Forty-eight hours is plenty of time to do a lot of things — clean your apartment, go to Cedar Point, take a trip to IKEA (well, maybe if you hurry). But write, shoot and edit a movie? I don’t think so. Yet, last weekend more than 50 area teams did just that as part of the 2011 Detroit 48 Hour Film Project. The contest kicked off Friday night at on Nine Mile, and films had to be turned in by Sunday night — exactly 48 hours later.
For a challenge so daunting, the rules are surprisingly simple. No creative work can be done before the contest starts. Every team must use the same character, prop and line of dialogue somewhere in its film (in this case: Dave or Diane Pellaton, president of something; apples; and “When did that happen?”). Finally, each team is assigned a film genre. Other than that, pretty much everything is fair game.
“What I like most about the experience is the ability to create,” said Rob Rose, a Ferndale resident who has competed in the 48HFP with his friend Patrick Duffy the past two years. “I’ll never stop getting a kick out of seeing something that I made come to life on screen.”
But along with the glory — completed films will be screened at the Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak on Wednesday and Thursday () — there also comes frustration.
“You can prepare for everything you know,” Rose said, “but you can’t prepare for what you don’t. I’m not talking about the fundamental rules and set-up of the 48HFP, but we experienced some major drama last year when people that we thought we could count on failed to deliver when we flipped on the lights.”
The Detroit 48HFP is part of the now-international 48 Hour Film Project, which began in Washington, DC, in 2001, and now has sanctioned contests in more than 80 cities around the globe.
Mike Madigan, operations manager for , a video production company in Ferndale, is director of the Detroit 48HFP. He said the Detroit contest, now in its fourth year, gives people an outlet they wouldn’t otherwise have.
“Making a film is usually a long process,” Madigan said. “But with the 48HFP, a lot of creative folks have the chance to come together, make a film in two days, and literally have it showing on the screen the following week.”
There’s no rule that says teams can’t have formal training, and it’s true that many of the contestants are film students or already working in the film or video industries in some capacity (like Rose, a producer at Grace & Wild Studios in Farmington Hills). In fact, there’s not even a rule limiting the amount of people on each team — a team in Albuquerque once had 116 people and 30 horses!
But most participants are amateurs.
“I’ve seen parents and their kids enter,” Madigan said. “It really ranges. The idea is that it’s open to all. And the amount of amazing stuff these teams come up with just blows people’s minds.”
The completed films, all between four and seven minutes long, will be screened over two nights at the Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak at 7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday (with all screening blocks featuring different films). Tickets are $10 per screening block, $16 for both blocks same night or $25 for all four blocks.
Winners will be named in various categories, with more than $7,000 in filmmaking equipment and software awarded as prizes. The audience choice winners will receive gift certificates from Ferndale’s .