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Fathom Film Festival winners announced

Pictured is the technique Spencer Olson uses to film his shorts with a Canon t2i camera set up on a tripod next to his desk, aimed at a miniature Lego set. He takes thousands of pictures of the finite movements between each frame to make the illusion of movement at high speed. SUBMITTED PHOTO

BEMIDJI - The winners of this year's Fathom Film Festival sponsored by Saarens Productions were recently announced by executive director Steve Saari.

The audience and judges voted for the best in two categories April 20 at the Wild Rose Theater.

The Audience Choice Award was won by Spencer Olson for "Bunnies" and the Critics Choice Award went to Harlan Hegna for his short, "Inside Looking Out." Both winners received $100 prizes for their work.

Spencer Olson, a 17-year old high school student, has a film company, "Spencer Olson Films," and his Youtube channel (Olsonstudios) has had 2.7 million hits, according to a news release.

"Most kids my age don't know what to think of my hobby when I try to explain it to them," Spencer said. "I suppose it seems kind of nerdy or weird that I use the children's toy Lego to make animated films. However, when I show them one of my films they usually find it to be fascinating."

His short "Bunnies" used Lego pieces to portray scenery and characters. Olson started making film shorts started about seven years ago, and, although he said doesn't find Lego toys as much fun as they used to be, they are a good vehicle for making films.

Olson has set up to help support his hobby-turned-vocation because he "hope(s) to continue on doing what I love."

The Critic's Choice Award went to Harlan Hegna for his short, "Inside Looking Out," which won the Grand Jury Prize and Best Screenplay at the 2011 Nevada Film Festival. The critique of his film included comments on the professionalism of the filming, lighting and actors in this story of a young doctor who contemplates an adoption set in motion by him and his wife before her violent death at the hands of gang members.

At individual film nights usually held on alternate First Friday activities at the Wild Rose Theater, filmmakers submit their work for review and critiques by audience members. The films are then presented again at the Fathom Film Festival in the spring and Audience and Critic's Choice Awards are announced after the tabulations of results by Saarens Productions.