jacksonville's 48 hour film project

by elizabeth copley
Imagine producing a film from beginning to end in 48 hours. Yes, writing, shooting, editing and scoring an entire production. If that’s not enough, all you have is a character, a prop and one line of dialogue. Still not challenged? The genre of the film is determined by a random drawing. You may have Colonel Mustard with a wrench and the line “The butler did it” then draw a musical as your genre. Make it work.
If you’re competitive, have a passion for filmmaking and enjoy living on the edge, the 48 Hour Film Project is for you. The competition offers two wild days and sleepless nights to complete the best short film. Each team selects its own cast, crew and equipment. 48 hours and a whole lot of coffee later, teams drop off their projects for review. Films are four to eight minutes in length and a screening is guaranteed to all who finish.
Now in its ninth year, the 48 Hour Film Project advances the art of filmmaking and promotes new filmmakers. The compressed time frame emphasizes in-the-moment creativity and teamwork. The Project encourages both experienced and first-time filmmakers to step out and make movies. 2009 is Jacksonville’s third year participating in the national and international short film project.
According to the Jacksonville 48 Hour Film Project Producer, Mac McDonald, the competition began in 2001 with a small group of filmmakers from Washington, DC who wanted to see if they could produce a short film in one weekend that would be watchable. They were successful and their friends encouraged them to continue. The group took the project around the country to different cities forming teams to make short films in a weekend. Anyone could register to become part of a team. As it grew, it became too much for the group to manage so they decided to empower cities to conduct their own competitions, enabling them to determine if interest in making short films would hold. By the 2008 competition, 30,000 filmmakers made films in 70 cities worldwide. This year, it’s even bigger. The first two years saw 26 Jacksonville teams compete; this year McDonald indicated he’s expecting anywhere from 32 to 34 teams.
McDonald is pleased with how Jacksonville has embraced this competition, proving that there is a promising market here for short films. 2008 brought several new partnerships to the Jacksonville competition with PRI Productions providing the screening resources at the Florida Theater.
In Europe, short films are an accepted art form just as feature films are in the US. All over Europe there are short film venues and even television channels dedicated to the art. Filmmakers are able to sell their short films, making enough money to produce more. As the short film market grows in the US (and this writer is seeing more and more short films on Sundance and the Independent Film Channel), local filmmakers will have the same opportunities as their European counterparts.
This year’s competition will kick off Friday, April 3rd at 7 pm at the Jacksonville Landing. Films must be completed and turned in at the drop-off event at the Landing no later than 7 pm Sunday, April 5th. Screenings will be held at the Florida Theater on Tuesday, April 7th and Wednesday, April 8th. Judges for this year’s competition will include industry professionals from New York, Los Angeles and South Florida.
If you have an interest in film, this is the place to begin your film education. Experience is not required! Volunteer to do food and drink runs, pick up the trash, make sure everything is back as it was before the shoot began on the production site – there is no shortage of jobs when it comes to making a film in a 48 hour timeframe. And there’s no better way to learn the art of filmmaking than being directly on the set.
McDonald will post the Meet and Greet schedule at the River City Brewing Company on the project’s website at 48hourfilm.com/Jacksonville. Visit the site for these dates as well as to register your team for the competition. The meetings will take place in February and March. Or, contact Mac McDonald at [email protected] for more information.

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