What is this DVMISSION thing?

Try explaining DVMISSION to someone who has never taken part in a 48 Hour Film Challenge and you will struggle to find words that adequately express the experience.

So, for the first blog post for the new website, as we start to organise ourselves for the 2016 challenge here is a bit of background. The video is a little old now and was made in 2009 (we are working on a new version as I type) and the text was originally written for the Portsmouth Creative census. Its a good starting point for those interested in how the challenge came about though and may make an interesting read for experienced challenges as well.

DVMISSION is a not for profit, unincorporated body that runs an annual competition for filmmakers of all ages and experience in Portsmouth and the surrounding area.

The competition is called the DVMISSION 48 Hour Film Challenge and has been running since 2006. It is like a film festival with a difference, in that all the films screened at the gala night are produced in the preceding 48 hours. What happens is that at 5pm on a Friday night, participating teams are given a ‘film title, a film genre and line of dialogue’; these DVMISSION calls the ‘obstructions’. The teams then have just 48 hours to return on the following Sunday at 4pm, with a finished two-minute film. Later that same evening all the teams arrive in their best suits & frocks for the exciting culmination to the weekend: the awarding of the coveted ‘Pompey Oscars’!

The DVMISSION 48 Hour Film Challenge originally emerged as part the first Portsmouth Screen film festival in 2005 and then split off from the festival to form as a separate organisation in 2006. The film festival came about in 2005 as, at the time, there were no cultural events for cinema, video and film in the city. The DVMISSION founders, Jinx Prowse and Roy Hanney, wanted to run the kind of event that they, as filmmakers, would want to take part in. Inspired by filmmaking events being run in other cities they came up with a plan to run Portsmouth’s first 48-hour filmmaking challenge.

The idea for a 48-hour film challenge originally came from DIY filmmaker, Johnnie Oddball. Frustrated with the difficulty of making short films, in he dreamed up the idea of a 48-hour challenge offering: “If you can turn up on Friday to pick a title and a theme out of a film can, and use them to make a film within 48 hours, you can return two weeks later to watch your film on the big screen“. In 2003 he then went on to create one of the biggest filmmaking events in British history with a national 48-hour film challenge in which over 1 0,000 people participated, producing 488 short films. In 2004 he organised another four filmmaking events around Europe and the first 24-hour film challenge at Cannes in 2005.

In 2005, 12 teams competed in the first DVMISSION 48 Hour Film Challenge screening their films at the now defunct Third Floor Arts Centre for the first two years. In 2008 it moved to the New Theatre Royal where it ran annually until plans to refurbish the theatre meant the challenge had to look for a new home in 2011. Becoming nomadic the challenge ran first on the Southsea Pier and then settled into a run at the Pyramids. In 2015 the TENTH ANNIVERSARY edition ran at the Wedgewood Rooms.

It has been called ‘rock-n-roll filmmaking’, it’s known as the ‘Sex Pistols meets the Oscars’ and it has become an important feature in the annual calendar for those involved with the audio visual sector of the creative industries in the area. Every year since 2007 over 250 individuals, combined into around 25 teams, take part producing up to 25 short films, which have all been archived on the DVMISSION YouTube channel. The gala night screening, at which the coveted ‘Pompey Oscars’ are awarded to the best films, is a unique event and one at which you will find the majority of the city’s audio-visual creatives in attendance.

In the first few years of DVMISSION, from 2006 to 2009 Screen South/UK Film Council and Film Hampshire funded the event. With Southampton Solent University also contributing towards funding in 2009. However, since the demise of the UK Film Council, the only current funding comes from Film Hampshire and DVMISSION relies on ticket sales to cover its costs. The change in the funding landscape has impacted severely on the ability to run this unique event and the organisers have in recent years resorted to passing a bucket around at the gala night in order to try and balance the books. In order to improve this situation the DVMISSION team are currently considering a number of ways of making the event sustainable in the long term, including options such as sponsorship and crowd funding.

The history of DVMISSION aligns with the growth of the creative industries in Portsmouth and offers a unique insight into the development of this sector since 2006. In it’s first year the teams taking part in the challenge were largely enthusiastic amateurs with a scattering of professionals. While the competition is still open to all comers, the number of young, entry-level professionals participating in the event has increased. Their access to more advanced equipment and technology has also changed and it is not uncommon for films to feature the use of cranes and drone technology. Consequently the quality of films has improved year on year as the teams take inspiration from each other.

A number of participants have taken part every year since the very beginning and there is a considerable loyalty among the DVMISSION crowd. There are instances of participants joining a team at sixteen and their on going participation in DVMISSION tracks their career development from college, through to university and onto professional life as a filmmaker or videographer. More and more graduates are choosing to stay or retain contacts in the area after they finish their studies and DVMISSION is one of the ways that they maintain and grow their contacts as they move into professional work. There are other examples of new entrants in the industry making contact with working professionals and finding opportunities for freelance employment through the DVMISSION network. All of which suggests that DVMISSION has contributed significantly to the development of a cultural identity in the area for those working in the audio-visual sector of the creative industries.

The DVMISSION team see the event as one that puts Portsmouth as a city of creativity and culture on the map and we want to ensure that the gala night continues to be the most important annual event for filmmakers in the region.