Shown on location with an unidentified interview subject are director Dalila Droege (second from left) and cameraman Nicholas Bacon (far right).
A team of four students in a documentary film competition held at the 60th Annual Cannes Film Festival in May walked away with top honors using little more than a Panasonic PV-GS250 MiniDV camcorder and audio equipment including a Shure VP88 stereo microphone and FP24 field mixer.
Sponsored by Adobe Systems and Intel, the contest was part of the American Pavilion Student Filmmaker Program and Competition held on-site at Cannes. Forty students from more than 30 film schools in North America, the UK, Asia and South America were divided into 10 collaborative teams and paired with mentors, and then let loose to create documentaries based upon their experiences at the festival.
"We basically spent the first couple days overwhelmed by the whole thing," says Jake Durrett, who handled sound for the winning team. "Ideas were readily coming, but everything kept falling apart. Finally, on the third and fourth days, we nailed down exactly what we wanted to do and began moving forward."
Durrett, a student from Western Michigan University, collaborated with cameraman Nicholas Bacon of the University of Virginia, director Dalila Droege of Chicago's Columbia College, and producer Vivienne Lin of the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Ill. Running just under four minutes, the team's winning entry juxtaposed the experiences of the numerous street performers that flock to the festival each year with those of the stars in attendance.
"The film relied upon visual comparisons to show the parallels and contrasts between the two groups of artists," Durrett explains. "There wasn't a lot of dialog, but the soundtrack was rich and animated with live audio, plus music. The VP88 is an awesome mic. Everything in the film sounds just the way we heard it on location. Without the FP24, I wouldn't have had a way to monitor what I was capturing. It's a compact, two-channel stereo unit I can easily carry in a shoulder bag, yet it's still capable of bringing studio-like quality into the field."
The team's winning documentary was screened at Cannes within the American Pavilion. Taking home some of Adobe's latest software for filmmakers as part of their prize, Durrett and company also received an invitation to PAH-Fest 2007 in Grants, N.M. in early June, where they competed in a second documentary-making contest.