Film Feature: 48 Hour Film Project

Every year, film-makers from all around the world take on a deceptively simple challenge: to write, shoot, and edit a short film in just 48 hours. Ludovica Credendino caught up with the challenge’s Glasgow branch to get a sense of just how much it takes.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate this experience?

This was not just a question the film-makers got ironically asked by the audience after the screening. As its name suggests, in the 48 Hour Film Project participants have just two days to write, shoot, and edit a short film. It may not sound crazy to someone who has never actually been involved in the making of a film, but completing a four-to-seven minute long work can take a couple of weeks, or even several months, which means making the most of those 48 hours is crucial.

The faces of the sleep-deprived film-makers on the Sunday night were the proof of just how exhausting their weekend had been. After what is likely to be among the most productive couple of days of their lives, the directors and their crew celebrated the end of the weekend with a little self-reward: alcohol. The environment at The Flying Duck, where the drop-off event took place, was incredibly relaxed, maybe because of the beers that were had or just because very few people had managed to sleep the previous night. However, the air was filled with excitement and when a black alarm clock rang at 6:30 PM, officially putting an end to the 48 hours, even I felt relieved.

It’s the fifth year that the 48 Hour Film Project takes place in Glasgow, but it’s been going on for longer than that in an increasing number of cities all over the world. The rules are easy: every group randomly draws a genre from a hat during the kickoff event and gets to change it with a “wild card” genre if not happy with the first option. In addition, each group must include in their film some obligatory elements: a character, and object and a line of dialogue, which this year was indeed “on a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate this experience?”. When the event is over the race against time begins.

One of the first things I heard as people emptied their pints was a very sarcastic “Are we doing it again next year?”. So I tried to ask to the groups I got the chance to talk to if they were thinking of repeating the experience. I got back a couple of not very convincing maybes, but a lot of the participants did take part more than once in this crazy project. Why? The reply that best summarised everyone’s thoughts was “It forces you do get something done, and knowing that today there’s a new film that wasn’t even an idea two days ago is an incredible feeling”.

By then I didn’t really know what to expect from the screening. I knew that I probably wouldn’t get the chance to see a western or a musical. This is because when the “western/musical” genre gets picked groups tend to change it for the wild card, as horses and cowboy hats are not easily available in Glasgow, and writing songs for a short musical sounds difficult enough. I was also surprised to hear that comedy wasn’t a popular genre among film-makers, their favourite being horror, as exaggeration is permitted and encouraged.

The screening of the films took place on Wednesday and Thursday of the following week at Glasgow Film Theatre. I could only attend the screening on Wednesday, but I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the first couple of films screened, a sci-fi and a horror, even if I was hoping to see the film-makers risking more with these genres. From mockumentary to fantasy, all genres were really well presented and the humor and originality shown in the films exceeded my expectations. As predicted, no western or musical were screened, but there were a couple of original genres such as “film de femme” and “a fish out of water”. What was also funny was meeting the chippy worker Tam or Tammy, the obligatory character, dealing drugs, stealing piggy banks, bathing in chips and seeing how every group designed a different personality for him or her according to their genre.

I would never have guessed those films were made in two days, and on my way home I started wondering about what I’d normally have to do in about 48 hours to call my weekend productive. I pat myself on the back every time I remember to feed myself. On a scale from 1 to 10, I’d give a 4 to my dysfunctional self and a 10 to all the participants of the 48 Hour Film Project for reminding me how precious time can be.

[Ludovica Credendino]

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