Short film featuring Real Change wins SIFF People’s Choice Award
Three minutes. That’s the length of Todd Gardiner’s first film. But the short film, which revolves around a character’s interaction with a Real Change vendor, may have a lengthy run, now that it’s won the People’s Choice Award at the Seattle International Film Festival (siff).
Gardiner’s film, “Split-Minute,” explores the loneliness of man named Chris (actor Chris Allen), whose sense of time differs from those around him: What most people experience as one second, Chris experiences as one minute. Wandering through Seattle, he encounters a Real Change vendor (played by Erin Plischke), who, seemingly frozen in time, holds a copy of the paper that Chris buys.
Gardiner, 47, said that he only purchases Real Change four or five times a year, but is aware the paper acts as a tool of communication, informing readers about homelessness and poverty.
“There’s loneliness about homelessness,” he said, “and it echoed the character’s loneliness.”
But loneliness is a condition many people experience, Gardiner said, and as Chris traverses the city, he encounters Time Ghost Girl (Cheryl Platz). She’s a now-you-see-her,
now-you-don’t entity who guides Chris to engage with those around him. His first attempt at contact: the Real Change vendor.
The story of a man who experiences time on a different level is one that Gardiner said has been in his head for years. He wondered if it would work as a novel or a play or a comic book, though the last option proved impossible since he couldn’t draw.
He settled on a short film partly due to his own experience of time: With a day job testing software and evenings and weekends devoted to freelance photography, a three-minute piece suited his needs. A one-day shoot occurred in April, including a scene filmed on the sidewalk in front of Whole Foods on Denny Way and Westlake Ave. North.
Gardiner said a Real Change vendor who claimed the spot as his selling turf wondered why he wasn’t used in the film. His response: He didn’t want the vendor to have to travel around the city for the day-long shoot.
Once filming was complete, he spent a week editing on Adobe Premier (he made use of the program’s one-month free trial). Gardiner submitted the film to The Seattle Times and siff’s Three Minute Masterpiece digital-film contest. Then he waited.
Roughly 150 films had been entered; only 11 would be chosen.
On May 17 “Split-Minute” was announced in the Times as the eleventh winner. The paper’s website visitors voted for their favorite short, and on May 19, Gardiner’s film won the People’s Choice Award at siff.
Producing an award-winning film on his first outing has imbued Gardiner with a sense of confidence, since he knew there would be competition. And he said he plans to re-edit “Split-Minute” into a somewhat longer film. He’s also working on a horror short film, he said.
He said that winning the award has also taught him that anyone can make a movie.
“If people have stories they want to tell,” Gardiner said, “get a couple friends, film it and put it on YouTube.”
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