20-year-old Austin Fitzpatrick starred in "Shades of Red," a film noir–style tale that he and his team filmed in his living room in front of a green screen before using CGI to create elaborate city sets.

20-year-old Austin Fitzpatrick starred in “Shades of Red,” a film noir–style tale that he and his team filmed in his living room in front of a green screen before using CGI to create elaborate city sets.

Austin and Conner Fitzpatrick

The International Youth Silent Film Festival challenges people 20 and younger to take a step back in time. Using one of ten original organ soundtracks and whatever equipment they have access to, whether 8mm cameras or cell phones, the aspiring filmmakers create everything from an animated film about the Mars rover to Western-style gun battles, post-apocalyptic tales and, of course, love stories. The finalists are then screened with live organ accompaniment.  

Jon Palanuk started the festival in 2007 in Portland, and it quickly spread to schools and theaters in Australia, New Zealand and the Midwest. This year’s big global competition is June 8 at the Hollywood Theater.

Our producer Aaron Scott sat down with Palanuk and the reigning Pacific NW regional champions, the brothers Austin (20) and Connor (18) Fitzpatrick, who used cutting-edge CGI to create a black-and-white-and-red film noir tale of love and kidnapping.

The Fitzpatrick brother’s winning film from last year’s NW awards:

More previous winners: