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Shorts for short attention spans

June 30, 2011

Oxford Town — At first it was just a funny idea. Then it started to make more sense. What if on a limited budget, they make a series of 10-minute films about various themes?

So Jillian Pecoraro pitched the idea to the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council to get ideas on how to make the dream a reality.

“I’m not really sure how it all began, but I do remember proposing the idea for 10 Minute Films, just random short films about anything that are concise and to the point,” Pecoraro said. “We wrote down about 12 and then decided we were probably sitting on a goldmine and we had to make these into movies. No more talk of making movies, it was time for actual movie-making.”

Pecoraro set up an indiegogo account to raise funds. The crowd funding source is similar to Kickstarter but is used primarily for filmmaking ventures. Filming locations and crew are also set and other pre-production work is currently underway.

“As the director of the Arts Council I think it is important to assist artist in refining their vision and looking at how to make it into a viable and sustainable model,” YAC Director Wayne Andrews said. “What I liked about the 10 Minute Film concept was that instead of creating just one film it can be an on-going series based in our community that can work on a budget.”

The films will be shot locally with some Memphis production for one film about homelessness.

The first three films in the series

“Things Street People Say”

Anyone that has lived in a city has been panhandled. It seems that a panhandler will say almost anything to part their victim with a few dollars, with such excuses as “my baby needs food!” to “my car has broken down!” This film will cover the different techniques panhandlers use to part people with a dollar. We hope to discover if there is a time-tested patter that is universal to all panhandlers. By the way, sir, could you spare $750 for us to make a film?

“Abandoned Building”

The homes and buildings we live and work in have stories just as interesting as the people that lived and worked in them. Urban sprawl, our aging population and migrating populations have left behind buildings. Homes, businesses and public buildings slowly decay as their stories are lost. This film will uncover the story of an abandoned building.

“That Strange Thing on the Grocery Shelf”

Once the local grocery was just that: a local store that carried regional foods which appealed to the resident culinary heritage. The local grocery stocked foods and preserved the regional diet. The rise of the national grocery store chain has decreased region foods on the shelf and has homogenized our diet. The reason for sauerkraut juice and other regional foodstuffs is being lost as the last cans of these items disappear from store shelves. In “Strange Things on the Grocery Shelf,” the 10 Minute Film team will discover the history behind regional food products and taste them to understand the why they are a part of our disappearing culinary history. We will be eating some weird stuff, and we will need Tums — so please donate!

Andrews said the production allows continued filmmaking in Lafayette County on a small scale budget.

“Lafayette County has been strong in attracting independent films which have employed local crews and actors. Having a small production based in the community that seeks to produce new works annually will add to the opportunities for local talent as well as attract other to film in the community,” Andrews said.

For Pecoraro, after graduating with her degree in Spanish and English from the University of Mississippi, film work was not her first plan. But, after fruitless searches for local jobs, she decided to get involved with some local productions. She began as a prop coordinator for “Where I Begin,” and then did production assistant work for “Lukos” and “The Hanging of Big Todd Wade.”

This summer, she will also work on Jim Shollenberger’s newest feature being filmed in Oxford, but The 10-minute Films will be her first artistic vision as a filmmaker.

“After these three 10 Minute Films, we hope to make three more. We have a list of ideas that grows every day,” Pecoraro said.

The filmmaker is looking to raise $750 for production which includes transportation, promotion and film festival entry fees, duplication and packaging and props and food samples for the “That Strange Thing on the Grocery Shelf.”

Funds are set aside for camera equipment and editing software.

The indiegogo campaign ends Aug. 4. Donations can be given online at www.indiegogo.com/10MinuteFilms or by donating odd, non-perishable food items to 10 Minute Films, PO BOX 544, Oxford, MS 38655. You can also follow along or give “strange food” suggestions on their Facebook Page at “10 Minute Films.”

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