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The Almost Famous Film Festival Returns to Downtown Phoenix With 72-Hour Challenge

by Taylor Bishop
Arts & Culture Bars & Nightlife Featured Food, Restaurants & Dining Music & Events Taylor Bishop January 29, 2020

What could you create in 72 hours? Find out at the Almost Famous Film Festival (A3F) – where more than 50 teams of up-and-coming filmmakers will converge in Downtown Phoenix to write, cast, shoot and edit a film in just three days.

Now in its fifteenth year, the A3F has grown to become one of the largest film competitions of its kind in the Southwest.

A3F’s founder, Jae Staats, got started with video while working for the Phoenix Suns and often collaborated with his brother, Kai, on short films. They entered a local film challenge in 2004, and got ideas on how they could create their own unique competition.

“I literally looked at my brother and said, ‘We should start our own film festival,’” Jae said. “Four or five months later we were at The Icehouse in the Phoenix Warehouse District staging the first Almost Famous Film Festival. It was very organic.”

Twenty-eight teams entered the first A3F challenge back in 2005. The growing popularity of A3F events allowed them to host a variety of challenge-based festivals each year.

“I like the A3F challenges because they are always varied,” said A3F participant Bonnie Selim, Director of Toast Productions. “The guidelines are always interesting and encourage the filmmakers to do something different.”

The A3F returns to Downtown Phoenix after a three-year hiatus, bringing first-time filmmakers and seasoned pros from around the country.

“We’ve had teams who picked up a camera for the first time to filmmakers who are on the steps of Hollywood,” Jason Francois, A3F Assistant Director said. “It’s just a tremendous learning experience and so much fun for everyone involved.”

The storylines and styles run the gamut, but each short film must include a predetermined theme, line of dialogue and prop, which will be revealed at The Larry on Friday, Feb. 14. Competitors will then have 72 hours to film, edit and turn in a one-to five-minute movie by the 7 p.m. deadline on Monday, Feb. 17.

A3F judges will watch and score the films to select the top 20 that will screen before a live audience at AMC Arizona Center 24 on Feb. 27.

You can register a team or buy tickets to the public screening at thea3f.net/72hour.