Every spring, West Chester University Theater plans and carries out a 24-hour theater project. Much like the title states, those involved have to plan, write, construct, design, rehearse, advertise and perform a one-act show in one 24-hour sprint.

A program like this calls for a tremendous amount of teamwork, focus and knowledge of the craft, along with attention to time and deadlines.

A similar, but global project is the Project Twenty1 21-Day Filmmaking Competition, sponsored by the International House of Philadelphia. Again, thanks to the self-explanatory title, the competition involves animators and filmmakers from around the world putting together short films from start to finish in the first 21 days of August.

All established teams that submit films per the requirements are guaranteed screening at the project’s Film Festival, and the films that excel in the competition are rewarded with prizes, commercial DVD releases and online exposure.

Two years ago, Project Twenty1 drew in the interest of West Chester student, Chris Pierdomenico.

An active filmmaker and producer, Pierdomenico possesses a Youtube account full of his creations, which are mostly short films riddled with humor. Pierdomeninco recognized the intensity of the competition and saw the program as a way to break out of the comedic mold that precedes him.

“All I knew going in was that I wanted to do something epic and dramatic,” he said.

Each year, the competition coordinators choose a “secret element,” which must somehow be incorporated into every team’s production. This year, the secret element was “key,” with no specification given regarding the meaning or sense of the word.

Pierdomenico entered with his crew as Team Philagape, after his company, Philagape Productions. Unlike other productions in his past, Pierdomenico possessed a full camera crew and art department.

“My strength is in directing and producing,” he said.

“Because we had an extremely gifted Director of Photography and camera/lighting/sound crew, my involvement with the technical aspect was very minimal, allowing me to be a stronger director.”

The competition guarantees exposure among other film festivals for all entries, but only one team has the chance to be the grand prize-winning group. This year the recipient of the “Best Film” award will win a prize package valued at over $1,000. Included in the package are filming equipment, digital distribution of the film by New World Digital Entertainment (which distributes to sources like iTunes and Amazon.com) and a free voucher to enter the 2010 competition.

Unfortunately, the final submission for Team Philagape’s short film was late by two minutes. Because of this deadline infraction, their entry is only eligible for the Best Marketing and Audience’s Choice awards.

“Project Twenty1 will also still screen the film and promote us and distribute to other film festivals,” says Pierdomenico.

“Everybody working on the team also has an opportunity to get an IMDB credit.”

Despite the fact that his film won’t be judged for the grand prize, Pierdomenico is still enthused and grateful for this experience.

“Directing is exhilarating for me. I love this art form, and just the opportunity to make something and have people go see it is all I need.”

The Project Twenty1 Film Festival will take place Oct. 1-4 at the International House’s Ibrahim Theater in Philadelphia.

During the festival, all of the film submissions will be shown in a theatrical setting for judging. For a behind the scenes look at the planning and production that Team Philagape put into the competition, visit www.youtube.com/ebchrispy.

Tara Tanzos is a second-year student majoring in English. She can be reached at TT649875@wcupa.edu.

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