Why You Should Consider Being Part of the 48 Hour Film Project

Published On May 24, 2012 | By admin | Blog Post, film production, Independent Film

When I accepted the honor of being one of the three judges for the Las Vegas 48 Hour Film Project I really didn’t know what was involved.  Along with my fellow judges Kelly Schwarze, director of “You People” and Founder of the Indie Film Factory, producer Christopher Webster (Hellraiser, Heathers) and the producer of the Las Vegas event filmmaker and Theatre7 owner Derek Stonebarger, we took on the challenge of trying to ascertain which of the projects submitted were the best in a number of categories. 

In case you’re not familiar with the 48HFP let me give you a quick overview.  It was launched in May 2001 by Mark Ruppert who wanted to see if it was possible to make a film in 48 hours.  Along with his colleague Liz Langston and other filmmakers in the DC area the group formed a team and started experimenting with how to make films that would be watchable in 48 hours.  As part of the “weekend” beginning on a Friday night teams write, shoot, edit and score films and then turn them in 48 hours later.  All are given a character, a prop, a line of dialogue and a genre that must be included as part of their entry.

As I mentioned, we had several categories to choose winners in including the top prize of Best Film and two runner-ups..  The films were also screened before the public and audience awards for Groups A, B and C chosen.  Some of the numerous areas we selected winners for included: Best Special Effects, Best Directing, Best Editing, Best Musical Score, Best Graphics, Best Writing, Best Cinematography, Best Writing, Best Costumes, Best Actor & Actress in both lead and supporting roles as well as for Ensemble Cast, Best Use of Genre, Character, Prop and Line and for me the hardest award of all the award for Best Sound Design.  It is worth noting that in lots of these films sound is one element that is often hard to keep at a professional level, which should definitely be given consideration when assigning team tasks.  Although it is true that a lot of the same filmmakers submit and may even receive multiple awards, the  judges make a special effort to spread the honors around and try to recognize as many entries and filmmakers as possible.

I encourage anyone who is interested in filmmaking, regardless of their level of expertise, to join a team in their area and become part of the 48HFP experience.  In addition to flexing your filmmaking muscles the event provides a great opportunity to meet other people who share your passion, network with colleagues and maybe win a prize.  This year in Las Vegas, Nevada Camera & Lens gave out $300, $200 and $100 to the top three films we chose and donated a $4200 red epic camera rental package to a team they selected.

Both Stonebarger and Gabe Wardell, who is the Atlanta 48HFP producer and one of two individuals selected to manage the event’s national and international sponsorship relationships, had words of wisdom to offer those considering joining in the fun next year.  Derek recommended, “Keep the team small, and make sure you have a fast editor.”  Wardell added, “Just do it.  It’s an invaluable experience.  Have fun!  The slogan is “from dream to screen in 48 hours”…embrace that.  Don’t let it become a nightmare.  Sometimes a bumpy road is part of the process.  Embrace it.  Also–write a good script.  You will not regret the decision to devote the time tightening the story on the front end.  A short concept well executed is always preferable to an overly elaborate and ambitious project shoddily presented.” 

I have to say that as a judge in this year’s competition I have gained new respect for those who put themselves on the line and participate and hope the event keeps gaining momentum and attracting even more talented and enthusiastic individuals next time.

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