During the weekend of July 25, amateur and experienced filmmakers alike will take to the streets of Savannah to produce a movie in just two days.
The 48 Hour Film Project is a worldwide movement that invites teams to produce a film in 48 hours, as the title suggests. Founded in 2001 and offered yearly in Savannah since 2009, the project has contests in six continents and an online version. Each city’s objective is the same: write, shoot, edit and score a film in two days.
It appears a bit madcap, but the participants don’t mind.
“The process seems like it would be stressful, but it’s not,” says Savannah actor Josh Sinyard. “Yes, it is rushed. But unlike being on a regular big budget film set, you are with the people you choose to be with.”
Sinyard’s team, Blacklight Studios, won Best Film and other awards at the 2013 competition with their movie Air Assault and will participate again this year.
On July 25, at the Friday night kickoff at McDonough’s, each team will be given a character, prop, dialogue line and genre that their movie must incorporate. Every team gets a different genre, but if the team doesn’t like their genre, they can opt for the Wild Card, a choice they can’t take back.
The Wild Card can be any genre, from Romance to Film Noir to Musical. Every team has to use the same character, prop and line of dialogue somewhere in their movie.
The teams then have 48 hours to create an entire movie and drop it back off at McDonough’s (by 7:30 p.m., for their entry to count). A few weeks later, from August 8-10, all the films will be screened to the public at Muse Arts Warehouse, where awards like Best Film and Best Use of Prop are given out.
Anthony Paderewski, a local acting coach and headshot photographer, is the city producer for Savannah—meaning he’s in charge of coordinating and organizing the event, among other things.
Paderewski participated in the first Savannah competition in 2009 and took on city producer duties in 2010. This year, he says, 13 teams are registered so far, but he thinks more than 16 teams will participate.
And there will be a unique team participating in the 2014 race: a bunch of kids. Every member of Dorky Puppy Productions is 14 or under, and its leader, Jarod Valvo, is only 13.
“I think he’s actually a genius,” says Paderewski, who teaches Valvo’s acting class.
It might just take a small stroke of genius to be able to put together a film that makes sense in only 48 hours. The job’s not for chumps, and while some people enjoy working at such a fast pace, others are stressed by it. Paderewski says he chose McDonough’s as the central location because “everyone wants a beer after that crazy weekend.”
To reward the teams who get their films in on time, Paderewski uses much of the registration fees for awards.
“We kinda need that here,” he says. “We need to stimulate the arts again. I give prizes to say, ‘Hey, you guys are good.’”
While the films might not go on to win Oscars, they provide valuable experience for the people making them—and it’s just fun.
Sinyard calls the experience a blast and urges anyone who’s interested in film to take part in the project.
“The Savannah film community is a close-knit group and very supportive of each other,” he says. “I promise, at the very least you’ll have a good time at the screenings.”