Audience Awards Fusion Doc Challenge is a timed documentary challenge that gives filmmakers 120 hours to do it all – research, write, shoot, edit, finalize and submit a short documentary. “Filmmakers are known to procrastinate and Fusion pushes you out of your comfort zone,” says filmmaker Whitney Skauge. “Now when my crew is slacking on something, we tell each other, ‘Let’s just Fusion it.’”
Skauge’s film, Everyone in Between, was made during the 2015 Fusion Doc Challenge and, to date, has gone on to screen at 10 festivals, winning multiple awards. Still a college student at the time, she says entering the challenge elevated her work to another level. “Taking a film from A to Z was a tipping point: from the dream of being a filmmaker to the reality of it,” she says. Skauge and her team chose to use that year’s theme, Behind the Curtain, to show what one of the doc’s subjects, Shay Sullivan, says so eloquently: Genitals don’t equate identity. Everyone in Between unquestionably conveys this message in a mere five minutes. Thankfully, that message has been given a wide audience. As part of its platform, Fusion Doc Challenge’s top 12 films have premiered at both Big Sky Documentary and Slamdance film festivals.
“Going to Slamdance was an amazing experience,” says Skauge. “Watching my film with a live audience and then having the opportunity to answer questions about the process, [it] propelled me to want to engage in other film festivals,” says Skauge. When she returned home, she was able to tap into her university’s student association which funded submission fees and travel, giving this powerful film a year-long life on the festival circuit.
Fusion Doc Challenge films have gone on to show at countless festivals, many of them capturing awards. Ashley Seering & Cory Byers’ film Renewed was even nominated for a regional EMMY®.
This year’s top 12 will, again, screen at Slamdance Film Festival, BSDFF and also at the inaugural Audience Awards Film Festival at the historic Laemmle Theatre in LA April 2017. The first round of registrants received their genre and theme November 10th and have already begun their creative, yet masochistic, journey. The second five-day round starts on the 14th. We can’t wait to see what these brilliant artists produce.
How much can you say with how little, Audience Awards asks its filmmakers. Responses such as Skauge’s validate our belief that shorts are a credible class of film in and of themselves. And Everyone in Between proves that, in so many ways, Fusion Doc Challenge is a compelling platform. “Being selected as a screening film launched my film career,” Skauge’s says. Dreams really do start here.