It’s a throwdown... Event gives filmmakers a chance to strut stuff

Posted: Thursday, February 15, 2007

Natasha Ala is nervous about “besmirchment.”

The programs and exhibits coordinator for the Kenai Convention and Visitors Bureau has been working on a short film for the last 36 days for Bobs Shorts Video Throwdown13 to be held at the Kenai Cultural and Visitors Center on Saturday. She’s not sure if she’ll get her film done. She may have to face the Conference of Besmirchment if it’s not completed in time.

According to Bob Curtis Johnson, founder of the Bobs Shorts Video Throwdowns, besmirchment is meant to be in fun.

“That’s hilarious, or can be. And I do admit to being besmirched in the past. And besmirchment is basically, it’s the feather pillow that, we bop people with when they, you know, they don’t deliver on time,” he said.

“I might be getting one of those,” Ala said.

Sign up for the Video Shorts Throwdown began after a workshop in January at the visitors center.

Jan Bobek, another aspiring filmmaker, attended the workshop. The experience got her excited for the process.

“The workshop was great. Everything I wanted to know as a beginner, he answered. He was real down to earth, even though I knew he’d made a lot of films. He talked to us like equals,” she said of Johnson.

Bobek’s film is finished and will be screened at the Throwdown. Johnson also will screen several films from past Throwdowns and new works by filmmakers in other parts of the state. Each film is limited to 10 minutes in length, and there will be more than 2 1/2 hours worth of video shorts, starting at 7 p.m. Saturday.

The deadline for filmmakers is key to the process.

“We want you to be a little nervous, that’s a great motivator. Part of this is you’re stepping out a little bit and you’re saying, ‘You know, by gosh, I’m going to commit to this, and I’m big enough to present whatever I make,’” Johnson said.

He also said it takes a lot of guts to sign up for a throwdown and put oneself out there.

“It’s hard to play the shrinking violet as a filmmaker. You’ve got to be able to get up and say, ‘Here’s what I made. Here’s how it succeeded. Here’s what my goals were.’ And if we didn’t do that as a group, there’d be so much less value, I think, because others can learn from your experience.”

Ala isn’t sure if she’ll finish her short, but she’s been looking forward to the opportunity since she saw a Throwdown four years ago. She’s purchased a new computer with software that makes it easier to create video. She’s been learning the software and trying to create her piece all at once, and it’s been a challenge for her.

But she hasn’t given up hope, yet.

“What you get is what you get at the end of the period,” she said.

Admission to Throwdown is $6.

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