Watch the winners of the 2015 3-Minute Masterpiece digital film contest, presented by The Seattle Times and Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF).

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Love at first sight, whiteboard and paper animations, and Bertha jokes tunneled by competition to claim winning spots in this year’s 3-Minute Masterpiece digital film contest, presented by The Seattle Times and Seattle International Film Festival.

The annual contest asks readers for movies of three minutes or less, and this year we had more than 80 entries. Ten winning films will be screened for free on the first weekend of SIFF. The festival opens Thursday, May 14, and the 3-Minute Masterpieces will be shown at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 16, at SIFF Cinema Uptown.

2015 winners

“SALARYMAN,” written and directed by Andrew Franks.

It starts, like a surprising number of entries to the 3-Minute Masterpiece contest, with the harsh ring of an alarm clock. In black-and-white, a lowly white-collar worker goes to work in Kyoto, Japan, to stamp paper. And stamp paper. Then stamp more paper. Until, no more! He trashes his office, bounds to the top of a mountain and unleashes years of frustration into the sky.

Inspiration struck director Andrew Franks, a Ballard videographer, when he was traveling through Japan; he shot the film in a single day in Kyoto, aiming for a “’50s Japanese look.”


“SOME THINGS JUST CAN’T BE REPLACED,” written, directed and animated by Rhys Kroehler.

Rhys Kroehler, a 15-year-old at Shorecrest High School, pits paper against computer in a furious battle of wordsmithing and drawing. “I can do anything you can do, and I can do it better,” the computer types in all-caps, when confronted by a piece of notepaper.

Kroehler said, “I was in my room and I was looking at my computer and I noticed how all my paper had been put in drawers and I was thinking the paper has kind of been replaced by the computer.”

But what good is a computer if it’s unplugged? “You just can’t do on a computer what you can on paper,” he said. Kroehler said drawing the facial expressions on the paper animations was the most challenging and rewarding part of his process, because he had to draw a new face for each frame.


“STAND UP FOR YOURSELF,” created by Ryan Cass.

Ryan Cass hunched over a white board for hours on end to animate “Stand Up for Yourself,” leading to an award-winning movie and some seriously scraped knees.

“I was on my knees for most of that time,” said Cass, 16, a student at Inglemoor High School in Kenmore. “They were all red … I lost some hair on them.”

It was worth it to the animator, who spent a total of 21 hours filming and editing his movie about a kid who decides to stand up for himself against a school bully. The film is full of quirky sound effects and colorful moving lines on a simple whiteboard background.


Coming up

3-Minute Masterpieces

The 3-Minute Masterpiece digital-film contest winners screen at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 16, at SIFF Cinema Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Ave. N., Seattle; free (206-324-9996 or


SIFF runs May 14-June 7 at SIFF Cinema Uptown, Egyptian, Harvard Exit and Pacific Place; also at Lincoln Square (through May 31), Renton Ikea Performing Arts Center (May 21-27) and Kirkland Performance Center (June 1-June 7); for tickets and festival info, go to or call 206-324-9996.

CREATIVE PROCESS,” directed by Andrea Stuart-Lehalle, starring Inye Wokoma.

Andrea Stuart-Lehalle, a filmmaker and musician, spent the past 14 years in Europe, before returning to the U.S. to do a 17,000-mile road trip around the country in 2014 and then settle with her husband in Seattle.

Upon returning to the U.S., she connected with the subject of her mini-documentary, artist Inye Wokoma. Stuart-Lehalle said Wokoma helped her with the “transitional therapy” necessary to move across continents and said she enjoyed his unique creative process and personality.

She said Wokoma’s artistic process “felt deeply rooted in where he came from” — Seattle’s Central District.


“THE WORTHY JAMES,” filmed by Ben Ibale, starring musician Randy Robbins.

When Ben Ibale showed up to film “The Worthy James,” a music video, rap artist Randy Robbins (Ibale’s nephew) already had a team of co-workers assembled at a Port Orchard farm in dapper old-timey suits and holding baseball bats.

“We wanted to shoot it on the farm in a 1930s theme, and lo and behold he had a full-on cast,” Ibale said, laughing. “I was like, ‘Holy crap!’”

Robbins plays a landowner trying to keep the deed to his house from a banker and his group of violent enforcers. Ibale has been shooting video for about four years and is the human and civil rights coordinator for Washington Education Association.


“BATMAN REIGNS,” directed and written by Alicia Dejoie and Jim DeJoie. Music by Jim DeJoie.

One thing about the big drill Bertha: It’s seldom boring.

So Alicia and Jim DeJoie knew it would make a great centerpiece villain to a Batman film, influenced, they said, by Adam West’s Batman TV show and Christian Bale in the Batman trilogy that ended with the 2012 “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Making fight scenes and special effects with a green screen in their living room was the best part of crafting the campy movie, Alicia said. Batman’s legacy is secure after defeating the villain. As for Bertha’s future? “We definitely wish the best for her, but we know she’s had some problems,” she said.


“WHEN ORI MET GAMI,” created by Alexander Lu.

“When Ori Met Gami,” was an experiment in mixing techniques for director Alexander Lu. Lu said he plays with five different media — video, digital photography, film photography, hand-drawn animation and origami in his short love story.

He made the movie as a project for a film class at New York University, where he’s a freshman. The task was to create a short experimental piece, so instead of experimenting with the storyline, he decided to take on the media instead.

“I’ve always been attracted to the idea of mixing up traditional storytelling styles,” Lu (formerly of Seattle) said. “This project in particular, we had kind of a restriction that we weren’t allowed to use motion. It allowed me to explore different mediums that weren’t video.”


“THE LETTER,” directed by Kristina Colleen, written by Colleen and Morganfield Riley.

A man sits at his typewriter restlessly contemplating how to respond to a love letter. He passes the time slurping down vodka, while his cat slinks around causing mischief.

Director Colleen made this movie for a class at the University of Washington; the assignment was to explore time and space.

There were many challenges in making her first creative video. Luckily, the cat wasn’t one of them; she took to the camera with star-quality.

“She ended up being a diva,” loving the attention, Colleen said.

Colleen wrote, filmed and edited “The Letter” all in one weekend.


“STOP MOTION PIANO,” created by Christopher Richardson.

Christopher Richardson, a 16-year-old from Lake Forest Park, used still photography to create a choppy effect for this portrait of himself playing a piano. After Richardson is escorted to the instrument by his bench, he cracks his knuckles and gets to work.

The video clocks in at just over one minute — a third of the three minute time-limit, with a full dose of charm.


“CHINESE TAKEOUT FOR ONE,” produced by Summer Pervez and John Wu, written by Crystal Lin Smithwick, directed by Phillip Nelson, edited by Chandra Moore, starring Jesse LaTourette, John Wu and Joel Ambo.

Two apartment dwellers meet when their Chinese takeout orders are delivered to the wrong door in this comic short. It was part acting, part competitive eating for John Wu, who said he had to wolf down several mouthfuls of ramen for each of many takes they had to do.

“I haven’t eaten Ramen since,” said Wu, a Bellevue software developer.

The film grew out of a Seattle-based Facebook group called “Weekend Warriors,” where filmmakers join together on weekends to make movies. The group has nearly 450 members now.


Note: This article was corrected on May 11, 2015. An earlier version included an 11th film, which has since been disqualified from the competition for violating rules of entry.