The antithesis to the bloated, big-budget commercial fare that dominates the summer multiplex, the annual 48 Hour Film Project has done exactly what its creators envisioned when they founded it in 2001: empower filmmakers of every stripe and experience level to get off their asses and create something from nothing.
The brainchild of a pair of independent film producers in Washington, D.C., the project now happens in nearly 100 cities (more than half of which are in the U.S.) on four continents. The premise is simple: Filmmaking teams have 48 hours (7 p.m. Friday to 7 p.m. Sunday) to make a short film four to seven minutes in length in which each team makes use of the same prop, character name and line of dialogue. Genres, which are drawn from a hat just prior to the project's Friday start, range from futuristic sci-fi comedies to crime dramas. The finished films — which range from sub-par to sublime in every way imaginable — are typically shown to an audience in a given city within a week of their creation. (This year’s local screenings take place Saturday and Sunday at the Cincinnati Art Museum.)
Christian Appleby, organizer of the local project, says this year's edition went well, with most of the 41 teams turning their films in on time.
“Everyone in the Cincinnati filmmaking community, which is fairly large, wants to be making movies, but it takes a lot of work to get a crew together and make a production happen,” he says. “The 48 Hour Film Project generates such an interest from the local community because it is a great motivating factor to get people together and make a film. Knowing there is a guaranteed screening in front of an audience is also a strong plus.”
Each city's winning film moves on to a national screening later in the year, which might then lead to a screening at the Cannes Film Festival in France. (Two Cincinnati winners have screened at the fest in recent years.)
“Cincinnati has always been one of the top cities in the 48 Hour Film Project, and I am sure this year will be no exception,” Appleby says.