In the short film “Slipping,” a hardboiled, aging undercover cop walks into a quiet bar and chats up a woman he suspects as working as a madam. The woman laments that, while she once specialized in wish-fulfillment, “no one dreams anymore.”
For “Slipping’s” filmmakers, however, as well as for the rest of the entrants in this year’s 48 Hour Film Project, whose movies screened last Saturday night at NOCCA’s Lupin Theater, that sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth.
“Look at all these people, man,” said 48 Hour Film Project producer Alex Garcia, referring to the masses waiting excitedly to enter the 300 seat theater to see their work and that of the other participants up on the big screen. “It’s great because they can actually get people together that they know and say, ‘hey, look what we did. This is on in a real theater on a real screen. It’s fantastic.”
With 36 teams entered this year, three screenings were needed Saturday to get through all the films.
“It’s our fifth year in New Orleans,” said Garcia, “and it’s a landmark year because in such a short time, we’ve had some really, really strong progress from our filmmaking community.”
In the final screening of the night, viewers were treated to a comedy about a woefully mismatched married couple who live in a trailer; a musical/Western about an aging man who sees himself as the last sheriff in a present day of deteriorating morals; a mockumentary about some wannabe gangsters whose robbery attempt goes awry; and a sci-fi flick about an eccentric earthling who claims to be an assassin from the future who finds his equally eccentric soul mate.
There was also a horror film about a marriage counselor with some extremely unorthodox methods and a thriller/suspense short about a man who gets locked in his new employers’ building at night, only to find his new bosses are conducting some more sinister “business”in the wee hours.
And as per the rules of the Project, each of these shorts was written, produced, edited and scored in 48 hours.
While teams can form in the weeks leading up to the filming weekend through a series of “mixers,” very little other preparation can be done until the actual start of the 48 hours, when the teams converge at the same time to draw their specific genre from a hat. In addition, all of the teams are given a prop, one line of dialog, and a character that they all must somehow incorporate into the film. (This year, the prop was a cupcake; the line of dialog: ‘Try it. What have you got to lose?” And the character(s) was an interior decorator(s) named Thierry and/or Tammi Bison.)
Getting all of their final instructions at the same last minute “preserves the integrity of the project,” said 48HFP Producer Wendy Hajjar.
“Some of the films had a few little technical issues that they had to keep in because that’s what happens in 48 hours – that’s what the competition centers around,” Garcia said. “But what’s really cool is that so many people were able to make so many cool films in just a short period of time.”
“We didn’t have any major issues,” said Christopher Wilson, part of “Slipping’s” cast and crew – most of whom have known one another for years and have done production work for their church. The space they were using, however, was in their church, and they had to break down their set for services for a few hours. “That made things a little rough.”
The 48 Hour Film Project began 10 years ago in Washington D.C., and has since spread worldwide. On the same weekend that crews were crisscrossing New Orleans filming, the same was happening in Orlando; San Jose, California; and Delhi, India. Even Paducah, Kentucky has gotten into the act.
The final chapter in this year’s competition is the awards ceremony, scheduled for 8 p.m. on August 30 at the Blue Nile. For more information, visit 48hourfilm.com.