The leaves are fast turning orange and gold, and independent cinephiles are dusting off their cameras, stocking up on caffeinated beverages and making plans for the biannual rite of guerrilla-style short film making that is Wis-Kino's fall 48-Hour Kabaret.
Founded in 2002, Wis-Kino is the local chapter of the International Kino Movement. Its members have been throwing monthly screenings and 48-hour Kabarets ever since, pulling in everyone from students to veteran filmmakers, from around the country as well as Canada, France and Australia. A Wis-Kino program was featured in the 2006 Wisconsin Film Festival, and Kinoites were instrumental in putting together the Madison 150 collection of short films for the city's sesquicentennial.
The Kino movement started in 1998 in Montreal, when a group of filmmakers, most of them working in the advertising industry, decided they wanted an outlet for more creative work. They challenged each other to make one short film a month until 2000. By the end of that year, they were so enamored of the process that they just kept at it.
Over 50 chapters on five continents have since formed. Wis-Kino, based in Madison, was the first group to spring up stateside.
This is Wis-Kino's fifth anniversary, a respectable achievement for a ragtag bunch of filmmakers and fans.
My first experience with Wis-Kino was at their fall Kabaret in 2004. Between the selection of locally made movies and the heavy international participation, I was hooked. People were friendly, it was relatively easy to get involved even as a novice, and, in an era when video is consumed more and more online, it was especially gratifying to see your movie on the silver screen.
A Kabaret is a rush of hard work, crazy antics and great fun. And anyone can help make a film, regardless of skill or experience. You don't even have to own a camera or editing equipment to participate. If you're interested in acting, holding a boom mike, scouting locations, recording music or any number of other jobs, join in. You can also visit the Wis-Kino forums to make connections before the screening. Here's a preview:
All you have to do is show up at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11, at Escape Java Joint and make it known that you're interested in helping out. If you intend to make a film, you're required to sign up at the Thursday night screening. (This doesn't obligate you to actually finish a film.) Then, using a "secret ingredient" revealed at the end of the night, everyone has until 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, to write, shoot and edit their films. All submissions that make it in by that time will then be screened at Marcus Westgate Art Cinemas.
Past ingredients, which must be incorporated into the films in some way, have included "Red Handed," "Twist," "Light," and "Complicated." The results have ranged from action-adventure romps, a day in the life of a smoking, drinking, grab-assing crimson claw, and beautifully illustrated music videos. Your choice of genre is unlimited, so long as the end result is five minutes or less in length.
I can't recomment the Kabaret highly enough. But don't just take my word for it; come to help out or just to watch. Embrace the DIY spirit within, subvert the mainstream movie industry and make your own entertainment.