Huzzah! '50 foot robot' wins film competition

Monday, April 7, 2008 | 10:48 p.m. CDT; updated 7:56 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008
Katie McMillen, left, and Eric Mericle, right, watch the films shot for the Brickwall competition at Deja Vu Comedy Club on Monday night. Mericle is member of Kodiak, one of the bands that volunteered a song to be part of the competition.

COLUMBIA — The word Huzzah! was on everyone’s lips Monday night at Déjà Vu Comedy Club.

For a local film competition, team “50 foot Robot” created a music video for Huzzah! ­— the name of a song by local band Witch’s Hat.

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Go to the competition’s Web site to learn more about Brickwall.

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The competition, Brickwall, gives teams 48 hours to create a film based on given criteria. Usually, teams are given a choice between four objects or a theme, such as pill bottles or loss, that must be the focus of a five- to 10-minute film.

But for the competition’s fourth installment, when the six teams arrived at Mojo’s to hear the theme Friday night, co-founders Jay Sparkas and Jim Evans threw them a curve ball.

“We’ve always wanted to do music videos,” Evans said. “It was one of the original ideas for this competition.”

Witch’s Hat and other local bands Bockman, Barn Owl and Kodiak donated their songs to Brickwall for the event. The six teams were treated to performances by the bands and then picked CDs out of a hat to see which song they would tackle.

After teams spent the weekend frantically running around Columbia with cameras and boom mikes, the entries were presented at Déjà Vu on Monday to a crowd of 70 people.

The band members were judges but were not allowed to score videos based on their own music.

“These bands know each other well enough by now that they can tell what represents the other’s music and attitude best,” Evans said.

Huzzah! elicited shrieks of laughter from the crowd while presenting a narrative story, a requirement for the competition.

“It was great and really captured the essence of the song,” said Steve Dornhoff, Witch’s Hat bass and keyboard player. He said the band was going to talk to the team and see if they could use the video for the band’s Web site.

This was 50 foot Robot’s second consecutive win at Brickwall. The team has participated in every installment of the competition, which started in March 2007, and says that they would love to see even more opportunities around Columbia to create films.

“It’s fun, great to participate, and we learn something new about the process every time,” 50 foot’s Jay Groharing said.

This is exactly what Brickwall is all about, according to Sparkas and Evans.

“The purpose of the competition is twofold, to support local film and bring filmmakers together and also to support the Central Missouri Humane Society with the proceeds,” Sparkas announced to the crowd.

Evans said, “Jay and I started this because we had competed in film festivals together and knew what we liked and didn’t like about them. We are trying to expand Columbia’s film community and have met so many great people doing this.”

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