The rules are simple and, creatively, more guiding than most other film festivals with requirements for entry. The team behind the festival gives each team of filmmakers a character they have to use in the film, a line that must be said or written, a prop that must appear on screen, and choice of two genres. Then, the filmmakers write, shoot and edit a film that can weave these aspects together. Oh, and the catch? All of this has to happen in 48 hours.
The 48 Hour Film Project is a series of festivals that take place internationally, with a slew of cities hosting their own across the United States, including Albuquerque, where the competition begins Friday. While it may seem geared toward adults, and it is, there are two teams of teenagers, including one I’m a part of. We are no stranger to the late nights and adrenaline rushes.
Due to the pandemic, the event is taking place semi-remotely this year, which is beneficial for my team, as we won’t have to waste precious time commuting to Albuquerque or throw down a couple hundred dollars on hotel rooms.
Having a team this year feels really surreal to me — like when you want something really badly, you work hard and it finally manifests. No one has ever told me I have to “pay my dues’’ in the film industry, but being 16, I still feel like I have to prove my worth before I walk in the door. Otherwise, the way I walk (usually trying to curl in on myself), talk (almost exclusively in reference to outdated memes that only my generation knows about) and how I look (like a 16-year-old) make me seem like I’m not worth the extra laps someone has to run to hire a minor. So if I want experience, this is one of only a few options.
This is the third year I’ve wanted to compete but the first year I’m actually doing it, because it was the first time I’ve been able to put together a team of friends who share my passion for film and could follow up with collective action.
“It’s [the 48 Hour Film Project] definitely my kind of thing,” Siena Tan, a student at The MASTERS Program and one of my teammates, said via email. It’s technically my third time working with her in the writer/director and editor/producer duo. “I want to be a film editor,” Tan added, “[I’m] almost 100 percent sure of it.”
“I have wanted to get into film for many years,” said actress Dakota Rose, one of the actors on my team. “After hearing about the opportunity 48HFP presented, I was immediately drawn to it.”
I wrote a piece about six months ago on wanting to be a filmmaker in a state full of opportunities for it, and being too young for the vast majority of those opportunities. Now, it’s amazing to realize I have a team of like-minded friends composed of Tan, Rose and others, and a weekend to make a movie.
The unspoken final step noted by many 48HFP veterans is showing up to school/work/life the next day, magically completely rested. However, if it wasn’t worth it, people wouldn’t keep coming back.
The film project closes with screenings Sept. 25 in Albuquerque’s Guild Theater, or via Zoom, depending on your comfort level as a patron or participant.