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Amateur films delight audience

February 27, 2005|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

A good deal of thought can go into one second of videotape, independent moviemakers said at Saturday night's debut Washington County U Create Film Festival.

Stories simple and perplexing, light and dark, bloody and serene rolled at the festival, which was at Hagerstown Community College.

Chris Long of Middletown, Md., made a short film called "Spring," about a man welcoming the warm weather by flying a kite.

The most difficult camera shot was a snippet from the point of view of the kite, looking down on the man flying it.

Long - who drives a bookmobile in Frederick County, Md. - said the best spot he could find was the observation tower at the Civil War battlefield in Gettysburg, Pa., but he wasn't allowed to stay there long.

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Jonathan Austin directed "Tunnel," about three girls killed by a dark figure as they explore a closed-down Pennsylvania tunnel.

Austin, who works at After Five Productions in Williams-port, said he decided to reshoot the ending on his own.

He wanted to show the last girl getting killed through the windshield of her vehicle. Austin said he filmed a split-second shot of shattering glass with help from his family at home.

For another second of footage, in which the girl's guts splatter, he flung a mixture of "fake blood and tuna fish and whatever we could find," he said.

Austin said it was exciting to see his first movie screened for an audience. As his DVD rolled, he turned to his producer, Tracy Hollinshead, and said, "We did it."

Austin said his second film, "Reason for Revenge," is scheduled to be finished in March. He included a trailer before "Tunnel."

Other filmmakers spoke briefly about their work, too.

The 15 short films - which included experimental works - were scheduled to be shown Jan. 22, but a snowstorm canceled the screening.

It was rescheduled for Saturday, with little notice. Still, 100 people filled a small auditorium for two free hours of independent movies, at no charge.

"I'm so impressed," said John Venditta, associate director of Western Maryland Public Libraries. He was on a panel that reviewed the films in December. "It was so great."

The only guidelines were 10 minutes as a maximum length and content no stronger than PG-13.

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