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Well-versed in the art of making movies

Producers hoping to be discovered make movies based on Bible verses for annual film festival.

March 20, 2010|By Nicole Charky

In a city where major film studios and production companies are the norm, small, independent films based on the Bible stories have a competition of their own.

Contemporary scripts based on Bible verses will be presented at the eighth annual 168 Film Festival, slated for Friday at the Hope Theatre in San Fernando and March 27 at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.

More than 65 films were submitted from all over the world, including work by African, Indonesian, Mexican and Israeli film teams, and from 16 U.S. states. The festival jury selected 23 films to present.

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Anyone can enter the contest, whether they have held a camera in major motion pictures or not. Film teams shoot and edit films within 168 hours, or one week based on a randomly assigned Bible verse and the theme of the festival, “Hearing God.”

Each group has 10 days of preproduction from the time they receive their specific Bible verse. From this point, the group writes, casts, creates a schedule and books a location. Everyone has the same amount of time, whether filming takes place in Burbank or England.

Founder and director of the 168 Film Project, John David Ware, has worked with filmmakers worldwide and seen more than 300 films in the festival’s eight-year run.

“We get all kinds of people, those who are deeply devout to those who are just wanting to make a film, or people who hear about 168 through their church,” Ware said. “Some people are looking for a mountain top experience with God. Some are just looking for the opportunity to be seen and heard as a filmmaker.

“The thing that connects everybody is that each person wants to be the greatest filmmaker. Everyone wants to be a devout person of film, but not everyone wants to be a devout person of faith.”

One 168 Film Festival participant who instills his faith in his film projects is writer, producer, actor and editor Mike Weck. The Burbank resident has participated in the film project the past four years and enjoys the challenge, he said. “The Journey,” the film he worked on this year, features “Saturday Night Live” alumna Victoria Jackson and her daughter, Aubrey Jackson.

“‘The Journey’ is basically about dysfunctional people in a dysfunctional world trying to go to a place where they can find God and get the next step for direction in their lives,” Weck said.

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