and another group called "Shorties" though I couldn't say where exactly, both have monthly contests for six months. You forget to file your taxes, or pick the kids up from school, completely involving. They have a technical parameter that is either something useful to learn or an arbitrary element to prevent burning out on the possible, and a theme, like "supernatural" or "hand," etc.
UCLA's film school had a design class where three themes were picked, and the instructor was careful to prevent certain kinds of words from being included, though I don't particularly recall the logic there. I think "Red" and Hate," stuff like that. One film for each word, ten weeks.
UCLA's Animation Workshop had a once-a-year party called "Falling Lizard" where a group of (alum and) students would gather for three days and make something. The faculty had a hand in the structure. Once excerpts from Shakespeare were pulled from a hat, another year, everyone worked from the same 30 second clip of soundtrack, another year, we had to begin and end on the same image BECAUSE they were all edited together at the end, natch.
ANIJAM, I think, of the Animation Expo, and ANIMATION MARATHON from Animation Celebration/Animation Magazine, I haven't participated in.
48 hour film festivals where you have to include an onion and a line from a poem and some such thing -- I met a guy the other day who was VERY into winning this and knowing the scheduled date, arranged/begged-for studio space and all kinds of favors and had twelve extra's, a composer and complete crew...
There are actually more of these 48 Hour film things -- I include the animation ones, because I'm more familiar with them, and this is CGTalk. www.flashfilmworks.com
I think started one of them.
Those of you who want to make a feature in a weekend I admire the most. 200 shots, 100 minutes, you use a script written by some madman like me that is my revenge on "Joan of Arcadia" and which is completely unverifiably TRUE TO EVERYTHING.
It's possible because one camera can shoot a bad Shakespeare performance in about four hours with blocking or two hours real time. IT'S SO WRONG to be allowed to shoot someone else's plays, I did it a bunch of times. "FILMMAKING FOR DUMMIES" (Wiley Books) is by a guy who would get a couple of aspiring actors together and shoot a 60 minute detective show in a fairly crazy time frame. I saw something he shot of a young Howie Mandel that was pretty good.
Of course, you gotta have a master list of "all the tricks" because ou're going to need every one of them.
And it has to be true.