Bigger and Better 24 Hour Film Festival Returns in June

Last year, the second edition of the Knoxville 24 Hour Film Festival was in a do-or-die situation. The competition, which pits movie-making teams against one another to complete a short film in one day's time, lacked financial sponsorships, and festival director Michael Samstag was funding much of the proceedings himself. Sending out e-mails with subject lines like "Defcon 4," Samstag rallied his troops to break even and continue the contest. And so it will, returning this year armed with new sponsors and an even bigger lineup of events.

The 3rd Annual Knoxville 24 Hour Film Festival will launch Saturday, June 2, at 1 p.m. at Relix Variety Theatre, when organizers will reveal the "secret elements" that each team must incorporate into their films. The competitors will turn in their finished works 24 hours later. The films will be screened June 16 at 7 p.m. at the Bijou Theatre, with an awards ceremony afterward. All of that's just like previous editions—but there's one new element this year that will take the festival into a new direction.

In partnership with CBS Interactive and, organizers will be launching an online 24 Hour International Film Festival open to anyone in the world. The 24HIFF uses the same premise as the local 24 hour shoot-out, except that the secret ingredients will be announced online at rather than live and in person. Film submissions will be turned in by uploading them to the website.

"With CBS Interactive and promoting the 24HIFF, as well as an international PR list a mile long, we're going to be reaching a lot of people," writes festival marketing director Virginia Adams in an e-mail interview. "We have zero gauge as this is our very first year, it could be 15 or 1,500! The anticipation gives me goosebumps. As far as we know, and we have done quite a lot of research, we are currently the only online 24 hour shoot-out. We're super stoked."

Otherwise, everything about the main festival is being taken up a notch. This year's competition will feature celebrity judges (not yet named) and the chance to get the attention of movie-making deciders. "Our filmmakers are guaranteed an audience with some very serious movers and shakers in the movie and entertainment industry, and even showings at other film festivals in the U.S., thereby growing their exposure significantly," Adams says. "Something I'm also really excited about is the VIP experience we are planning for the filmmakers. It's like we've added a supercharger to what they experienced last year. I can't go into any details right now, but I can confidently say that they'll feel like superstars."

Competitors will be limited to 30 teams this year, mostly to keep the festival's total screening time manageable. Filmmakers can visit to learn more—though you won't find any hints about the secret elements. (Last year's were: A Landmark - the Sunsphere, A Line of Dialogue - "I'll never forget the first time I went to jail..." and An Object - Remote Control.) "I can share that no one knows what the secret elements will be until they are pulled out of a hat in front of our filmmakers, immediately prior to our saying ‘GO!'" Adams says. "Even the organizers won't know until that moment."

But, Adams adds, those elements could be the deciding factors for who wins the contest: "It isn't about the equipment you have or how many acting gigs your talent has appeared in. It's about creativity, originality, and incorporation of the secret ingredients."