Olympus PEN Your Short Film Challenge

Twenty teams are challenged to make short films in 48 hours using micro-four-thirds cameras

During the recent Vail Film Festival Olympus challenged 20 teams of young filmmakers to shoot and edit a short film using only Olympus PEN E-PL2 cameras and lenses—a great way to show-off how powerful their high-end, compact cameras really are. A creative set of rules challenged the teams with using the cameras’ built-in art filters as well as forcing them to take in commercial considerations like not showing logos and including slugs for Vail and Olympus. As a guest of the camera-maker, I had the opportunity to observe this process from initial allocation of equipment all the way through to final screening and awards.

While many teams were comprised of Vail locals, some came from as far as California to participate. Experience levels were also varied—high school students, film school graduates, professional skiers and grandparents rounded out the competition. Having a tight plan proved to be a key element as four teams weren’t even able to complete in time and a fifth was not done rendering by the time the deadline hit. That piece, Exit the Snow Dragon directed by Ryan Dunn, was disqualified from the competition but still presented at the screening and turned out to be one of my favorites for its humorous take on the perceived tension between skiers and snowboarders.

Even before the contest kicked off, Bujin Productions stood out as the team to beat, with brotherly duo Austin and Maitland Lottimer (pictured above) asking specific technical questions about the cameras and comparing the answers to details in their well-organized shot list. Their production in the Vail village drew attention from passerby for its grand setup that looked like a professional film shoot. This professionalism wasn’t a veneer, their final short film stood out from the rest for its complex camera work, tight edit and creative post-production. Winning the contest with their short film “Running Colors,” all five members of the team received Olympus PEN E-PL2 kits plus a cash prize.

Team T&A’s Der Burgermeister won honorable mention for their cleverly written comedy about the fallen pop star-cum-mayor of a small Swiss village—Zwiebelberg (which translates to Onion Mountain). The story sees mayor Klaus Lautner traveling to Vail in an effort to save his town from the economic despair wrought by the closing of their famous coo-koo-clock factory.

While the contestants were busy filming, Olympus was also using their own E-PL2s to shoot a documentary about the project. Have a look at that after the jump.