CFO supports SATO 48 film challenge

This weekend, films created as part of the Springfield and the Ozarks 48-hour film challenge, SATO 48, will screen at the Moxie Cinema in downtown Springfield. Now in it’s third year, the Community Foundation of the Ozarks provided SATO 48 with its initial funding with a grant to the Springfield Regional Arts Council as part of CFO’s Metropolitan Springfield Grantmaking Program.

The SATO 48 screenings this weekend are also part of Arts in Action: The 10 Weeks Festival and the Arts Programming Sustainability Initiative, so when you catch a short film this weekend, be sure to kick in an extra buck for the arts.

SATO 48 is a short-film challenge where filmmakers must create a five-minute short film in only forty-eight hours. The challenge is they don’t know what the film must be about until the last moment.

In each of its 3 years the number of filmmaking teams participating has grown in number as well as geographical reach. In the first year 30 teams joined in, the second year saw 40 teams, and this year 48 teams paid their $20 registration fee to join in.

Each team, including actors, crew, and production personnel has, on average, ten members so this represents a significant number of area artists.

In addition to the teams themselves the greater community also gets involved: Many friends, family and fans attend the films’ screenings at The Moxie Cinema; a Local Selection Committee of representatives from government, the arts, education, and business, select the top 10 films which go on to be judged by a panel of International Judges who bestow Academy Award-style recognition; and finally, an Awards Ceremony is held to acknowledge all the filmmakers, announce the winners and give cash prizes.

Sustainability revenue is generated through the filmmakers’ registration fee, the ticket price for The Moxie Cinema screenings, and a cover charge to the Awards Ceremony.

Part of the SATO 48 strategy is to keep the registration fee very low so more filmmakers are encouraged to participate. More filmmaking teams means more friends, family, fans and “word of mouth” attendees at the Screenings and the Awards Ceremony. The entrance fee for these two events is also kept very low so the largest crowd possible is attained.

This low-fee approach also throws a much wider net for discovering new talent as it lowers the barrier for participation, and helps build a base of filmmakers who participate year after year.

Additionally, SATO 48 shares in the copyright of every film so any future revenue that might be generated, for example by a sale, would contribute to keeping SATO 48 financially viable.

Keeping focus on finances for a moment, while it is true that the Awards Ceremony is a significant budget item, it is also an opportunity for the Organizers of SATO 48 to “give back” to the participants. The filmmakers themselves bear the financial brunt of making their film, and while The Moxie shares in the revenues of the screenings all-in-all SATO 48 essentially piggybacks on their infrastructure, so the Awards Ceremony and After-Party is where SATO 48 reinvests a portion of its revenue stream to celebrate the art and artists of filmmaking.

Apart from financial sustainability, SATO 48 actively looks for ways to grow the number of teams who participate — “soft” sustainability, if you will. The goal is to be the #1 destination for filmmakers to showcase their talent year after year.

To achieve this vision:

  • The business community is encouraged to think of SATO 48 as a “recruitment tool” where they can quickly assess local talent who can “shoot well, quickly.” An online database facilitates this process. When filmmakers know that an ever-growing group of potential employers is looking at their work it makes sense for them to be part of the “hot new crop” of films being evaluated each year.
  • The panel of International Judges grows and diversifies each year so area filmmakers are given a worldwide venue from “Hollywood to Bollywood.” This global exposure is especially valuable in an era where the Internet and broadband access have made “physical location” less of a factor than “talent” in determining who gets work.
  • Expanding screening opportunities are generated that include Founders Park Summer Film Series, a developing PBS series, and online showcasing (a 2007 SATO 48 film gained “Featured Video” status on YouTube and went from 1,200 views to a quarter million views in only 4 days).
  • Effort is made, even though the economy is altering downward, to keep prize money awards steady.

To the degree SATO 48 must rely on outside resources, long lead times are afforded to our partners to give them plenty of time to work SATO 48 needs into their existing workflow. Additionally, requests are kept narrow in focus to both relieve burden on the partner and allow for rapid redeployment should a resource fall through.

From an aesthetic point of view, SATO 48 operates on two simple principles:

> The challenge is open to any and all who agree to the rules notwithstanding their affiliation

> Irrespective of content, all films which meet the challenge will be screened together

You can see a number of films from past SATO 48 challenges on You Tube.

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