Tabetha DeGroot — Staff Writer
On Friday, February 21, a handful of ordinary students entered the BJ Haan as “regular Joes” and emerged as champions. It was an exciting night with a variety of great films as well as some surprises.
The Prairie Grass Film Challenge is a 48-hour short film challenge that happened in the middle of January. On Friday Dordt hosted a screening of submitted films and an award ceremony for winning films.
“The films this year were some of the best we’ve had,” said host and Prairie Grass Productions founder Professor Mark Volkers. There were several first-time winners this year, one of which was Dordt University’s own Obscure Studios with their film “Just a Guy.”
The win was quite unexpected by the team. “Some of us on the team weren’t very happy with how it [the film] turned out at first,” Obscure Studios team member Josiah Culpepper said. “It was definitely a surprise to me that we won—a good surprise.”
The top two teams in the college category this year—Obscure Studios and Placeholder Productions—were both from Dordt. “The first five years or so of the film challenge no Dordt teams won,” Volkers said, “It showed that our judges were unbiased, but at the same time it was like: ‘Aw, come on Dordt.’ So, it was cool to see two Dordt teams up there.”
When it comes to the Prairie Grass Film Challenge, team–work really does make the dream work. “Our team worked really well together,” said Nick Hembrough, also from Obscure Studios. “We all had different jobs that we contributed, and we were just clicking.”
While the Prairie Grass awards ceremony was especially enjoyable for the winners, it’s an opportunity for both rookies and veterans to come together and celebrate their love of filmmaking.
“The awards ceremony was really cool,” said first time participant and winner of Best Production Value, Daniel Ketchelos. “It was cool to see how other people’s projects turned out.” When asked about the Prairie Grass experience as a whole, he said, “Making a film in forty-eight hours was a lot harder than I thought it would be…I also learned not to shoot outside in the freezing cold during a blizzard.”
The screening and awards ceremony attracts a variety of spectators every year, from people in the community, to family and friends supporting local teams, to teams traveling from other states.
“I thought the films were really good this year,” stated Northwestern College student Caleb Arnett. “I felt the superhero theme was done well in some films, but took away from others.”
The superhero-related prompts were definitely an added element to this year’s film challenge. Some teams went with the classic comic book scenario while others chose to add their own twist on the theme. Both approaches produced very different but award-wining films.
All good things must come to an end, and the climax of the night came to a resolution as teams and fans trickled out if the BJ Haan. Some held giant paper checks, others smuggled out cheese and crackers from the hors d’oeuvres table. But for those that attended the PGFC awards ceremony, they carried with them the memories of the night and inspiration for next year.