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50 Hour Film Competition - Frequently Asked Questions...

The Lost Episode Festival Toronto (LEFT) is once again hosting the 50 Hour Film Competition - a sleep deprived filmmaking marathon weekend in which you and your team have an unforgettable time writing, directing, shooting, and editing a complete short film in just 50 hours.

This June, on Friday the 13th at 7pm, every registered team is simultaneously emailed a character, a line of dialogue, and a prop, that MUST be included in their film. This year every team will be given the genre HORROR. Then teams have only 50 hours (or less) to complete and submit their film, online or in person.

ALL films, even the late ones, will be shown on the big screen at the (fully licensed) Bloor Cinema. The films that were on time however will be graded by our panel of judges and the winners will receive CASH, PRIZES, and of course FAME! Even if our judges don't select your film, you still have one last chance to win the AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARD (including $666 in CASH!), even if it means inviting everyone you know to the screening and bribing them to vote for you.

Aside from our rules, this challenge is part of a film festival, so it will be screening at the Bloor Cinema, one of the largest and most beautiful theatres in Toronto. The Bloor is also licensed, so you can have a beer with your friends and family and really enjoy everyone's work. Best of all, the entry fee for the competition is less than half of what you normally pay to participate in a film competition. Our competition starts at the early-bird entry fee of only $66 (until May 12th), regular fee is $75 (until May 31st), that's cheap!

All you need is a camera and a few friends (your team) willing to spend an insanely great weekend with you making a film.

No. You don't have to be a Canadian resident, and you don't have to be here in Toronto (though we'd love it if you were). Our competition is open to the entire planet (we're also open to any space aliens who can get here). Some restrictions apply, see rules.

Heck no! Anyone can make a film. ALL skill levels are welcome. Be sure to check out our TIPS & TRICKS! Filmmaking competitions don't have to be about making a hollywood blockbuster or a grande piece of art, they are about learning to make films and having a good time. Make something that YOU like, and in all likelihood someone else will enjoy it on some level as well.

That's easy! Ask your friends and family. Post on your Facebook or Twitter that you are looking for friends to compete with, or post on our Facebook group and let everyone know you have a position available on your team or that you are looking to join a team (be sure to mention anything you're good at).

So far we have lined up over $16,000 worth of prizes!

That's not all! We're still adding as many sponsors as we can find, to get our filmmakers a ton of great prizes. Once we've locked down all of our sponsors and we know how many teams will be competing, we can finalize our prize packs.

The 2014 competition starts this June on Friday the 13th at 7pm and ends 50 hours later on Sunday June 15th at 9pm.

The early-bird entry fee is only $66 (until May 12th), regular fee is $75 (until May 31st), late fee $99. In case you're bad at math, that means a 6 person team only contributes $10 a head. That's cheap!

Anything you want, as long as the secret elements we'll be providing (character, dialogue, and prop) are all included. This genre for this year is HORROR, and that includes scary horror, funny horror, and anything in-between.

YES! We have an agreement with ACTRA Toronto to allow their members to participate in this years event. That means you can use Union Actors, Background Performers & Stunt People & non-union talent if you like.

If you think you have time, though you probably won't. It would be best to really polish one entry than to send in multiple weak ones. If you are doing a commercial, you might have time to do two 30 second spots. Plan your time wisely!


No. If you are trying to wow an audience, shorter is better. Aim for 5 minutes. Shoot a lot, and edit it down to whatever you think is the perfect length. You're in charge.

No! That would be cheating. You can however: assemble a team including actors and crew, get all the equipment you will need, practice with the equipment so there will be no surprises, and scout some locations. All of that is fair. DO NOT work on props, costumes, writing or anything else creative before the competition officially starts. Play fair!

The required elements (prop, line, character) will FIRST be broadcast on our twitter @50HourFilm and @LostEpisodeFest, and then be emailed to all teams simultaneously June 13th at 7PM EST sharp. If you want to get a jump on some teams follow us on twitter to see the announcement first.

  • PROP: MUST appear on screen. You can show the object, a photo of it, a drawing of it, etc.
  • LINE: MUST be spoken EXACTLY as provided, or appear clearly written on screen.
  • CHARACTER: An on screen character MUST have this name, male or female is up to you. The name must be said aloud or appear on a name tag, business card, etc.

NTSC (not PAL). 1080 HD (suggested). Any file type (mov, mp4, avi, mkv, etc) that will play in VLC is accepted. Uncompressed codec is best, but up to you. 5 minutes in length (suggested). Your film MUST start with a 2 second title card that states "Made for the 50 HOUR FILM Competition 2014. @50HourFilm - lostepisodefest.com/50hour", followed by 2 seconds of black, a title card stating "Team Name, Film Name, City/Country, Date", your film, 2 seconds of black, and then MUST end with a 2 second title card that states "Made for the 50 HOUR FILM Competition 2014. @50HourFilm - lostepisodefest.com/50hour".

Yes. All of the following needs to be printed and signed. We NEED the originals. Hand these to us Sunday night in your envelope, or mail them to us asap AFTER the competition ends.

Download paperwork here:

The drop off is from 8pm-9pm inside Paupers Pub at 539 Bloor Street West on the south side of the street across from the Bloor Cinema. The closest subway is Bathurst Station. Google Map

If you can’t attend the drop off, your film MUST have started uploading via the free online service http://free.mailbigfile.com to info@lostepisodefest.com BEFORE 9pm on Sunday June 15th. It does not matter if it takes a long time to finish uploading, we will simply check the time stamp to know when it started uploading. If you wish to use an alternative (dropbox, ftp, etc.) you may, but email us the link to the file IMMEDIATELY. All submissions MUST be before 9pm.

Simple. Read the rules and contact us if you have any questions or are unclear about anything. Then REGISTER below for 3 simple steps to get your team started. (2014 Registration now closed).

Please CONTACT US, and we'll get back to you ASAP.

50 Hour Film Competition - BEHIND THE SCENES!

Behind the scenes photos uploaded to instagram by the 2014 teams, while the competition is underway.

50 Hour Film Competition - TIPS & TRICKS!

Here at the Lost Episode Festival Toronto, we don’t just host the annual 50 HOUR FILM Competition, our crew also participate in film challenges all over the world. Even if you’ve never tried a time based filmmaking challenge, or even if you’ve never made a short film before, this guide will give you the tips you need to do your best work.

TIP 01 ... The MORE people, the BETTER!
Being short handed can really eat up time. Assemble as many people as you can manage to help out, even if they don’t have any film skills. Aside from the usual suspects (Editor, Director, Writer(s), Cinematographer, LOTS of Actors to choose from) you’ll also NEED someone to handle sound (and maybe a boom pole), and someone for lights. We also recommend a continuity person (to watch for errors), a driver (to fetch stuff), a caterer (ask mom to make sandwiches), and an assistant (to take notes). Some people can do double duty, but it’s handy to have too many people, rather than not enough.

TIP 02 ... Test ALL of the equipment beforehand!
Testing and fixing equipment on the day of the competition can cripple a team.
  • Know what camera and what lenses you are going to use and make sure your cinematographer is familiar with all of their functions.
  • Do you have extra batteries? Make sure they are charged.
  • Do you have an extra camera card? Format them, and make sure they work.
  • Do you have a USB key to save your film? Format it and make sure it works.
  • Test your editing setup! Is it up to date? Can you export ok?
  • Have extension cords, extra bulbs, a boom pole (or a broom handle) ready.
  • Test your mic!
  • Test your lights!

TIP 03 ... Actors (you can use BOTH non-union & ACTRA)
Since you don’t know what your writer(s) will come up with before the competition actually starts, it’s helpful to have access to LOTS of actors so any role imagined can be filled. Try to find people of different height, race, sex, and age, some with facial hair some without (clean shaven and bald is great for makeup fx and wigs!). Post on Mandy.com, Facebook, Craigslist, and Kijiji, and you’re sure to get lots of inquiries. Remember you can use regular people, and professional actors (ACTRA) thanks to the agreement we have with ACTRA Toronto.

TIP 04 ... Required Elements & Playing Fair
Remember that EVERY film MUST be in the genre of HORROR (horror, horror-comedy, horror-romance, as long as there is horror), and MUST feature ALL of the required elements that we will be providing you (prop, line of dialogue, character). If your missing even one, you will not be eligible for prizes.

If it seems like you CHEATED and made ANY part of your film before the start of the competition (including writing ANYTHING like scenes, ideas, characters, etc.) you will be disqualified and you will not be eligible for prizes or a refund.
  • DON’T brainstorm your film ahead of time, or write anything.
  • DON’T make costumes or props ahead of time.
  • DON’T shoot anything you plan to use.
  • DO PLAY FAIR! It’s more fun for everyone.

TIP 05 ... Sound can make or break a film
A LOT of 50 hours films can be completely ruined by bad sound. It is CRITICAL to test the sound in every location to make sure there is NOT unusable background noise like the hum of a refrigerator, air conditioner, or highway.
  • Try to prevent background noise by unplugging things and checking each location by shooting 30 secs of video and listening with headphones.
  • If you can’t get rid of noise, try noise reduction in your editing software
  • Make sure people aren’t talking on set, and phones are off. Move people to another area away from the shot if you aren’t using them. Same for pets.
  • Buy or borrow the BEST microphone you can, and get it as CLOSE to the subject as possible (this is where a boom pole comes in handy), or hide it close to the actors.
  • Shooting outside when it’s windy can produce a lot of noise. Try this out before hand and make sure you’re prepared for these conditions.
  • Don’t forget to add foley to you film, a good door creak can really sell a scene.
  • Use music appropriately! The right music sets the tone for the film. It tells the viewer when they should be scared. Do NOT use copyright music, find royalty free tunes, like classical music, unsigned artists, and your friends bands instead.

TIP 06 ... Storyboarding, Scheduling & Notes
The best way to make a film is to plan as much as you can! We use Shot Lister Pro to storyboard and make schedules. Alternatively, draw your storyboards (even as stick figures if you can’t draw) on colored index cards (from the Dollar store) and plan each shot. Then you can re-order the cards how you want to tell the story, and check each one off as you’ve completed that shot. Make a schedule that divides up the 50 hours the way you think it should be spent, that way you know when one task is taking too long. I put my phone on vibrate and set reminders for each critical task. REMEMBER: Your film is due Sunday, June 15th before 9pm sharp. You MUST have started the upload, or handed it to a staff member by then.

Here is a simple example schedule for the 50 hours:
  • Fri, 7pm - Start Writing
  • Sat, 7am - Assemble Shoot Crew, discuss project
  • Sat, 8am - Block scene and rehearse
  • Sat, 9am - Start Shooting
  • Sat, 11:59pm - Wrap Shooting
  • Sun, 12:01am - Start Editing
  • Sun, 6pm - Test export film
  • Sun, 7pm - Be ready to upload or deliver film

TIP 07 ... Green Screen (Chromakey Effects)
If you plan on using green screen for effects, try it out beforehand. Green screen (or blue) requires very uniform lighting to really pull off well. There is a great tutorial at FilmRiot at 00:31 here: http://revision3.com/filmriot/greenscreentips

TIP 08 ... Find Locations
It’s okay (and highly recommended) that you find locations you can shoot at (like a park, business, home) and figure out the logistics of shooting there before the competition. Such as:
  • How are you going to get everyone to the location(s)?
  • Is there power at the location that you can access?
  • Check noise levels. Is there something nearby that makes a lot of noise that you won’t be able to do anything about? (highway, air conditioner, etc.)

TIP 09 ... Costumes, Wardrobe & Props
It’s really handy to have someone on your team that can sew, craft, or otherwise build props and costumes. Failing that, a good source for these things in Toronto is: It’s My Party (423 Danforth Avenue), Malabar (14 McCaul Street), Goodwill, & Value Village. This is where a driver is handy!

TIP 10 ... Food & Drinks
Almost every set I’ve been on had a craft table. This is an area where everyone can grab food and drinks to keep their energy up. A hungry person is not a helpful person. Common items you should have are:
  • Peanut Butter, Jam, & Bread
  • Apples, Oranges, Bananas
  • Cookies, Chips, Candies
  • WATER! Juice, Pop, Energy Drinks, Tea, Coffee
  • Mill St Beer ... but save it until you’ve wrapped!

TIP 11 ... Learn How to Delegate!
So you’re the team leader/producer/director, and that means you’re in charge and you should oversee everything, right? WRONG! A good leader will choose people to organise tasks and let them do it. For example, you can rehearse a scene elsewhere while your set is being build/dressed/lit. That will keep the actors energy up and give you better performances that require less input. Get as many people doing something for the film at the same time, to maximize the little time you have.

TIP 12 ... Improv & Camera Angles
Improv is great on set. It lets actors do what they do best, play, and can often get you better and/or more natural dialogue. Please remember however, it is harder to cut together in editing if every take you have is wildly different, especially if there are multiple angles. This can be partially solved with a two camera setup, which catches both sides of a two person conversation when improvising.

TIP 13 ... Get Rest & Know When to Take a Break
Be well rested before the competition. Don’t push yourself or your team too hard during the 50 hours. If anyone (including you) starts to get frustrated, take a 15 minute break, go outside, breathe deeply, relax somewhere, have a KitKat, and/or shut your eyes for a bit. When you come back you’ll be a lot more productive and less likely to make mistakes.

Good Luck!
Winners from Previous 50 Hour Competitions...
Congratulations to all of the previous participants of the 50 Hour Film Competition. Whether you won an award or not, you should be proud to have completed a film in just 50 hours. Well done!

  • 2014 BEST FILM - Trophy Husbands ... "Beer"
  • 2014 AUDIENCE CHOICE - Les Contes du Corbeau ... "Am-Sam-Gram"
  • 2014 BEST EDITING - Les Contes du Corbeau ... "Am-Sam-Gram"
  • 2014 BEST WRITING - Trophy Husbands ... "Beer"
  • 2014 BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY - Les Contes du Corbeau ... "Am-Sam-Gram"
  • 2014 BEST DIRECTING - 88mph ... "The Skivvies"
  • 2014 BEST ACTING - Vengeance Cinema ... "Never Have I Ever" (Asha Talbert)
  • 2014 RUNNER-UP BEST ACTING - Foibles Productions ... "One More Lie To Go" (Cass Van Wyck)
  • 2014 BEST CHILD STAR - Horror Buffs ... "Forbidden Fruit" (Julia Goold)
  • 2014 BEST LIGHTING - 88mph ... "The Skivvies"
  • 2014 BEST COSTUME - Shudder Stalkers ... "The Stagette"
  • 2014 BEST ART - Les Contes du Corbeau ... "Am-Sam-Gram"
  • 2014 BEST PRACTICAL FX - Legacy Studios ... "Dead and Breakfast"
  • 2014 BEST KILL - Shudder Stalkers ... "The Stagette"
  • 2014 BEST GAG - True Philosopher Films ... "Frankenpants"
  • 2014 BEST TWIST - VideoMonkey Productions ... "30 Minutes or it's Free"
  • 2014 BEST LINE - Impossibilia! ... "Lovers from Beyond the Grave"
  • 2014 BEST USE OF PROP - 88mph ... "The Skivvies"
  • 2014 BEST SOUND - Trophy Husbands ... "Beer"
  • 2014 HONORABLE MENTIONS - Dark Red for Sound, Impossibilia for Titles, Mouthy Kid Entertainment for Directing, Noah's Arc for Graphics, Rose13 for On-Screen Rivalry, Shudder Stalkers for Best Eyebrows, VideoMonkey for Runner-Up Best Kill, and Two-Bit Operation for Creepiest Film & Best Audience Reaction.

  • 2013 BEST FILM - Squidling Productions ... "The Bachelor Special"
  • 2013 AUDIENCE CHOICE - Threat Level Midnight ... "Undercover Hobo"
  • 2013 BEST EDITING - RoRiRo ... "The New Dirty Jobs"
  • 2013 BEST WRITING - Threat Level Midnight ... "Undercover Hobo"
  • 2013 BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY - Squidling Productions ... "The Bachelor Special"
  • 2013 BEST DIRECTING - Squidling Productions ... "The Bachelor Special"
  • 2013 BEST ACTING - 88mph ... "Chappy" (Andrew Chapman)
  • 2013 BEST LIGHTING - RoRiRo ... "The New Dirty Jobs"
  • 2013 BEST COSTUME/DRESSING - Squidling Productions ... "The Bachelor Special"
  • 2013 BEST ART/FX - 88mph ... "Chappy"
  • 2013 BEST CHARACTER - RoRiRo ... "The New Dirty Jobs"
  • 2013 BEST LINE - Threat Level Midnight ... "Undercover Hobo"
  • 2013 BEST USE OF PROP - Squidling Productions ... "The Bachelor Special"
  • 2013 BEST SOUND - RoRiRo ... "The New Dirty Jobs"
Sponsors & Festival Partners...
We are always looking for new partners to support our festival. As a non-profit event, LEFT relies solely on ticket sales and sponsorship for funding. By supporting the festival, sponsors help to further the exhibition of independent film and cultural initiatives in Toronto. You will directly benefit by reaching a culturally savvy audience through advertising in the festival’s website, newsletter, logos on print materials, and physically at the screenings themselves. We are proud to offer all partners, large and small, custom-tailored opportunities designed to fit your objectives and needs.

To learn about how you can partner with the Lost Episode Festival Toronto (LEFT), and to receive a copy of our 2014 Sponsorship Information Package, please email us at: info@lostepisodefest.com

Thank you to all of the sponsors and community parnters that have made the Lost Episode Festival Toronto possible.

If you would like to support our festival by making a donation of a product or service that we can offer as a prize to our filmmakers, please email us at: info@lostepisodefest.com

To make a monetary donation by credit card or PayPal, please click the button below.
Any amount is appreciated!

Contact Us...
You can contact the Lost Episode Festival Toronto (LEFT)
by using any of the following methods listed below. We will do
our best to get back to you within 24 hours.

Info (General Mailbox) - info@lostepisodefest.com

Johnny (Sponsors/Media) - johnny@lostepisodefest.com
Nicole (Volunteer Inquiries) - nicole@lostepisodefest.com
Brad (Film Submissions) - brad@lostepisodefest.com
Mark (Film Submissions) - mark@lostepisodefest.com

Lost Episode Fest - @lostepisodefest
50 Hour Film Competition - @50hourfilm

Official Facebook Page - facebook.com/lostepisodefest

If you see us in person, try shouting & flailing your arms.
That usually works for me.

Never flailed before? ( see example )

Lost Episode Festival Toronto (LEFT)
14 Midburn Avenue, Toronto, Ontario
M4C 2C9 Canada

(No C.O.D's / Submissions not returned)
The LEFT Crew...
The LEFT Crew
© 2013-2014 Lost Episode Festival Toronto (LEFT)
Toronto, Canada / Author: Johnny Larocque

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