Film and TV

Can Denton's Essence be Conveyed in Sixty Seconds of Film? The Denton Convention & Visitor's Bureau Wants to Know.

The most recent census data puts the population of Denton at 113,383. It's the home to two universities, multiple music festivals, a documentary film festival, and a thriving city square. Dallas is just an hour away by I-35, but what of it, Denton seems to day. It can't compete size-wise, and so much the better. For all its diversity, the city boasts a hard-to-define atmosphere of charm and cohesion. What is that feeling, exactly? And more to the point, what does it look like or sound like?

Those are the questions the Denton Convention & Visitor's Bureau is asking residents and visitors to answer with the second annual I Am Denton documentary contest.

The idea for contest came from an idea that started in the mid-2000s, with the DCVB asking people to submit their digital photos of the city.

"We wanted to encourage people to get out and about and show Denton through their own perception," says Kim Phillips, vice president of DCVB.

The idea was to take a "quilted approach" to gathering images that could be used to market the city to prospective visitors. But as the DCVB moved their emphasis away from printed advertising to social media, where video thrives, the decision was made to alter their approach.

For the contest's first year, it was only open to Denton high school students. This year it's open to the general public, too.

Filmmakers submitting to the contest are expected to keep their films short--as in, no longer than a minute. Each one should capture some aspect of what makes Denton what it is. In most cases that means focusing on a specific person.

"We want to use Denton characters to tell Denton stories," Phillips says.

Films don't have to focus on a person, though.

"We leave it wide open for each person's interpretation," Phillips adds, noting that a film could be about almost anything, like a pet or an historic building.

Each film will pass through different rounds of judging. A group of professionals will judge the films on their artistic merits, another group will judge them on how well they speak to the ambiance and character of Denton, and last but not least, the people themselves will have a chance to vote on a dedicated Facebook page.

When all the voting is complete, the top 10 films from both the student and the general public categories will get the royal treatment with a screening at the Campus Theatre, on the square. A film doesn't have to excel in all three areas to earn this distinction, it just has to connect.

"Ultimately," Phillips says, "that's the test of a video: Is anyone going to watch it?"

The submission period for films runs from March 29 through April 12, with the award ceremony set for May 7. Films selected for the ceremony will also get a special screening at the 2014 Thin Line Film Festival.

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Andrew Welch
Contact: Andrew Welch