“6:15”, winner of the 2019 Austin version of the 48 Hour Film Project (Courtesy of Ten House Productions)
Grab your camera and crew: On June 10, filmmakers will gather at Kick Butt Coffee to kick off this year’s Austin version of the 48 Hour Film Project, an event and organization committed to giving filmmakers a head start. -taste of the film industry in just one weekend, and there’s still time for you to sign up.
The 48 Hour Film Project strives to create an inclusive environment that encourages representation from all communities. “The 48 isn’t just for people who have the training, and it’s for anyone who doesn’t even fit into the Hollywood mold,” said Austin project producer Keira Marti. “I would love to see filmmakers from all types of communities here. I would love for everyone to come and make a movie.”
Originally launched in Washington, DC, in 2001, the 48 Hour Film Project now takes place in 130 cities around the world, including five in Texas. Austin — one of the first cities to take over the project — will celebrate its 20th anniversary with the organization this year, allowing for an even smoother return to in-person screenings after COVID-19.
By removing the multi-million dollar budgets and power imbalances that often prevent small artists from finding stardom in Hollywood, the project allows local artists to tell their stories and even reach film industry representatives at the search for new talent. While it attracts filmmakers from all backgrounds and levels of experience, all participating artists are united by the common goal of celebrating local cinema. Marti, who joined the project as a volunteer in 2015 before becoming a producer three years later, said: “I call it a Lone Star mindset when it comes to filmmaking, it’s a lot less about executives, and more on the real realization.”
Although participating teams enjoy full creative control over their films, a few guidelines exist to measure the completeness of each film and generate ideas at the start of the 48 hours. On Friday night, teams of varying sizes will select a random gender from a hat, and producers will assign them a random character, prop, and line to include in their film. Teams must include all assigned elements in their films or risk disqualification.
“I call it a Lone Star mindset when it comes to making movies…” –Keira Marti
Judging takes place on June 20 and 21, when all eligible films are screened for live audiences. While a different selection of judges work on the project each year, producers often bring in recruiters or directors who could further the careers of local filmmakers. For Alyne Harding, a project producer in Austin since 2013, it gives artists the opportunities she dreamed of in 2012, when she was a working mom trying to get hired. “This project spurred other careers for people who were ready to give up,” she said. “People who didn’t have much faith in [themselves] see what they can do. Other filmmakers told me it would be their last attempt and then they win or they make the top 10.”
Many artists have learned the ropes of filmmaking at the 48 Hour Film Project (The Hobbit the short film “The Girl Is Mime” by star Martin Freeman even won the competition in 2010). Winning bands could be selected to compete at Filmapalooza – a 48-hour festival where participants can attend workshops and compete against other contestants from around the world. A handful of Filmapalooza winners are selected to present their work at the Cannes Film Festival. Although Austin’s 48 Hour Film Project hasn’t sent any bands to Cannes so far, Marti and Harding hope the chapter’s 20th anniversary this year will give attendees a little better luck. “Making a 48 movie here is like being part of our family,” Marti said. “You can see it in every one of our screenings where people talk to each other and network.”
48 Hour Film Project, Fri-Sun, June 10-12.
Launch event Friday, June 10, 6 p.m. Kick Butt Coffee, 5775 Airport #725. First screenings on June 20 and 21, AFS Cinema, 6406 N. I-35 #3100.
Regular registration ($168) ends May 31. Late registration ($188) ends June 10. Info about 48hourfilm.com/austin.