Sunday, August 21, 2011

Jason watches the San Joes 48 Hour Film Project

So I've seen a few "Best Of" presentations of 48 hour film project films before at film festivals. It always sounded like an interesting idea. Teams of filmmakers compete. At the start, they're told some required elements--a character, a prop, a line they must use. Then they all draw from a hat to find what genre they have to use. Basically it complicates things just enough that they can't have an idea all scripted out to start. Then 48 hours later they turn in their completed film. I've never actually made a film (okay, I've shown up on screen a couple of times, but I've never been behind the camera), but I've met enough independent filmmakers to know just getting a film completed (and making it somewhat watchable) is a challenge. Add the required elements and a deadline and it sounds impossible. Nevertheless, the "Best Of" films I've seen have turned out pretty good, easily on par with short films I've seen in festivals where filmmakers spent months or even years getting everything together.

But I'd never seen the whole presentation before. Sure, the best films are pretty good, but I was sure there had to be a lot of garbage to wade through to get to the good stuff. So for the first time I went to see the whole section of 48 hour films...and I was blown away by the quality of (almost) all of them. Now this was the San Jose competition, with the complete films playing last Thursday at the Camera 12. There's a different San Francisco competition (many teams compete in both), and competitions in 90 cities around the world. Winners of this competition go on to compete with winners from other cities.

The rules this year in San Jose: Required character was Ian or Ilene Jeffers, a "recycling expert" (it was really amusing how some teams interpreted this rather liberally). Required prop was a chair (some teams chose to feature the chair as a plot point, most teams simply had a scene where a character sits down). And the required line was, "Give me some kind of sign" (again, most teams were pretty straightforward with this line--either an exhortation to God or pleading with a person who may be unresponsive, but some got pretty creative).

Anyway, I'm not going to go into detail on the individual films (at least not in this post). As an audience member, I did have a job that night. For each program (there were two programs, each with about a dozen or more films) choose your three favorites. Don't rank them, just mark three on your ballot. Three shall be the number of the counting and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out....

Oops, sorry, I slipped into something there. Anyway, for each program I had to choose my three favorites...and I couldn't. I didn't turn in an audience award ballot, it was just too hard. I really don't envy the job the judges have in store for them.

In other news, I've been invited to be a judge (hence not describing all the films, lest I signal my preference for any). So I have two screener DVD's of all the films (minus the ones that were turned in after the deadline, although those did show Thursday night). I'm working through them very critically and will turn in my judge's scorecard. Awards night is September 8th, and you can all find out who won then.

Total Running Time (estimated): 210 minutes
My Total Minutes: 247,138

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