Ragtag Cinema, Mizzou Advantage hold inaugural 20-20

Ragtag Cinema, Mizzou Advantage give 400 seconds a new meaning.

A lot can happen in 400 seconds: A car driving at 60 MPH can go almost seven miles. A particularly hungry person can make three separate bowls of instant oatmeal with time to spare. And Kanye West can perform the entirety of "So Appalled."

Ragtag Cinema and Mizzou Advantage decided to use the six minutes and 40 seconds a little differently.

The inaugural 20-20, held Oct. 4 at Ragtag Cinema, put its presenters in an unfamiliar place. Each of them presented 20 slides, but they only had 20 seconds to discuss each one.

Ragtag Cinema film booker Paul Sturtz came up with the idea.

“There are events like this happening all over the world,” Sturtz said. “I got the idea four years ago just traveling around and thought it would be fun to adapt it to Columbia and make it more open-ended.”

Sturtz then contacted MU Facilitator Carsten Strathausen.

“He contacted me a half year ago,” Strathausen said. “We wrote a proposal to the Mizzou Advantage program and they gave us funds to finance this.”

Once Mizzou Advantage approved the proposal, Sturtz and Strathausen looked for others who were interested in their project. One of those interested parties was Columbia Art League Director Diana Moxon.

“It was kind of new and brought different elements of the community together,” Moxon said. “(It was a) chance for the community and the university to get together on the project.”

A selection committee, which included Moxon, Sturtz, Strathausen and others, picked the presenters for the first event.

“The idea was to get eight interesting people and interesting topics,” Strathausen said. “It wasn’t structured thematically.”

Although topic was not a concern for the selectors, diversity was.

“We wanted a mixture of men and women, community and university people," Moxon said. "We were trying to find a cross section of people."

Although the group promoted mostly through media outlets and word of mouth, the event was, by the group's measures, a success.

“We sold out,” Strathausen said. “We had a good friend, a colleague, who couldn’t get in.”

Strathausen said he believes selling out the venue was important, but he places a higher importance on less measurable successes.

“I hope a lot of people asked themselves the kind of questions I did,” Strathausen said. “The connections you draw between writing a novel and the way people experience music, scientific research coupled with personal stories, it really covered a wide spectrum.”

Strathausen's emphasis on the way people react as opposed to the event itself is one Sturtz shares.

“Most of it, for me, is just encouraging these kinds of interactions between people who might not ordinarily come across presenters like this,” Sturtz said.

“We’re hoping it encourages a lot of collaborations through casual interaction.”

Even though the curtain has just dropped on the first event, the board is already considering the future.

“Going forward, we have plans to have it every other month, so there’s at least three events planned for this academic year,” Strathausen said. “Do we hopefully need to go bigger? Is there more interest? For now, I’m really excited.”

In terms of presenters, 20-20 is keeping its criteria relatively undefined.

“We’re looking to diversify,” Sturtz said.

The next event will be held Dec. 6.

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