The 48 Hour Film Project

Something that we reviewers sometimes forget when expressing our opinions on a film is that what we’re watching didn’t just pop onto the screen. The film in question took several months, maybe even years to make, with an enormous amount of people contributing to it.  Effort and passion was (often) poured into it and when it comes to the short films displayed at the 48 Hour Film Project screening, those elements are very much present.

With variants existing in cities all across the world, including here in Glasgow, the 48 Hour Film Project is exactly what you’d think it is. Teams of people come together and have 48 hours to make a short film.  Sounds simple enough, right? But not only is there the stress of having a mere window of two days to finish this. They all have to follow specific guidelines such as a character name, a prop and a line of dialogue as well as each team having to make their film based around one of two genres that they are given. This year the character was Domino McGonigall, the prop was a tomato and the line “Think big” had to be used somewhere.

On top of the hilarious oddness of those things these guidelines are very helpful to the aspiring filmmakers taking part. Even if you’re merely competing for fun it’s a great technique to incorporate. These rules force the competitors to think on their feet and get creative with what limited time they have available to them. Obviously because of this there isn’t a lot of time for refinement, but some of cinema’s most recognised films had to get inventive with time constraints and technical issues. The reason we have the famous Point of View shot from Jaws is because the mechanical shark kept failing. When you consider the limitations placed on these teams it makes the final products all the more impressive.

When attending the launch parties and the screenings of the short films themselves the atmosphere is a vibrant one, dripping with enthusiasm and creativity. What lay ahead for many of the teams competing is no doubt stressful, but as previously stated the narrow window and strict limitations can bring out the best in passionate filmmakers and film lovers, and those attributes are undoubtedly on display when their short films are presented on the Glasgow Film Theatre’s main screen. Whether the films were going for the multiple awards handed out or purely for viewership, what was on display was very much resonant of the excitement that one could easily pick up from the 48 Hour Film Project’s launch parties.

Like films playing at a cinema, the short films displayed as part of the project vary in quality but you find yourself abandoning the mind set you would normally have upon watching a new release as acknowledging the hurdles the participating filmmakers had to overcome with these films is critical. Once you adopt that frame of mind it’s easy to get lost in the inventiveness displayed. Some of the films this year included a horror picture with a terrific cinematography and use of angles and lightning and an amusing fish out of water story involving a burglar and a pregnant woman that certainly fit the genre. It was very interesting to see what the project brought out in these people and the end results were entertaining to watch.

If filmmaking is an undisclosed passion of yours and you enjoy getting together with your mates to film something, then the 48 Hour Film Project is something you should seriously consider doing when it comes to back to Glasgow next year. Even as a mere observer of the event the enthusiasm that radiated off the competitors and the organisers was contagious.  Not only is the project a great way of exploring your passions and meeting people that share your love of film but with the restraints put in place, as stressful as they are, you might be surprised by what you can do. Time might not be on your side but your drive to deliver something resourceful definitely will be. For six years now this project has come to Glasgow and judging from how many people came to observe or participate it looks as though the scheme and the gusto around it is only going to keep on growing.

The 48 Hour Film Project was held in The Flying Duck between the 14th and the 20th of October and be sure to keep an eye out when it returns to Glasgow next year.

[Calum Cooper]

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