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Fifty-four Film Fest set for February 15-17 in West Hills

KNOXVILLE -- Fifty-four Film Fest, in conjunction with Regal Cinemas, CTV and Creative DCP, will host its second annual Knoxville film festival on February 15-17 in West Hills.

The event comprises a weekend-long film competition, screening and networking. Over 500 independent filmmakers and their families are expected to attend this year's screenings.

Owner and CEO James Thayer said that after competing for years as a freelancer, he wanted to create a better environment for Knoxville filmmakers to stretch their creative muscles.

"The 54 Film Fest was born out of the culmination of my experiences with similar film competitions," Thayer said. "We ditched the bad, kept the good and put a little spin on things."

That spin includes unique genres such as Live Action Video Game and Supervillain and six more hours to compensate for computer issues and feedback from judges.

Fifty-four Film Fest is built around a shootout format: teams have 54 hours to write, film, edit and produce a short film. Each team is assigned a genre, prop, line of dialogue and an action to include in its film.

In addition, teams can attempt to complete the Curveball Challenge, where teams receive an additional element to include in their films 24 hours into the project.

"The Curveball Challenge is meant to reflect the strains of real life filmmaking," Thayer said. "Your investor or producer may decide to change things around on short notice—halfway into production. It's rough, but the winner receives a unique prize."

The competition began in 2012 with 170 East Tennessee independent filmmakers producing 23 short films within 54 hours. Two weeks later, 54 Film Fest sold out its inaugural screening.

This year, Thayer plans to open five more 54 Film Fests, with the first to open in Murfreesboro March 1-3.

CTV returns this year to host the inception meeting, where teams will receive their elements, while Regal Downtown West joins as the new host for the two March 3 screenings.

The entry fee for teams wishing to compete is $50. Tickets for the screening cost $8.

For more information about 54 Film Fest, including how to enter, please visit

Published January 23, 2013

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