‘We Like ‘Em Short’ film festival returns

Film festivals

Screen Shot 2017-08-16 at 1.50.15 PMCan a story be told in one minute?

The answer is yes — just head to the “We Like ’Em Short” film festival, and you’ll see quite a few examples of a complete narrative told in mere minutes.

The eighth annual film festival will feature 80 films from the United States and abroad. All are either comedy or animation. The shortest is 14 seconds; the longest is 18 minutes.

Screenings are all at the Eltrym Theater, 1809 First St., Baker City. Family appropriate times are 7 p.m.  Aug. 17 and 4 p.m. Aug. 19. Other showtimes are 7 p.m. Aug. 18 and 7 p.m. Aug. 20.

Also, the Northwest Film Center will present a comedy special at 1 p.m. Aug. 20.

A VIP festival pass for all screenings plus the concert costs $55. A standard pass of $40 covers all shows. Tickets to the concert are $15. Forty tickets will be sold at the theater for each show and cost $10.

Passes are available on the website, www.welikeemshort.com. For a daily schedule, go to the website and click on “2017 WLES Program.”

Brian Vegter, who directs the festival with Derek Hosler, said the festival brought in 280 submissions from more than 30 countries. Ninety of those were student films, of which 30 made the festival lineup.

“The increase in the quality of our student films was really amazing,” Vegter said.

One of those, titled “This Year’s Angel,” is an 8-minute stop-motion animation created by Bethany Spreadborough, 22.

“This little man lives in a full-scale world, kind of like ‘The Borrowers,’” Spreadborough said.

The film is set at Christmas and the man finds himself all alone — until he sees a beautiful angel at the top of the tree.

“This Year’s Angel” took one year to create. Stop-motion involves putting a character in place and taking a photo, then moving it slightly and taking another photograph.

“And then do that a couple hundred more times,” she said.

Spreadborough lives in Massachusetts and recently graduated from Emerson College in Boston. She’s moving to Los Angeles and will stop in Baker City on the way to see her film on the Eltrym screen. Her movie will be show during the 7 p.m. Friday screening.

Emily Skyle, a filmmaker from Reno, Nevada, will also be in Baker City for the festival. Her film, “Dear George,” is the longest submission at 18 minutes. It is nominated for Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Actor and Best Picture.

The story follows a man who receives an epic breakup letter from his high school sweetheart. In an effort to win her back, he sets off on a cross-country trip that involves “an acapella group, a TSA shake down, handcuffs and a lot of bad decisions,” Skyle said.

She wrote this nine years ago, originally as a full-length feature. In a total of three months, she reworked the script into a short film, casted, filmed and edited 18 hours of footage down to 18 minutes.

“It’s the fastest we could go and still keep the heart and message alive,” she said.

The production included talking to TSA and Homeland Security for permission to film at an airport.

“We had to get an airport to donate a terminal, and a major airline to donate a plane,” Skyle said.

And her cast was 300 people.

“It’s a short film that was treated like a feature,” she said.

This is her first time directing a film. Skyle’s background is in television news and comedy.

“Dear George” has traveled the film festival circuit, competing with films of much higher budgets. Skyle’s budget was $5,000; others run to $250,000. It’s also been nominated for 49 awards and has won 29.

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