48H Film Project: the filming marathon's winners are known!

The 48H Film Project is a wild, sleepless competition that was first launched in Washington DC in 2001. Based on a very simple concept, it requires from the participant's teams to make a short length film (which means to write, shoot, edit and score it) in a strict 48 hours time limit. The competition has now gone global with more than 3,000 films made in about 100 cities on the five continents – Jo'burg being the only African city, with the proud partnership of the French Institute. The SA winners have just been awarded, and may well be sent to the Cannes festival next year to present their work. Intofrench has met them to better understand their crazy adventure.

Hasty beginnings

The 48H Film Project in South Africa took place between Friday the 2nd and Sunday the 4th of September 2011. As everywhere else, the Jo'burg participants were asked to follow a well-established proceeding, a kind of an absurd ordeal that aims to extract the best of their creativity. Arriving on Friday night, they had to draw a genre (something rather unusual, like “film de femme”, “mockumentary” or “fantasy”), a character (“Samuel or Samantha Kumalo, chef”), a prop (“car keys” in this case) and a line of dialogue to absolutely place somewhere in the film (“do you expect me to believe that?” was this year's pick). Bearing in mind that the film length cannot exceed 8 minutes – a limit on which many participants crashed – the teams then engage in the challenge. In theory, they should take the first night to draft the script, the whole Saturday to shoot the film and the rest of the Sunday to edit it; but that is theory only and reality can prove more shaky. Winners of the “best 2011 film” award with their film “Child” (see the film here), Greg Cattell and Lara Cunha recall their experience.

1. Why did you participate to the 48H film project?
As aspiring film makers we saw the 48 hour film project as the necessary push we needed to just go for it and make a film. We felt that the platform was conducive to getting our work noticed and to provide a springboard for more projects and new endeavours. It turned out to one of the most challenging weekends of our lives. But it was also one of the most fulfilling. It gave us the opportunity to prove to ourselves that we not only had the desire to make films, but also the ability.

2. Once in the process of making the film, what proved the most difficult?


What proves most difficult in this project is time. At some point you have to abandon the pursuit of perfection, which for us turned into a positive as we couldn’t procrastinate or over analyse. There is no allowance for anything to go wrong. If something unexpected happens, you have to fix it immediately. We were incredibly lucky to have an amazing team of people working with us who gave their time and equipment and came together to produce a movie we are all incredibly proud of.

3. What are your plans now that you have won the competition?
A project like 48 hour can be as big or small as you want it to be. We always knew the potential of a project like this and we aim to use our film as a showcase of our abilities, to further our film making aspirations and hopefully get funding for bigger projects. Having recently both left television jobs to pursue “Making Movies”, winning this competition has given an incredible boost to our confidence.

Where it can take you

A global competition, the 48H Film Project will organize a unique screening of the best films (or “city winners”) once they are all known. Set in the USA, this event is the second stage of the competition, where another jury will be asked to rank these winning films. The 10 “best of the best” films will then be sent at the Cannes festival, where they will be screened at the “Short Film Corner”, an event specially dedicated to short-length films. A Jo'burg “city winner” with “Valentown” last year (find the film here), Luke Rous had the immense privilege to be short-listed among the 10 best films worldwide. He then went to Cannes to present his work to a professional audience. Intofrench asked him his impressions about the competition and the tips he would give to 48H film project wannabe participants.

1. How did it happen for you as soon as you finished your film last year?
Competing in the 2010 48 Hour Film Project in Johannesburg was a wild ride. Our film, Valentown, won the Jo'burg leg of this international competition and then went on to to compete in the Miami international Filmapolooza where it placed in the top 10 films of 2010 and was invited to the Cannes Film festival to participate in the Short Film Corner, the official short film festival at Cannes. The French institute of SA was kind enough to sponsor my flight ticket and I was able to attend the Cannes film festival which was an eye opening event. I met a number of international producers, watched a lot of beautiful films and was exposed to the international film business on a first hand level.

2. Did your award at last year's competition proved useful for your next projects?
In Cannes, I took the opportunity to scout out the festival and see how the whole thing operates so that when I return in the future with a feature film I will be better equipped to handle the international film market place. I made contact with a number of local film producers and with the help of the NFVF am busy completing an advanced course in international film finance and co-production. I have a number of projects in development and hope to produce my first feature film half way through 2012.

3. What would you recommend to the teams that want to engage in next year competition?
I would say, short films are all about an idea. You don't have enough time to convey a long story, just enough to take one sharp idea and look at it from a couple angles. Make sure you have some great ideas prepared – this will help the scripting process, which is the most important in any production. I would recommend the producers to be prepared with all aspects of film making – have some music prepared and rights free to insert, find a good editor and good equipment to use, get some locations organized so you can write your script around these – that way you are able to make the film fit into your criteria and not the other way around. But above all, make sure you're having fun: it comes through on screen. Then, in terms of what you could get out of the competition, at the very least, it's a great way to spend a weekend with your friends, pushing yourself to excel and and achieve a dream instead of just talking about it the whole time.

Text & Interview by Hadrien Diez