On Stage

Lightning-Fast Movie Making

The 48 Hour Film Project gives local filmmakers just two days to shoot, cut and premiere a short film

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Every year, the 48 Hour Film Project holds a competition in which aspiring artists write, shoot and edit a short film, all within two days. The weekend starts on Friday, July 14, at 7pm and runs until Sunday, giving each team exactly 48 hours to create a movie featuring a genre, prop, character name and line of dialogue assigned by the organizers. After that, it’s a mad dash to get the project in on time.

Anthony Ambrosino, a veteran competitor, president of the RI Film Collaborative and producer of the 48 Hour Film Project, says his favorite part of the competition is watching people make connections and get their films made. “We try to get the community involved as much as possible,” says Anthony. “Some of the most fun teams are families and amateur filmmakers.”

For many teams, time management is the most difficult part of the process. However, the time crunch can also provide inspiration and motivation for the participants. “The weekend teaches you better management skills and how to meet a deadline,” Anthony says. “It’s stressful, but you get to do some great things.”

More than anything, Anthony is passionate about what the competition does for its participants. For professionals, the weekend allows them to try out new roles on set. For amateurs, the competition draws on their passion for film. “So you have a desk job and aren’t really involved in entertainment, but then you do this and your film screens next to Godzilla at Cinema World,” he says. “To bring that experience to people is really an amazing thing.”

Stephanie Caress, another participant and organizer, feels that the competition helps her “keep her feet wet” in the film industry. “Having a set weekend is a great way for me to continue my passion, but in a very limited time frame so that it doesn’t interfere with my day job,” she says.

Stephanie has competed for five years with her team, Four Frogs Productions. “That’s my favorite part of the 48: working with the team,” she says. The hardest part, according to Stephanie, is the editing process, during which something usually goes wrong. Even with technical issues, Stephanie’s team submits their film just in time, only to nervously wait for the screening. “You hope the sound is okay, you hope the flash drive you handed in has the film you made on it, and that it plays okay,” she says.

The screening happens over the course of a few days, and then the event wraps up with an awards night – complete with a rented theatre and specialty trophies. This year, the screening will take place at Cinema World in Lincoln on July 24, and audiences can watch their friends and families enjoy 15 minutes of fame. “There’s a lot of hand-shaking, back-patting, networking and reuniting,” Stephanie says. “Some of these folks you only see at the 48 awards parties, so it’s great to reconnect.”

That sense of connection and reunion, for Stephanie, is the “greatest asset” of the 48. “Every year, more people are interested in what’s happening, and every year more people want to be a part of it,” she says. “It’s always fun, it’s always fast, and it’s always igniting more love for the industry.”

48 Hour Film Project
July 14-16 

Premiere Screenings on July 24
Cinema World, 622 George Washington Highway, Lincoln