Tiger blanket for the win

Welcome to the 15 Minutes Max wrap-up post!

This season exploded with more submissions than ever with entries rolling in until the May deadline. In prior years, the contest was open only to college students. Recognizing the talent bursting from younger filmmakers, 2016 marked the second time high school students were invited to join in the fun. Though none of them made it to the final round, the judges were impressed and are excited to watch as the teens grow and continue to mature in their story-telling.2016programs

“Each year, we see an increased number of submissions that are technically and conceptually compelling,” said Liz Richards, festival organizer. “This year is no exception. I’m proud of the work we included.”

Judges graded each film over the summer, about 40, while adhering to a detailed rubric. Every facet of filmmaking was categorized and allotted a specific number of points. Unable to narrow the pack down to an even 10, the judges squeezed in an extra film, rounding out the films to a stellar 11. Our finalists hail from Skidmore College, Hudson Valley Community College, SUNY Adirondack and the College of Saint Rose.

In August, the 15 Minutes Max organizing board met in a screening room on Saint Rose’s campus. After watching all 11 films, they determined first, second and third places. The Audience Choice Award was the crowd’s responsibility. Cash prizes were allotted for each win.

On the evening of October 8, the screening room in Madison Theater filled nearly to capacity. Local film critic Jackson Murphy hosted the event. Following the hour-long screening, he called the entire panel of finalists on stage and invited the audience to ask questions regarding their techniques and inspirations.

“The event was even more entertaining due to our emcee, Lights Camera Jackson,” said Richards. “Audience members had to chance to mingle with filmmakers and jurists. We have tried to add a new element each year and I’m excited to see how we grow!”

First place was presented to Ejaniia Clayton and her poignant documentary, “Reach.”


Image from Clayton’s film “Reach”/provided by Youth FX

“I feel extremely grateful to have won the festival! I felt and still feel very lucky,” said Clayton. “Winning kind of re-assured me that my work was good, as least good enough to be recognized, and has really influenced me to continue making films.”

Her prize money went straight into a savings account and Clayton is practical about what she’ll spend it on.

“Probably on a summer class, or a college text book, they are so expensive!” she said. “Or groceries, or my phone bill. Not very exciting things, but the prize money really helps.”

Clayton plans to keep exploring socially conscious themes in her filmmaking. Her current project focuses on the emotional stress and pressure of young black women. Clayton said she’s definitely submitting to the festival again next year.

Skidmore students took second and third places. Lisa Fierstein was appointed runner-up with “Presence Project” and “Reina” filmmaker, Claire Johnson, captured third.

Audience Choice Award went to Ian Griffen’s horror, “Noises.” His film garnered further praise when the festival committee dubbed the film’s prominent tiger blanket as Best Prop.

Filmmakers, judges, audience members and party animals gathered at Jack’s Place on the Saint Rose campus after the prizes were handed out. Refreshments were served along with cookies, brownies, cheese and crackers. There was also the obligatory veggie platter, which remained full. The ranch dressing mysteriously disappeared, though.

Thanks to everyone who made our 2016 festival a success. Our audience was awesome and we hope to see even more of you next year. We’re proud of all the filmmakers and can’t wait to see the art produced for 2017!

Signing off to get cozy in the tiger blanket,


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