A contest inspired by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and designed to provide experience for fledgling filmmakers could become an annual event.
"It's new and something we have never done before, but I'd like to do it every year," John Daugherty, director and film commissioner of the Greater Columbus Film Commission, said of the "Stuck at Home" short-film contest.
The winners are Zuri Clarno, who lives in east Columbus near Whitehall, and Shaun Brown, a Reynoldsburg resident.
Each received a $500 cash prize from the film commissioner's budget, Daugherty said.
Clarno, 16, a student at Metro Early College High School in Columbus, won the "short" category that included movies 60 seconds to 3 minutes in length.
Brown, 56, won the "shorter shorts" category for films less than 60 seconds.
The only requirement, to ensure an even playing field, was for filmmakers to use a smartphone in creating the film, Daugherty said.
Contestants had 10 days to produce their films.
Clarno's film, "Quarantine Treasure" carries a message.
"It is a crazy and uncertain time, but now is the time to stick together," Clarno said. "It's not just one of us – all of us are going through it."
Clarno said she used an iPhone XS Max and the stop-motion technique to create her film.
"I learned about it in one of my classes but also did a little of my own research," she said.
Clarno said it took about 12 hours of work to yield the 3 minutes of video.
In stop action, objects are moved in small increments and photographed each time. As the photographs are shown in rapid succession, the subjects appear to move.
Clarno said she used a Lego set to tell the transitional story of Aubrey, a young girl who at first is depressed and woeful that the pandemic has upended her insular world.
But Aubrey learns about other activities, including those that help other people, and that is the message Clarno wants viewers to learn, she said.
Clarno said she was excited to learn she had won.
"I saw the email and it was, 'OMG.' I went upstairs and told my dad, and then we told my mom," she said. "It was exciting. ... I put a lot of work into it, and I couldn't believe I won."
Brown, who has experience in live-stage performances and filmmaking, took a humorous approach for his video: What are we really doing on those conference calls?
Brown, who works for SAP, a multinational software company, already had experience working from home but was inspired by those who are new to the schedule.
"I heard a lot of stories," he said. "These aren't things I personally experienced but are funny.
Brown used a Samsung Galaxy S10 to create "Working From Home – The Real Story."
Brown said he has a master's degree in human resources and a computer-engineering background. He is a member of Actors' Theatre of Columbus, which performs at Schiller Park in German Village.
He said he is working with about 20 other people as a writer and producer of a 30-minute film they hope to screen at future private film festivals.
Brown and Clarno were among 23 people from Franklin County and contiguous counties who entered the “Stuck at Home” contest.
The contest was a next step in growing the art of filmmaking in central Ohio, said Daugherty, who has been the film commissioner of the Greater Columbus Film Commission since 2015.
The commission was founded in 2006 and tasked with promoting the region and soliciting filmmakers to produce works in central Ohio, he said.
Ohio has five film commissions, and all are subject to state budgets, Daugherty said.
The state has the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit, which is part of Ohio's biennial budget and sets aside $40 million, he said.
The film commissions "don't see the money directly" because qualifying production companies apply for the tax credit, but the film commissions work to promote Ohio and attract the producers, Daugherty said.
Thirty-two states offer such tax credits, and Georgia is among the leaders in enticing movie makers out of Hollywood, he said.
As film commissioner, Daugherty said, he wants to expand the mission of the Greater Columbus Film Commission.
Although it is good to have big studios visit, they usually bring most of their own employees who stay for a few weeks and leave, Daugherty said.
"That doesn't really grow the art," he said. "I want to help make a pathway for kids at (Columbus College of Art and Design) or Kenyon (College) who like making films, and to slow down some of the brain drain to California. ... I know some will go anyway, but maybe a few stay here, too."
The winning films by Brown and Clarno may be viewed at vimeo.com/showcase/7038382.
To learn more about the Greater Columbus Film Commission, go to filmcolumbus.com.