If you were on South Beach last weekend you might have seen a frenzied film crew sprinting between locations with two days worth of stubble and a crazed, caffeine-flooded stare in their eyes. What you witnessed, disguised in wrinkled clothes and greasy hair, was cutting edge movie making in action, thanks to the Miami installment of an international film competition called the 48 Hour Film Project.
The 48 Hour Film Project started in 2001 in Washington D.C. with ten teams of filmmakers and a few looming questions: Could a group of ambitious and slightly masochistic filmmakers produce an entertaining short movie in just 48 hours? Would a movie made in a single weekend be watchable, let alone good?
When the films wrapped at the end of the weekend everyone agreed, the experiment had been a resounding success.
“The filmmakers just loved it,” said 48 Hour Film Project creator and executive producer Mark Ruppert, “and we in fact did it just six months later again in Washington D.C.”
After spreading to six cities in 2002 including New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta, the film competition continued to grow over the next few years, eventually landing in Miami in 2005.
This past Friday the 48 Hour Film Project descended on Miami once again. Fifty-six teams of filmmakers running the gamut from Best Buy camcorder amateurs to HD wielding professionals gathered at Flavour at 7 p.m. The weekend competition kicked off with the big genre hat-pick and the mandatory elements distribution – otherwise known as the competition’s giant kick in the pants.
As if trying to create a wonderful film between 7 p.m. on Friday and 7 p.m. on Sunday isn’t hard enough, the 48 Hour Film Project has a crafty way of making sure that participants don’t get started early: Teams have to pick their genres out of a hat at the weekend launch party where they also receive this year’s mandatory character, prop and line of dialogue that must appear in every film made in Miami. Keep an eye out for Peter or Penny Monkton (linguist), a paper cup and the words “It makes me want to cry” in the 2007 crop of 48 hour films.
Despite the obvious limitations of scripting, shooting and editing a film in a mere two days, through a combination of creativity, determination and plain old skill Miami’s filmmakers manage to produce some really entertaining short films.
“There’s a lot of films that are actually really good productions,” said Miami 48HFP producer Martin García. “You could see them turning into a feature film or they’re really shot at the level of a feature film.”
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Apparently the filmmakers even enjoy making them.
“The entire experience was something! It was amazing. It was horrible. It was the most insightful experience I've ever had as a filmmaker. In fact, I wasn't really a filmmaker until now (even when I actually shot on film),” wrote a competition participant on the Miami 48HFP Blog.
But are any of these movies worth a damn? This Wednesday and Thursday at 7 and 9 p.m. all 56 films produced for the competition will be screened in four groups at the Colony Theatre on Lincoln Road in front of a rowdy and enthusiastic crowd of film crews, family, friends and uninvolved movie geeks.
You can also check out films made around the world as part of the 48 Hour Film Project online. Maybe next year someone will shoot an homage to Red Bull. -- Sarah Feldberg