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There’s No Scarcity of Scary Moments in CATV’s Annual Halloween-a-Thon

Take a strong dose of Chiller Theater and throw in a cup of Creature Fea ture and you have the annual CATV Halloween-a-thon, a blitz of short film-making that attracted 21 teams of filmmakers salivating at the prospect of writing and directing a short scary movie.

All of this year’s films began with the premise of two people walking in the woods who lose their way, said Bob Franzoni, executive director of CATV, which has its studio in the Tip Top Building in White River Junction. In the filmic equivalent of “Once upon a time,” one walker tells the other that he remembers a ghost story told by his grandfather. As long as the filmmakers started from that premise, what happened after that was up to them. “We gave them a narrative and they had to adjust to the narrative,” Franzoni said.

Awards were given out this week in a screening at the Wilder Center. There were seven teams competing in the junior high category, 10 in the high school category and four in the adult. The cash prizes were $200 for first place, $150 for second, and $100 for third. Awards were also given for best screenplay and best actor and actress, a la the Oscars, Franzoni said.

The great thing about the Halloween-a-thon, Franzoni said, was that many of the participants had cut their teeth on digital video in CATV’s tech center or in CATV’s summer video camp, which will be in its ninth year in 2014. The Halloween-a-thon has been so successful in attracting aspiring filmmakers that two other Vermont public access stations are starting their own versions, Franzoni said.

Kali Covell was part of the high school team that took first place for the five-minute film Itch . Now a senior at Hartford High School who enrolled in the video camp three years ago, she plans to major in media arts in college. Unable to attend the screening because she was playing a semifinal field hockey game the same evening, Covell didn’t learn about the prize until, she said, “everyone told me.”

You can see the winning entries on the CATV website, under Videos on Demand.

The first place winners are: Middle School Division: production team Franken Sneakers, The Well in the Woods ; High School Division: production team Caramel Hippo Studios, Itch ; Adult Division production team Shepherd and Engle, A Disappearance . For a complete list of the winners, and for information on summer video camp, go to catv8.org or call 802-295-6688.

Nicola Smith can be reached at nsmith@vnews.com.