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Monday, December 28, 2009 - Page updated at 04:34 p.m.

2009 Three-Minute Masterpiece digital film contest winners

By Michael Upchurch

Seattle Times arts writer

They're short, they're local (mostly) and they were showcased at the Seattle International Film Festival on Monday, May, 25. "They" are the nine winners of The Seattle Times' 2009 Three-Minute Masterpiece digital film contest. Their creators range in age from 14 to 40.

Ben Kadie, a 14-year-old moviemaker from Bellevue, was named the grand-prize winner of the contest with his film "Sparks in the Night." Read a Q&A with Kadie.

He is a two-time prior winner of the 3 Minute Masterpiece J. Michael Rima award for filmmakers under 18.

This year's youth winners were Sammamish High School students Duncan Dickerson and Christopher Headland, singled out for their comedy "Robot Student."

Kadie, Dickerson and Headland received prize packages from SIFF and Seattle Film Institute.

"Sparks in the Night"

Grand-prize winner: The new film by 14-year-old Bellevue student Ben Kadie — a contest finalist for the third year in a row — is a droll film-noir spoof filled with sinister shadows and daffy deadpan dialogue. Kadie's filmmaking is a family affair, with Ben writing, directing and editing; his dad assisting on the set and with computer operation; and his mom helping with costumes, carpentry, catering and transportation. "They both take direction well," Kadie says.

"Robot Student"

J. Michael Rima Award winner: Film-geekery gone wild! Two high schoolers fail to impress their classmates when they show them their movie about a young robot starting at a new school. The film-within-a-film concept was dreamed up by 17-year-old Duncan Dickerson of Sammamish High School (where the video was shot). Dickerson plays the friend of Chris Headland's sinister robot. The two have known each other since kindergarten, and Dickerson says Headland "brings a lot to the table besides his comedic talents." Dickerson created the score and robot noises on his MIDI keyboard.

"Two Forks"

This two-minute short is, literally, a kitchen-sink drama about a fork yearning for a spoon after his steamy encounter with her in the dishwasher ("I touched her tonight, briefly, in the wash cycle"). Director Susan Burns, 30, grew up in Seattle and now lives in New York. Did she play with her silverware as a child? "Not any more than normal," she says. The spoon and her fork buddy, Burns reveals, are actually "puppets" manipulated by dental floss attached to their outer prongs.

"Cirque d'Swine"

This unexpectedly topical stop-animation shortie features pigs doing circus tricks to a three-ring soundtrack. Sixteen-year-old Glynis Bawden and Sophia Marchetti, from Duvall, made the film last year. But Bawden doesn't rule out making a sequel: "Cirque d'Swine Flu." The 33-second short took her and Marchetti an hour to shoot — "Not including making the pigs."


In this parodic public-service announcement about embryonic cell research, 27-year-old writer-director Bryan Campbell, of Bellevue, plays Jack, a young man stricken with liver disease who clones himself in order to extract his double's liver. Alas, he and his clone (also Campbell) quickly bond. What kind of rapport did Campbell have with his screen "twin"? "At first I treated him like he was an object ... But as soon as I saw he was the same as me, in wanting to live, I had a hard time seeing him as anything but a brother."


A mood piece filmed at the Ballard Locks, "Interstice" is a study of walkways and water, enhanced by a terrific score by Dale Speicher and Greg Campbell. Fremont resident Martin Fossum , 40, going for "a brooding, exploratory film style," shot it on one three-minute Super-8 cartridge, doing all the editing in the camera. But the visuals, Fossum feels, make up only half the film, he says. It's the music's "tonal benediction," he says, that completes it.

"After You"

Romantic breakup ... with a gridlock twist. Two newly separated lovers have an unlikely highway encounter in this film by 31-year-old Tacoma moviemaker Dave Kellman. Kellman and his actor-writer Daniel Purcell faced one big obstacle in making this comic drama involving I-5 traffic and a bicycle: Purcell isn't a bicyclist. "I had to teach him how to do a skid for the movie," Kellman laughs.

"Gordon Date Lifter"

Gordon, a Canadian, keeps hijacking other people's blind dates in this tongue-in-cheek take on the hazards of romantic marketplace. Thirty-three-year-old director Robin Mervin, who splits his time between Seattle and New York, loved the script idea his co-writer Julie Fogerson came up with. But he isn't sure what his mum (a Canadian) will think of the film's suggestion that her compatriots should be held to higher ethical standards than your average North American. "She hasn't actually seen the video yet."

"3 Minutes of Movie Masterpieces"

Timothy Watkins and Charles Forsgren's pastiche of movie history, filmed in and around Seattle, lampoons "Casablanca," "Psycho" and other screen classics. Do these guys — whose ages, added together, are "just under 80" — do anything but live and breathe film? Not much. They co-wrote another short ("Black Coffee") playing at SIFF. Watkins' feature debut, "Keep Your Day Job, Superstar," will screen at Seattle's True Independent Film Festival (STIFF), along with a Watkins-Forsgren short titled "Action!"