2017 Winners

Documentary Backpedal by Brittany Paul, Ryan Cockrell, & Ethan Jackson If you like the show Parks and Recreation, you’ll love this real-life comedy of errors as the “number one city in the world,” Charleston, SC bumbles its way through a traffic jam of ass proportions. Some of the most flavorful characters delight with hilariously quotable quotes, both brilliant and ridiculous. This is the story of how one city continuously tried to ignore the solution to the “biggest problem they have,” traffic. Told through a series of interviews with local officials, and advocates as well as news clips from key events, Backpedal slowly unveils the answer that has been sitting right in front of us. While most of us are sitting in our cars trying to figure out how to make traffic move more quickly, people on bicycles are gliding past us. The only problem: in order to enjoy the spoils of biking, they have to risk their lives. Director’s Statement: Backpedal is the most significant documentary ever made about Charleston, except for Southern Charm. I promise you’ll love it. It’s almost as funny as sitting through a city council meeting.
Personal Website:  backpedalmovie.com

Feature Tinker by Tom Bhramayana Grady Lee Jr. is a recluse farmer, who discovers his late father’s hidden journal that contains the research and plans to an electromagnetic machine with technology derived from the lost research of Nikola Tesla. He believes this discovery could change the world. With the help of his friend Boudreaux, Grady starts working on the device, known as Jack, when his work is interrupted by an unexpected phone call from his step-sisters attorney. Mary Ann dies and leaves him custodian of her special 6-year-old nephew, Kai. This responsibility is unexpected and interferes with his obsession. But, may be exactly what he needs to finish his father’s work. Director’s Statement: I began writing Tinker in 2013 after Clayne Crawford, who was filming Rectify, called me saying “Let’s do a film together”. Clayne wanted to do a film with his son, Colton, who was 7 at the time. He has been a best friend since my days living in LA. My journey as a directed started when we shot a documentary while on a spiritual journey in Peru together. I have been in the entertainment industry for 17 years or 25 if you count the years I acted. I wrote 67 pages before I had the first page of the script. I knew every character’s how, what, why, as well as, the generations that proceeded them which ultimately created their circumstances. The script became an evolving and organic shape-shifting entity that brought me the very definition of “what is love?”. The painful beauty of each moment making Tinker tested and connected us, brought magic and tragedy simultaneously. With Tinker being my first feature film, I was experiencing the power of manifestation which materialized based on the energy of the moment. At the time of development, I was studying the profound anomalous power of frequencies and vibrations, an anomaly that is the essence of creation, life, an emotional state of all living organisms, action, and communication on different levels. I was also reading a work by PMH Atwater, a book “Children of the Fifth World.” She cameoed in Tinker. I love being a father and this book talked about the archetypes of past, present, and future generations. The new children were scientifically proven to have more access to their DNA ultimately coming into this world with a higher vibration than any generation from the past. The theme of my research had lead me to Nicola Tesla. Tesla’s many unknown achievements and conspiracies against him were overwhelming.  By end of 2013, enough money was scraped up to shoot a short or what we consider our first production (Round 1) of Tinker. We knew the quality had to better than a DSLR or a 1080 camcorder would give. We spent most of our funds on a RED 5k and 60’s Kowa Cinema Prominar lenses, so we could achieve a classic creamy cinema look. I had a sound design motif in my head using 528 Hz “the love frequency”. The main character Grady took the most time to develop. Focusing on a slow but growing progression of caring as he becomes the father to his nephew. We shot for 2 weeks. My producer and I went into editing and after sharing what we had, everyone involved insisted that we turn the short into a full feature. We took Tinker to Kickstarter and raised over $100,000 and built a loyal fan base through social media.  Round 2 of production was scheduled for the following Christmas of 2014 due to our actor’s busy schedules, that would be the only time they were available. We added to our cast with supporting roles and completed principal photography. Tinker became a way of life. The story was bigger than the budget so we had to constantly raise funds through post-production.  With ego removed, man can become the best he or she is destined to be. This usually happens in the presence of a child whose innocence and sweetness can be contagious assisting in your personal vibrations to become less distorted and more in harmony. The macro theme of Tinker is about the choices of the human race. A death of the mother who provides us with life and unconditional love, given by the sun rising each morning and setting each night. Love is constant. The discovery of wireless energy broadcasted around the world through Tesla’s invention using frequencies to heal the earth’s soil producing ions, the electricity in the ionosphere, and the frequencies that vibrate all around us could end the depletion of the earth’s natural resources. Abuse to a child is no different than the abuse we inflict on the earth itself. The earth and the elements give us all the resources we need. A world that evolves toward service of a life lived from purpose, a purpose nourished by our mother and fathers no matter what that purpose may be. Tinker is way bigger than its budget with underlying elements a viewer may miss on first viewing. But, the message is there. It represents the meaning of being a father for a new generation. The payoff shows that anyone can change the world as long as they keep tinkering away with what they are given and remember who you are before you lose your innocence and staying on course to the service of mankind through one’s personal passion.  It’s the small things that create big results. 
Personal Website:  www.tinkerthemovie.com

 Short Film Crab Trap by Chip White
Crawling back from the edge of society, Thirsty tries to prove he’s a “changed man” to his sister in order to gain access to his daughter once again.
Personal Website: www.crabtrapfilm.com

Palmetto Prize Catch and Kill by Geoffrey Gunn
A young reporter hungry for a big break gets her chance when an anonymous source contacts her with information about a congressman’s extramarital affair. Director’s Statement CATCH AND KILL is about power, corruption, compromise, and how hard it can be to do the right thing. It’s certainly a collection of heavy themes, and a lot to jam into ten minutes. I only hope I’ve done them some justice within what I like to think of as more of a miniature feature than conventional short film. The idea for the short came from a couple different places. Firstly, as a low-budget, independent filmmaker, I’m always thinking of things I can do with actors I know. I’d worked with Reid Cox before, and had been trying to find a project to on which to collaborate with Simone Griffeth. I was a fan of both actors’ work, and when the idea for CATCH AND KILL struck me, I thought this might a fun chance to work together. What really excited me, however, was the idea of casting both Reid and Simone in roles bigger than just wives-and-girlfriends, as I knew they had a lot more to give on screen, and I thought the interplay between the two as mentee and mentor could result in something special. The second bit of inspiration was plucked more from the headlines. I’d read an article about a purported “catch and kill” scheme, wherein a media outlet pays for exclusivity on a story on behalf of the subject, then buries it for a price, effectively erasing the record. Not only did I find the content of the story fascinating, but it also had this great tabloid journalism phrase, “catch and kill,” which I couldn’t let go of. I promptly filed it away in my head as something to try and spin a story out of, and lo and behold, a few weeks later, I had the script for CATCH AND KILL finished and was sending it out to actors. For me, the resulting film is really about the risks you take when you speak out against a powerful, corrupt, and wide-ranging system. It’s a story about having enough courage of your convictions to stand up to wicked and unscrupulous acts even though it means putting yourself in real danger. I like to think I would stand up valiantly if faced with the same dilemma Bobbi faces at the end of the film, but the truth is, I don’t know what I would do. Hopefully, if I’ve been successful, the film will put the same question to the audience, along with the most important question of all: what happens next? – Geoffrey Gunn
Personal Website:  vimeo.com/geoffreywrites

Animation Rail Road Bill by David Donar A train hobo rules the rails fueled by whiskey. Director’s Statement: I am a visual storyteller. Whether it is a single panel sketch or an animated film my work strives to share a common human trait…to tell a story.  Animation is my preferred medium as the word’s very meaning is “to give life”. I take pleasure in using a traditional medium like a pencil or brush and combining the marks with the latest technology to develop imagery that is vibrant with movement and sound. Satire and irony are the genres I find most effective with my animation. By observing life I discover these ironic twists and turns that offer us lessons and unique story opportunities.
Personal Website:  donarfilms.wordpress.com

Student The Lions of Trondheim by Zachary Johnson Set in Norway, 1940. Someone is betraying the Norwegian resistance to the Nazis, and a young residence fighter must decide who to trust.   
Audience Choice For Love – Short Film by Kevin Murray Matt, who seems to be quite the average fellow, shleps through his workdays at a local convenience store, mostly unnoticed by his customers and colleagues, most especially and unfortunately by his gorgeous co-worker, Maddie, the girl of his dreams. Little does anyone know that Matt is actually quite the remarkable fellow, one who single-handedly saves the world from utter destruction every single night.
Personal Website:  www.thingamajigmedia.com