New 54-Hour Film Contest Gives Filmmakers Just Enough Time

Have you ever competed in one of the annual Knoxville 24 Hour Film Festivals and thought, "What I really need is 30 more hours."? Well, your filmmaking contest has arrived. Local video director James Thayer is launching the 54 Film Fest, a real-time competition that gives filmmakers 54 hours to script, shoot, and edit a short film based on four elements to be announced at a kick-off meeting.

"Networking has propelled my career much further than I could have gone on my own abilities. I wanted to create a film festival that, if I were eligible to enter, I would enjoy competing in, but also one where the local Knoxville film community could easily network with one another," Thayer writes in an e-mail interview.

He says he's competed five times in the 48 Hour Film Project: Nashville and decided that six more hours was just the right amount of time to allow for computer malfunctions and render time.

"It also helps people who have never gone through such a competition before learn the ropes," he says. "As the team leader in the 48 competition, I always get the least amount of sleep, which caused me to throw up one time, but I went back at finishing our post production. A contest such as this—with strenuous time limits—truly allows a filmmaker to decide if it's the career path they want to follow or not. It will test you, and if you can come out the other side feeling proud of what you've accomplished then you'll be hooked on filmmaking for life."

Thayer has partnered with Carmike Cinemas and Community Television of Knoxville to provide judges and venues—the inception meeting for the contest will be at CTV headquarters (808 State St.) on Feb. 3 at 5 p.m., and the films will be screened before an audience at Carmike Cinemas Wynnsong 16 (200 North Peters Rd.) on Feb. 18 at 4 p.m. Representatives from Carmike, CTV, RIVR Media, and various Knoxville- and Nashville-based filmmakers will judge specific categories such as Best Editing, Directing, Acting, etc.; the Best Film will be judged by the general audience. Winners (and their prizes) will be announced at a later date to be determined. For more info, visit