Environment Minnesota announces short-film contest winners -- includes some of the best filmmakers in the business

For Immediate Release

Minneapolis – Today Environment Minnesota announced the winners of the “Putting the Sun to Work for Minnesota” short-film contest. Over twenty filmmakers submitted films and more than 15,000 people have watched the films already. Suspense-thriller, cartoon humor and tales of traveling into the future secured the winning prizes this year.

Environment Minnesota Director Ken Bradley said “we are extremely pleased by the number of filmmakers that participated. Filmmakers created unique stories that help promote 10% solar energy by 2030. Their creative efforts and the quality of the films produced were exceptional and really impressed our judges.”

Winners were announced at Environment Minnesota’s monthly breakfast forum Green Ideas & Ham this morning in front of an audience topping 100 people. Twin Cities journalist & former WCCO anchor Don Shelby helped present the awards to the winners.

Recent Lakeville South High School graduate and independent filmmaker Sean Drummond used his summer before starting college to make the film “2035”. Sean tells the tale of a young man who travels through time to the year 2035. He meets an older man who urges him to put a breathing mask on because the air is so polluted. Unable to recognize his home state of Minnesota, the young man questions the older man about how and when the air became so polluted. He learns that virtually all the energy is still generated from polluting sources. He decides he has to travel back to present day and work to change the future. The judges were so impressed with this young filmmaker’s production quality and storytelling they awarded him with third place and check for $250. Sean said, “I am paying for college on my own and I'm always looking for ways to help support myself financially. The prize money will really help me out and I really enjoyed making the film.” Sean is now attending Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

Another independent filmmaker named John Akre produced the cartoon short-film “Ol’ Round Sun” in which the title character takes on his nemesis Foss L. Fyool in the fictional world of Minnesotagonia. Ol’ Round Sun has “lead the way, tell the time and grow the food until Foss L. Fyool comes to town.” Minnesotagonians end up emptying their pockets to Foss L. Fyool to pay for energy to “drive their put-puts, light the walls with his bo-bos and tell the time with their watch-a-matics.”  Eventually the Minnesotagonians become disenchanted with Foss L. Fyool and the pollution he creates, and decide to get their energy from Ol’ Round Sun, “who does it all for free.” The judges enjoyed Akre’s film so much they awarded him with second prize and a check for $750. Akre said he produced the film because of his own personal commitment to living his life with minimal environmental impact.

First prize was won by team Solar Hotdish who produced the short-film James Bond parody “Man with the Golden Sun.” Led by husband and wife Lisa and Steve Fait and including some of the best production people in the business this team of fifty people made an awe-inspiring film. Lisa Fait said, “Solar energy is a solution to many of the world's environmental and economic challenges.” If previewed at a movie theater the audience would likely be convinced it is the ‘real deal.’ And that’s because this team is the real deal - - Steve has spent over fifteen years working for a variety of film and entertainment companies both in Minneapolis and San Francisco. His team included writer/director Eric Howell who worked on the movies Fargo, Might Ducks and created the 2010 short-film Ana’s Playground that was selected to the Academy Awards short list for Best Short Film. Joe Schaak is an award-winning producer and director who founded Fiend Inc., a content creation company which made the filming of The Man with the Golden Sun a reality through its own donation of time and resources. This short-film has already caught the eye of various media bloggers and created attention across the web with several good laugh lines including “I have an app (application) for that.”

The public and the judges agreed that this short, creative suspense thriller deserved first place and a check for $1500. Environment Minnesota Director Ken Bradley said “It’s obvious that the production of this film cost way more than our fifteen hundred dollar prize. Our judges were extremely impressed, and we appreciate that team Solar Hotdish created this short film not because of the prize money, but rather to help promote our goal of 10% solar energy by 2030.”

To see these three films and all eight finalists click here.