OC on the Big Screen: Art League Presents Film Challenge

By Logan Dubel 

The cameras are rolling, and the lights are bright in Ocean City as filmmakers take on the 4th Annual Ocean City Film Challenge. Calling on filmmakers from the Delmarva Peninsula and the surrounding region, the summer contest encourages local creativity and originality. For lovers of Ocean City and its unique community, this is the perfect opportunity to combine a passion for film and production with a chance to experience the resort intimately unlike anything before. 

So, how does the challenge work? For those looking to participate, act fast. Filmmakers must register for the contest before July 9 by filling out a Google Form. However, have no fear, there is indeed more time to craft your storyline, get out your camera and tripod, and make nonstop edits. Final cuts are due on July 31 either online through Oceancityfilmfest@gmail.com or via flash drive at the Art League of Ocean City on 94th Street. 

There is no shortage of stories or activity in the town, in the midst of the summer explosion that brings a total of more than eight million tourists. “Ocean City is a beautiful landscape, and there’s so much that artists can take advantage of right here in town,” said Film Festival Director B.L. Strang-Moya. “There are many ways to tell a story through motion picture, and the challenge pushes filmmakers to explore these boundaries.”

The OC Film Challenge is home to the most Ocean City-specific content available anywhere, requiring all short movies to be about or shot in the town. Do not spend too much time along our ten miles of beaches though, unless filming of course, because time is of the essence. All shorts must be filmed throughout July, though the contest permits some archival footage and photographs, which may come in handy due to any remaining Covid-19 limitations. Other regulations include avoiding using copyrighted material, making content preferably appropriate for people of all ages, and keeping the shorts under ten minutes. 

Filmmakers should certainly take creative risks because there are major rewards. The top three films will take home all-access passes for the 2022 Ocean City Film Festival. The top winner will receive a hotel stay, as well as a cash prize of $150. The second-place film will earn a reward of $100 and a swag bag, while the third-place winner will receive $50. Still, everyone is a winner, as all other films will qualify for day passes to the festival. 

Strang-Moya, a filmmaker himself, encourages participants to go big or go home. “The only guidance I have is to simply do it. It is kind of a big deal that this contest ensures you a spot in the OCFF annual program, AND it’s totally free to enter,” he said. “This is not pay-to-play like other similar events such as 36, 48, and or 72-hour film festival events. The OCFC gives you one whole month to make a short film. That shouldn’t be taken for granted – especially for new and emerging filmmakers.”

In addition, the OC Film Challenge, a program of the Art League of Ocean City, provides what every aspiring filmmaker and producer seeks – a platform. The shorts will earn a slot at a screening during the ArtX festival on August 21 in Northside Park, which draws massive crowds. Plus, the films will gain exposure again in March at the 2022 festival.   

The contest, which still garnered significant success in 2020 during the height of the pandemic, proves that creativity is possible no matter the circumstances. 

Since launching in 2017, the Ocean City Film Challenge has grown tremendously, thanks to the creative vision of B.L. Strang-Moya, a young filmmaker who just a few years ago set out on a journey of building a community and reputable platform for creators like him. Now, with international recognition and a growing, robust program, he hopes to continue the success this summer. 

“Each year new filmmakers entering the challenge, and it becomes surprisingly more competitive even as technology evolves, and the local filmmakers have access to better equipment. Like anything else, the challenge grows over time. Last year we had the challenge of executing the event within the limitations of COVID-19 regulations,” Strang-Moya explained. “Regardless of the pandemic, last year was easily our most competitive film challenge to date. There was a broad range of narratives and visual styles brought to the contest. This year the stakes are incredibly high for contestants. The pandemic limits are few, and the bar is pretty damn high after last year’s entries.”

If interested, be sure to register for the challenge and think outside of the box when filming the best sights and sounds of Ocean City. 

For questions or concerns, call 410-524-9433 or email oceancityfilmfest@gmail.com.