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Guerilla filmmaking contest draws dozens of New Orleans crews

‘Guerilla’ filmmaking can be described as working far outside of the normal studio system, often setting up, shooting, and breaking down scenes in a matter of minutes.

And then there’s the 48 Hour Film Project.

On Friday, August 12 at 6 p.m., dozens of filmmaking crews will converge on the (art gallery/performance space) Big Top 3 Ring Circus, where they will each draw a specific film genre out of a hat – romantic comedy, documentary, sci-fi, road trip, etc. The teams then have exactly 48 hours to write, shoot, score and edit a short (4-7 minute) film.

Getting all of their final instructions at the same last minute “preserves the integrity of the project,” said 48 Hour Film Project Producer Wendy Hajjar. “They’re not supposed to do any creative work ahead of time.”

Still, a lot can be done before the 12th, Hajjar said, such as scouting locations, lining up costumes, acquiring permits, etc.
The teams are also formed in advance over the course of several “mixers,” such as the one last Thursday at the Big Top.

Participants put on a colored sticker for the role they wished to play in the project – green for team leader, yellow for talent (actors, writers), red for tech, and blue for those simply looking to volunteer.

Aspiring actor Mike Franklin, of Covington, said he wanted to add to his demo reel, while 27-year-old insurance agent Jacob Regenbogen just “figured it would be fun. I’m not worried about winning. I’m not worried about how other people are going to look at the film. I’m worried about having a lot of fun with my friends.”

A scene from ‘Alien Affair’ by the Two Meter team in the 2008 48 Hour Film Project in New Orleans (

Vaughn Greve, 24, was participating in her second 48 HFP, having served as first AD (assistant director) in a short documentary two years ago. “We kept it really simple,” said the southern California native, “and that’s what you need to do.”

“It’s great because you can see people show off different talents,” said 48 HFP Producer Alex Garcia. “You end up finding out that people can do so much.”

After the films are turned in on Sunday evening, Aug. 14,they are judged by local film critics, producers, actors and filmmakers based on the films’ artistic merits, technical proficiency and adherence to the assignment. And a week later, they will be screened for an audience at NOCCA’s Lupin Theater.

“Last year we operated about 30 teams and we screened to about 700 people,” said Garcia. “It was fantastic.”

2011 marks the fifth year in New Orleans for the 48 Hour Film Project, which began 10 years ago in Washington D.C., Garcia said. It has since gone viral. On the same weekend in New Orleans crews will be rushing around town shooting films, crews will be doing the same thing in Delhi, India; Orlando; San Jose, California; and even Paducah, Kentucky.

There is still time to enter this year’s 48 Hour Film Project. The next networking social will be Friday, July 29, at Chickie Wah Wah, 2828 Canal Street, from 5 to 8 p.m.

For more information on the 48 Hour Film Project, visit


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