Prior to 2003, founder John David Ware encountered many Christians in the filmmaking industry who were talking about making films, but were frustrated for a variety of reasons.
A timed film production competition meant the end of the talking and the start of the DOING. The length of the competition was of primary importance. The contest needed to be long enough to allow for the production of serious art that would indeed advance careers (on both sides of the camera), and short enough to allow people to collaborate and not go broke in taking time off from work. Seven times twenty-four hours equals 168, and that is how the contest got its name.
The mascot was and remains Franklin B. Dog, who starred in the John David Ware scribed "New Best Friend" (view here). Dog received a Best Animal Actor nod for his work in the film.
The competition began in 2003. At the first 168 Film Festival, thirteen films screened in Evans Chapel at Bel Air Presbyterian Church to a standing room only crowd. "I am sure that some of those folks came to see how bad these short films based on Bible verses would be," said Ware, "But, they came and saw how good they were and it created a buzz in both churches and in the filmmaking community."
There were fifty-three entries the second year and in the first ten years, over 600 films had been screened, launching careers and changing lives all over the USA and in over 20 countries. "168" films have touched people in places as diverse as Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Kenya, Russia, Azerbaijan, Japan, China and many others. We are excited to energize filmmakers to produce art that celebrates the truth of God's Word.