Based on a conversation with some young filmmakers about the movie The Five Obstructions, I created a low-budget competition that provides an excuse for filmmakers to go out and make short movies on a regular basis. Welcome to the fourth bi-monthly lens-bending, hustle-flexing Six Obstructions challenge.

The rules are explained after the jump, or go directly to Making the Movie Challenge Number Four.

The jump…

I’ve updated the list of choices in Props, Characters and Situations. A roll of the die will select the obstructions in this challenge.

If you want to play unofficially, you can roll your own die or cherry-pick from choices below. Also, feel free to complete the challenges from previous months: Challenge #1, Challenge #2, Challenge #3. At this point, I’m accepting all submissions in the spirit of the challenge.

One last thing. The cost to enter is zero, zilch, nada, the big goose egg. Put your money into your movies.

A. Props
The prop must be featured prominently in the plot.
1. A red baloon
2. A backpack filled with women’s undergarments
3. A black leather glove
4. A funny hat
5. A power drill
6. Sixteen candles

B. Characters
This must be a prominent character, defined as having twenty percent+ of lines or screentime, although he/she/it need not be the protagonist.
1. A mute little boy
2. An attractive person who is treated like a nerd because they wear glasses
3. A talking fish
4. A college or high-school drop-out
5. A pious politician
6. A clean-cut skateboarder

C. Situations
The following location or scene must be in the movie.
1. Set in 2056
2. The diagnosis of a rare disease
3. Set in a nursing home
4. A wedding of some kind
5. A dinner table scene
6. Someone makes a bet of $100,000

D. Techniques
1. At least three shots inspired by shots from Alfred Hitchcock movies
2. Cannot contain a single spoken word of English*, or subtitles
3. Must use only one type of camera rig (can use no rig, i.e. hand-held)
4. No camera movement or zooms allowed
5. Must cross the 180 degree line five times within the movie
6. Except for the eyes of actors, must not contain the color blue (color may be removed or altered in post)

* that’s in the American Heritage Dictionary, sticklaz. And if you’re fluent in a language other than English, keep in the spirit of the obstruction by not using it.

For the next challenge, I’ll be replacing some of the choices. Send your obstruction ideas to makingthemovie AT-SIGN gmail DOT com with the subject line “Obstruction Ideas”. We’re looking for challenges that can be done quickly and on a low budget and that force the filmmakers to be creative.

Now, we cast the die… 6, 5, 3, 1.

The Challenge

A. Prop # 6 – Sixteen candles
B. Character # 5 – A pious politician
C. Situation # 3 – Set in a nursing home
D. Technique # 1 – Three homages to Hitchcock movies

You have until December 1, 2005 when I’ll release the 5th challenge. Beyond the bragging rights and resume boost “I won the Six Obstructions Challenge,” there may be some small prizes available, depending on whether the judges (Me and Myself) think the submission quality deserves it. Hey, the cost to enter is free.

We’ll try web submissions this go around. Upload your video in .mov, .avi, .mp4 or .m4v format (if you don’t have access to some ftp space, you can use Google’s Video Upload Program — caveat: it can take a few weeks for your video to be available). Then send a link to the uploaded file to makingthemovie AT-SIGN gmail DOT com with the subject line “Six Obstructions Challenge #4”. It would be a good idea to test the link before sending it. If you can’t get your video into a computer-readable format, send me an email and I’ll see what I can do.

RELATED: Six Obstructions Challenge #1 (explains the origins of the Six Obstructions Challenge), Six Obstructions Challenge #2 (a film noir challenge)
Six Obstructions Challenge #3 (laundromats and yoga instructors, oh my)

PHOTO CREDIT: Flickr’s BigPru.