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Local filmmakers enter prestigious competition

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The two clocks counted down simultaneously.

One told Jeremy Harvey and Joe Leavell how much time they had left to submit their short film in the 100 Hour Film Race. They had spent the past four days putting together a script, recruiting actors and running around Indianapolis shooting scenes.

The other clock warned how long the final step of finishing the film would be complete.

“There was panic. The blood drained from my face. I didn’t think it was happening, and we were preparing for the disappointment,” Leavell said.

But with minutes to spare, the Greenwood-based filmmakers beat their deadline and have seen their movie move up in the prestigious contest. Harvey and Leavell had their project officially accepted in the 100 Hour Film Race, a New York-based movie-making contest.

Competitors were given 100 hours to write, shoot, edit and submit a short film. Only the best of the submissions were accepted for the contest.

Fighting snowy weather, equipment failures and the clock, Leavell and Harvey created something that they think could be a stepping stone in their career.

That’s the ticket

Filmmakers: Jeremy Harvey and Joe Leavell

Set in: Downtown Indianapolis

Summary: A vaguely futuristic look at renewal, age and growing old.

Cast: Tabitha Miller, Vickie Bridges, Caleb Nunoz, Zachary Miller and Bill Levin.

Awards: Accepted to the 100 Hour Film Race 2013; first runner-up in the poster design competition.

Future projects: Leavell and Harvey are planning new projects and looking for those with an interest in film to help out. Contact Harvey at jeremy@geekchunks.com to learn more.

“No matter how the movie came out, I was proud of what we accomplished in the time we had,” said Harvey, who works as a computer specialist for the city of Greenwood. “All that stress, but at the end of the day, all that mattered is that we had fun with it.”

“Metanoia” is a science fiction-style movie set in the near future. The title comes from the Greek word for “repentance.”

Though they didn’t want to spoil the twists in the story, Harvey described it as the O. Henry story, “Gift of the Magi,” only with renewing themselves.

“From the very beginning, we made it clear we didn’t want to do something that was so story-driven that it made the audience feel stupid,” said Leavell, a photographer. “We wanted it to not be open-ended, and we wanted it to be powerful enough that people wanted to watch it again.”

Harvey and Leavell have been making movies together since they were kids. They had known each other since middle school and can remember lugging around an old JVC video camera to make stop-action type films after school.

The two worked together off and on ever since. They made an adaptation of the Stephen King short story “In the Deathroom,” which premiered at the Historic Artcraft Theatre in 2011.

Other projects included music videos and short films. They had heard about film racing competitions but had never tried one until learning about the 100 Hour Film Race.

“We had no idea what to expect. It’s definitely on a bigger scale.When you see films from Sweden knocking it out of the park, it’s a lot to take in,” Harvey said.

The 100 Hour Film Race is an international competition that draws thousands of submissions each year. The films have to be short, no longer than 5 minutes, 30 seconds.

Filmmakers are challenged to produce a movie in 100 hours or less. And because each year’s competition has a select theme, action and prop, participants cannot get started early.

The competition has been conducted for the past seven years, serving as a companion to 24-hour film races also put on by Film Racing.

It encourages quality movie-making done efficiently, pointedly and, most of all, quickly.

The race started at 8 p.m. Dec. 12. At exactly that moment, competition organizers sent out a mass email giving the parameters of this year’s films.

Movie-makers would have to create a film that dealt with renewal, incorporating the action of checking the time and including ice as a prop.

Harvey and Leavell had done some preparation. They lined friends who agreed to serve as the cast and crew and scouted locations in downtown Indianapolis to shoot.

But with the competition requirements in hand, the first job on that Thursday night was writing a script. Harvey spent the night and most of the day Friday writing the film’s story, while Leavell went searching for futuristic scraps that could be turned into props.

An ill-timed snowstorm delayed filming the first night, so making the movie didn’t start until Saturday.

Their futuristic story required some out-of-the-ordinary acting from the cast.

One scene required lead actress Tabitha Miller to be submerged in a tank filled with milk. Another scene had the characters running through a minefield of spare steel automobile parts as part of the action.

They filmed at four Indianapolis locations, including near the downtown canal and at the Stutz Art Center. With all of their footage, they rushed home to start editing. When midnight Monday rolled around, “Metanoia” would have to be turned in to the competition organizers.

Working through the night, they put their scenes together, smoothing out rough edges and making sure the entire project flowed.

Time was running out as they worked to get it rendered. Hard drives crashed, the computer mouse broke, and everything seemed to be falling apart.

But after a frustrating few final hours, the film was uploaded. “Metanoia” was in the 100 Hour Film Race.

“By the time we edited it, rendered it, did all of that fun stuff, we had 15 minutes left,” Harvey said. “We could have lost the money we spent to make it, and all of that stress and sleep deprivation would have been for nothing.”

Leavell and Harvey already have garnered one honor in the contest. The surreal, angelic poster for “Metanoia” featuring Miller, was awarded second place in the race’s poster contest.

The filmmakers hope to next make the cut for the top 20 films, eventually lining themselves up for one of the top prizes.

They screened the film for supporters Monday night, part of a benefit for C.D.T. Pit Bull Rescue. The filmmakers were unsure when or if another screening would occur.

“I don’t want to touch it until the competition is over. If it turns out to be something to go back to, we’ll have to see,” Leavell said. “All of our other past projects have been pretty successful for guys doing it like we are. Our ultimate goal is to get a feature film that we want to see. And it gets more real every time we do it.”

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