The 48 Hour Film Project, the twelfth one in Seattle, drew in 73 teams this year – that’s over 1,000 people — last weekend. Amateur and professional filmmakers, cinematographers, DPs, directors, producers, and actors from all skill levels participated in the invigorating, high-pressure challenge of completing a short film under creative constraints with a team in only 48 hours.
“It’s such a rush,” says Rick Walters, an actor, producer and 48 Hour Film Project veteran – this is his sixth time participating. “I’m still buzzing from it, and my whole team is buzzing from it.”
And more and more people are craving that rush – the overall trajectory of the competition has been one of incremental growth, says Seattle project organizer Krk Nordenstrom.
“I think it’s the YouTube age,” says Nordenstrom. “Through technological advances, filmmaking has really been democratized. Anyone with a smart phone can shoot a movie now and the 48 Hour Film Project is the perfect excuse to stop talking about making a movie and make an actual movie.”
While professional, commercial film work can be lucrative, Nordenstrom says, it can also drain one’s creative reserves. “The 48 Hour Film Project offers the professional a chance to clean out the “creative cobwebs” so to speak. Many have said it’s a good touchstone to why they got into the industry in the first place…because IT’S FUN!”
He also says the 48 Hour Film Project is a great opportunity for a ‘newbie” to cut one’s teeth with filmmaking and craft a demo reel.
“When you are faced with a very strict time limit and creative obstacles, it really forces you to understand the importance of using what resources you have to their fullest. It’s like film school in a weekend!”
Just ask Wynter Rhys, a 17 year-old film director interested mainly in making in psych thrillers – “the dark and raw and creepy stuff that gets under your skin.” This year is her third 48 Hour Film Project challenge, and her first time directing an entire team.
“It’s helped me grow as filmmaker because people who have seen my work before can now see that my directorial style also translates in a high stress environment; and that it didn’t waver.”
Rhys says after some sound editing and color correction, she will add this year’s film to her reel and be submitting it to youth-oriented festivals such as NFFTY and the All-American High School Film Festival.
Most of all, she says, the 48 Hour Film Project has taught her to think quickly on her feet and seek clarity in the balancing act of “knowing exactly what needs to be done and what I want to do, without being closed off to innovation. And also handling stress!”
Without a doubt, making a short film shine in 48 hours is stressful. In fact, a couple of years ago Rick Walters swore he would never do it again.
“It’s a harsh mistress, the 48 Hour Film Project, because it takes the perfect storm of components to make it work,” he says.
But when one film he worked on, Graveyard Shift, won awards at Filmapalooza in Los Angeles, he was hooked. (Filmapalooza is the international “Best Of” festival for the 48 Hour Film Project. Winners also have a chance to screen at the world-famous Cannes Film Festival as well.)
“Leadership,” says Walters, “is a valuable commodity on any film set. So aside from workflow and process, being able to give purpose, direction, and motivation to a group of people while sticking to a schedule …people don’t necessarily know how to do that innately. You have to learn that.”
This year the team Walters worked on got their film in two minutes before the final deadline – adding to the ultimate thrill of making a filmic vision come to life by working with a team underneath a tight time constraint. The project, he says, has been one of his greatest accomplishments this year.
You can check out the products of the 48 Hour Filmmaking Project on July 25, 26, and 27 at SIFF Cinema Uptown in Queen Anne. More info here. The awards ceremony will be on August 8. For more information on the 48 Hour Film Project, click here.