Christian filmmakers from around the world are being challenged to create a movie masterpiece in seven days about "Second Chances."
The 168 Hour Film Project announced that this year's annual "speed filming" contest will award a cash prize of $10,000 or $20,000, depending on the donations they receive, and other prizes to the producer of the best film for artistic and technical merit.
For the past eight years the worldwide competition has been challenging filmmakers to produce films around foundational Bible verses and under the same theme. This year's theme is "Second Chances."
Since the competition began in 2003, organizers have attached Bible verses to rocks, which are randomly distributed to each participating team. The Bible verse each team receives is designed to serve as the main focus of their 11-minute film production.
Organizers of the project hope they can change the fabric of the media and improve its message for future generations.
"We do this by equipping new filmmakers professionally and spiritually," said John D. Ware, founder and president of 168 Hour Film Project, in a statement. "By shaping the storytellers, we are changing Hollywood, which is arguably the greatest human influence on the world."
The probable jurors for the 2011 finalists include producer Ralph Winter ("X-MEN: Wolverine"); writer/producer Brian Bird ("Touched by an Angel"); Gary Hall, Sr. VP of 20th Century Fox TV Post Production; writer/producer Luke Schelhaas ("Law and Order," "Off the Map"); 2nd unit director Greg Michael ("G.I. Joe," "The Mummy Returns"); writer Leilani Downer ("The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"); and writer Bill Marsilii ("Déjà vu" with Denzel Washington).
After the films have been submitted, they go through two rounds of judging where choices are narrowed down from 80-100 films to 20 films. The all-star Christian jury then makes the final selection for the awards.
The 168 Hour Film Project is currently accepting registrants for the 2011 film festival. Participating teams will have only one specified week to create their short film. The start dates for filming for both national and international teams are scheduled for Feb. 18 and Feb. 17, respectively, at 11 a.m.
No one from the competition truly knows if participants start at exactly 11 a.m. It's all done through the honor system, according to Paul E. Luebbers, the executive director.
"We do an honor system. Most of them are professed Christians. We may not know but God knows," he said.
According to Ware, the film project has positively impacted people's lives. One person decided to abandon plans to commit suicide after watching "The Butterfly Circus" by 168 alumni Joshua and Rebekah Weigel.
Luebbers noted that some of the winners have gone on to bigger projects. Robert Kirbyson participated in past competitions and he recently directed his first debut film, "Snowman."
"168 gave them the confidence and the networking and connections they needed," Luebbers told The Christian Post.
The 168 Hour Film Project shows a promising future for Christian filmmakers, judging from films submitted over the years. According to Luebbers, "the biggest difference visually is the production quality."
"When you watch films from 2003 or 2004 they look like cute little videos that people make. Now [when] you watch these films … a large portion of them look like featured films that you see on TV, on cable or in the theaters."
"The production value has really skyrocketed," he highlighted. "The bar keeps getting higher every year."
The films will be screened April 1-2, 2011, at Alex Theater in Glendale, Calif. The awards are given on the second day.