The 48 Hour Film Project


Originally published in Tangents Magazine, August 2016

Could you make a movie in just two days? Dozens of independent filmmakers around Charlotte will find out this August when the 48 Hour Film Project comes to town. The Project (also known as the 48HFP) is an annual filmmaking competition held in 130 cities across the globe. Anyone can form a team and sign up – no experience required. Team members may be amateur or professional filmmakers, but all must participate on a volunteer basis. At the official kickoff event August 12, project judges will assign each team a random genre, one character, one prop, and one line of dialogue to include in their film, which they have exactly 48 hours to make. The final product must be four to seven minutes long, not including credits. Other than that, anything goes! Citywide competitions take place throughout the year, and the season culminates in a weeklong finale event called Filmapalooza. There, the city winners join up to screen their short films, make connections within the industry, and contend for the grand prize, a showing at the Cannes Film Festival in France!

The 48 Hour Film Project (or 48HFP) began in 2001, when two friends named Mark Ruppert and Liz Langston challenged themselves and their colleagues to make a movie in two days. They found the creative process to be intensely inspiring, and the project grew exponentially over time. To date, more than 30,000 films have been submitted by teams ranging in size from one to 160 members. Several major Hollywood actors and producers have participated, including Dennis Farina and Nick Clooney. People are drawn to the challenge of the task and the rawness of artwork made with little time for editing or revision.

Two-time former participant Walker Spruill says the people that make up a team can make or break its success. Although no restrictions exist on the number of team members, it works best when teams are small and each person wears several hats. Too many cooks in the kitchen can make for unnecessary confusion and deliberation, which wastes time. In a task where decision-making time is scarce, each person must keep his or her own ego in check and trust in the expertise of others. Walker also advises using high-quality audiovisual equipment if possible and testing all gear in advance. Make sure you know how to use your equipment inside and out, she says, to avoid unexpected technical difficulties. Finally, plan your filming locations in advance (stick to one or two, ideally) but be ready for plans to change at the drop of a hat.

If you’d like to participate in this year’s 48HFP, there’s still time! Registration costs $160/team until August 2; late registration costs $175/team and goes until kickoff day August 12. The fee includes two tickets to the premiere screening of all Charlotte film submissions at McGlohon Theater in Spirit Square August 26. The screening event, which is open to the public, will most likely sell out. For more information, hit up the 48 Hour Film Project on Facebook or go to Grab those cameras and get rolling!

Kirk, M. “Make a movie in two days with the 48 Hour Film Project.” Tangents Magazine [Charlotte, NC]. August 2016: 7. Print.

❤ SG


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