48 Hour Film Project: Lights, camera, lots of action!

With 48 hours of jam-packed production time, from casting to editing, small groups of filmmakers came together early this summer to build 7-minute stories. The rules were simple: include a character (either Edward or Elizabeth Vanterbus, Marine Life Scientist), a prop (a cone) and a line (“Read the sign. What does it say?”) but each creative team took their film to the next level.

The night was emceed by Ricky Rainbow Beard and his co-host Bobby, a neck-tie puppet fished out of Beard’s white jumper. The dynamic duo fielded questions at the end of each screening, zipping up and down the aisles of the theatre in a flurry of hot pink hair and a bright white jumpsuit. The audience was more than happy to ask their questions and the creatives on stage were more than happy to answer. One segment even ended with everyone shouting out “HI SAM!” and “YOU’RE AN AWESOME ACTOR!” for an actor who couldn’t attend the screening. Overall, the screening was an everybody-knows-everybody kind of event, but even when they didn’t know you, you were greeted like an old friend.


The loving shouting from the stage and the heckling audience added to the offbeat atmosphere around the series of short films, which ranged from serious murder vibes to campy sugar-cone salesmen. Each film stood on its own two feet even though they included the three common threads (character, prop, and line). Sometimes Edward Vanterbust was the victim of demonic entities either trying to kill him or get him audited, sometimes he was the wrong kind of doctor, whatever he wound up becoming he was a lot more popular than Elizabeth Vanterbust who rarely passed the Bechdel test.

The 48 Hour Film Project is like the beginning of a coming-of-age film, with teams of creatives coming together for the chance at international recognition. The winner of this year’s Providence Project is submitted to the international film festival, Filmapalooza, in Lisbon, Portugal. The winner of Filmapalooza then moves on to the Cannes Film Festival.

This coming-of-age sentiment was especially true for participant Al Kholi who assured me the event was better than going to film school. Kohli said, “This is the best way to learn how to make a film. Some people spend four years in film school but you could come here and learn how to jump hurdles and be resourceful.” For each hurdle a creative gets over, it seems they get through a semester of film school. From technical difficulties like Adobe erasing backing tracks just hours before the deadline to forgetting to shoot scenes entirely, creatives are pushed to workshop and fix mishaps as soon as possible to make it to the deadline.

The directors/producers gave their audiences a look behind the camera during each question-and-answer segment. Creatives shared their off-screen creative process in their responses. Casting seemed split between the team doubling up their responsibilities and directors looking for actors on Facebook. Editing however seemed to be the biggest challenge each team mounted with creatives agreeing their initial shooting gave them enough footage for a 30-minute film at least.

The editing process is usually the most grueling part, as creatives are forced to, at times, kill their darlings. From B-roll of rain streams floating leaves down the road, to bloody fingers shoved in handkerchief pockets, each creative seemed disappointed with the exclusion of certain ideas that didn’t make it past the final production phases. When asked about lighting and audio, each producer was constrained by their location, which meant a lot of rain or indoor scenes. This resourcefulness was especially on display for horror films, which often had complex backgrounds that used location to their advantage. One team filmed in a theatre and used the theatre lights to give their film a Baroque quality.

Although shooting seemed to be where creatives had the most fun, they still cited some mishaps during the process (one actor was even injured in an improvised scene). This danger seems less uncommon when considering these creatives were surviving on energy drinks, pizza, and about three hours of sleep. Productions were cast, written, shot, and edited in about two days and the creative teams used every hour they had. They burned through the night in efforts to make the deadline with several creatives submitting just minutes before deadline.

The 48 Hour Film Project is the perfect way for creatives to get their foot in the door for film productions. Many cited the experience as the best way to learn their craft because the time crunch forced them to make executive decisions that ultimately led them either to victory or defeat. The project sets the scene for a starting creative to sink or swim, and if they swim they may be on their way to international film recognition.