spain, Poland and England.

“It’s good for the American filmmakers because it gives them some international networking ability,” Burkhead said. “It’s all about creating a community for them so they can keep making films. That’s what George really was interested in.”

Southard said she thinks there is a lot of filmmaking potential in the Shoals.

“There’s a real concentration of creative talent here that is unlike anywhere else,” she said.