New ‘stay-at-home’ film festival gives locals 24 hours to produce a short movie

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Want to earn the title of “Best Lawrence Film?” Local actor and playwright Will Averill has established a one-time only “24-Hour Stay-At-Home Shorts Film Festival.”

It’s Averill’s first film festival, and he’s hoping it will give community members the opportunity to be creative while stuck at home.

“I thought it would be a lot of fun for families to get together and work on a short film,” he said.

All of the works entered in the festival must be conceived, written and filmed in 24 hours, starting at 5 p.m. Friday. Residents may submit shorts — films no longer than three minutes — or “short shorts” — films no longer than 10 seconds. All of the films must be produced while maintaining social distancing practices.

In order to participate, filmmakers must submit an entry form by 5 p.m. on Friday. You can find the forms on the film festival’s information page.

Averill does not want entry to the film festival to be prohibitive, but he also hopes it can be an opportunity to support the community. He’s suggesting that people who submit films give a $5 donation to Ladybird Diner’s lunch fund, if they can afford it.

Winners won’t receive any prize other than perhaps a certificate, Averill said. Awards will include “Best Lawrence Film,” “Best Family Film,” “Best Comedy,” “Best Drama,” “Best Costumes” and more. There will even be an award for the best film done by a non-Lawrencian, in order to open up the festival to those outside of the city.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Averill had secured local personality Larryville Life and Free State Film Festival founder Marlo Angell as judges.

Averill plans to stream an awards ceremony Sunday night to announce the winners. He hopes to pre-film local personalities introducing the awards, “doing the banter like the stars do.” But don’t worry: “It won’t be as long as the Academy Awards,” he said.

Averill said this is something the community as a whole can participate in, and no prior experience is required.

“This is not for money, this is for something to do,” the film festival’s information page reads. “You don’t have to be good, you just have to have fun.”

For more information about the festival and how to participate, go to All submitted films will be available on Youtube Saturday night by around 8 p.m., Averill said, on a Youtube page that will be created for the festival.


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