Local Filmmakers Showcased At San Diego International Film Festival
ShortFest on Friday highlights works from 48HR Film Project
The 48HR Film Project and the San Diego International Film Festival have been partnering for years to highlight short films made by local filmmakers. This Friday, at noon, the best of the pandemic produced 48HR short films will be available in a virtual Shorts Fest.
Filmmaking can be a long and arduous process. But in this time of fast food and instant gratification, filmmakers can challenge themselves to make a film really fast, essentially in one weekend through an annual event called 48HR Film Project. And if the time parameters are not restrictive enough, filmmakers must also work within the genre they are assigned and use a prop, character name and line of dialogue assigned to them.
So why would anyone subject themselves to such a creative ordeal?
"So in the beginning, I bemoaned the fact that I had to use all of those things because I'm like, 'you're holding me back creatively.' But in the end, I actually really like that they're in there. There's little sort of Easter eggs," said filmmaker Christina Rheuby. "So, when I put out the movie that we made, I like to tell them, 'if you think it's amazing, we made this in 48 hours and if you don't think it's great, just remember we made this in 48 hours.' So it buys you a lot of flexibility and credence from people that they're like, oh, wow, you made this in 48 hours."
48HR Film Project San Diego organizer Duane Trammell added that the restrictions inspire creativity.
"The single biggest thing is the creativity," he said. "Side note to the creativity is just good teamwork and how everyone just loves doing this competition. I know as a film student, I did it right after I graduated San Diego State and I feel like I learned as much doing the 48HR Film Project as I did in the other film projects that I did in school. The compression of time forces you to be creative and to make decisions very quickly."
Take the props. Each year Trammell struggles to come up with a prop that cannot be used as a weapon.
"So one year, we had marshmallows. And of course, someone died by marshmallow, if you can imagine that even happening," Trammell said.
Rheuby had worked on a team for a previous 48HR Film Project but last year decided to lead her own team. The result was "Sound Bites," which screens this Friday online at San Diego International Film Festival.
She took up the challenge by shooting a film within a film.
"Specifically, we made it a one-shot, which is where the bulk of it there's no edits because I wanted a thing that I was like, we're going to get it. Like we rehearsed all day, five of our seven minutes is a one-shot because I just wanted to see it and have it all come together quickly," Rheuby said.
To get an idea of what this process is like, I embedded myself with a film team for a Four Points Film Project in 2017, a sister event to 48HR Film Project that affords the filmmakers one additional day to create their film. Check out the video below.
That team was led by stuntman and filmmaker Fernando Jay Huerto. He has his latest 48HR film, "Earth's Last Shot," screening on Friday as well. (For full disclosure, I volunteered to help on Huerto's film to see what shooting in the pandemic would be like.)
Adding to the challenges of this crop of films was that they were all shot during the pandemic and had to adhere to strict COVID-19 protocols on the set.
The next opportunity to partake in a 48HR Film Project will be in September, and Trammel is not yet sure if the final films with screen online or in person.
"I also want to mention for beginning filmmakers, we encourage beginning filmmakers," Trammell said. "And if you email us and tell us that you're a beginning filmmaker, we'll work to get you hooked up with a mentor, somebody who's done it before to help you through that process. So it's great we have high school teams that do it. Our youngest filmmaker who formed his own team was 9 years old and was very close to winning Best Film. He did a great film. Of course, he was working with his family and everything, but he was the team leader at 9 years old."
If you want to see what the 48HR Film Project challenge can result in, then check out the Shorts Fest block at noon, Friday, May 14 as part of the San Diego International Film Festival. Maybe it will inspire you to take on the 48HR challenge in September.