Sumter film is finalist in international competition


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A group of Sumter filmmakers had only 24 hours to produce a short film for the 24-Hour Film Race 2020 in early June, and the production was selected as one of the finalists in the international competition.

The 24-Hour Film Race is an annual competition produced by Film Racing LLC. This year's competition theme was "unexpected change," and filmmakers had to produce a film based on that theme in just 24 hours.

The group, Shoeboy Productions, created the Sumter-based entry, "What Used to Happen," which was filmed at Sumter Little Theatre, for the competition. It tells the story of a ragtag theater troupe who struggle to find ways to reopen amid a pandemic.

"When the theme of unexpected change, which was presented to us that night, came out, I thought everybody was dealing with that in a certain situation," said Braden Bunch, the film's writer, director and editor.

As he quickly had to come up with a storyline, Bunch realized the arts community has taken a toll from the coronavirus just like everyone else in the world and immediately got to writing.

"You only got 24 hours to work on the film," Bunch said. "The only thing we could really do before starting the film and start writing it is line up things."

Bunch prepped in advance and gathered a team of actors, writers and filmmakers before the 24-hour clock began.

As a professional actor and writer, Bunch was the only member of the team who had any experience with the format going into the competition, he said, but even with the lack of experience, the film and the team members are now eligible for both overall and individual awards after the film was named one of the top 15 entries.

The cast consisted of several actors known to Sumter Little Theatre audiences, including Kendall Jones, Logan Martin, Lexi Melton, Alyssa Gibbs and Sylvia Pickell. Charleston-based actor Bert Ross, who has worked with Bunch on several film sets throughout the Southeast, rounds out the cast and served as the film's assistant director as well.

"I knew we had a talented team, but to be recognized as one of the top productions, when we knew we were competing against crews from New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and London, that's somewhat mind-blowing," Bunch said.

As part of its recognition, the film has been slated to make its premiere at the 6th Annual Cobb International Film Festival on July 30-Aug. 2, where it will be seen alongside the other finalists from throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.