The MockSides Ultimate Filmmaker Challenge is a write-around throw-down

Like so many good ideas, David Dalton's idea for the MockSides Ultimate Filmmaker Challenge essentially sprang from thrift: Dalton had a bunch of stuff lying around and wanted to think up something to do with it. Specifically, he had scripts. Lots of scripts. Now he wants you to take one of those scripts and make a short film with it, and he and his production company, DS StudioWorks, are offering up a $1,000 prize for your efforts, thus proving the age-old axiom: thrift = profit.

"The term 'sides' refers to particular pages of a script," Dalton explains. "When an actor auditions, they're not given the entire screenplay, they're just given the parts of the script that their character appears in -- it's that character's 'side' of the story. It's an old industry term."

Part of the what DS StudioWorks does is to help actors prepare for auditions, and to do that, they need sides. So instead of going out and finding scripts for his actors to take sides from, Dalton and his partner, Chad Schnackel, just wrote their own -- and since those scripts are stand-alone works that are not actually a part of any existing work, they're called "mock sides." Those mock sides accumulated.

"So we thought, well, we didn't know what to do with them," Dalton says, "so we launched a website called mocksides.com where we put all of our scripts."

But Dalton wanted to do something more with them than just put them on a website, and thence came the filmmaker challenge, where he hopes they'll be put to good use. It's based on what Dalton calls a "write-around," where you take the scene DS gives you (filmmakers won't know what it is until the challenge officially starts) and then build the rest of a short film around it.

Tomorrow, DS will get the challenge off the ground with a meet-up from 5 - 10 p.m. at the LOT at RiNo-DS StudioWorks, 3435 Wynkoop Street, Lower Level, where prospective filmmakers can show up, get registered (it's $50 to enter) and meet a few DS actors, should they care to use them in the films. From there, they'll have six days to get ready.

At 7 p.m. on Thursday, January 27, the challenge will officially begin: In the space of 72 hours, the filmmakers will shoot, edit and complete a film working from a MockSides script. Here's how Dalton explains the rules:

"They cannot add or omit any dialog or characters within the scene that we give them; they have to shoot it exactly as it's written. They can put the scene in the beginning, middle or end of the movie. It's up to them, but it has to be the complete scene. The film cannot be any less than six minutes or more than eight minutes."

And, of course, it has to be turned in not a second later than the 7 p.m. deadline on Sunday, January 30.

From there, the Judges will score the films and decide on finalists and a winner, which will be announced at the screening and awards ceremony at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo Street, on Friday, February 4. The winner gets a cool $1,000, courtesy of Jansen & Associates, Attorneys at Law, DS's sponsor for the event.

For more details, visit the MockSides website. And get ready to throw down.

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