48-Hour Film Project offers local filmmakers 5 to 7 minutes of fame

by Keith Barber

360-degree panorama made on the set of “Dance Again,” a General Pictures production for the 2009 48 Hour Film Project in Greensboro. (Photo by Tom Lassiter, Westridge VR)


One of the best scenes in Tim Burton’s 1994 classic Ed Wood is when Johnny Depp, in the role of the title character, convinces B-movie producer, Georgie Weiss, to allow him to write and direct Glen or Glenda — the epic tale of a male cross-dresser. Weiss tells Ed he has three days to write the script and three days to shoot the film. The audience laughs out loud at the mere thought of making a film in only 6 days.


The 48-Hour Film Project challenges filmmakers from around the world to write, shoot and edit a film in only two days. The 7th annual Greensboro 48-Film Project will be held June 11-13. A meetand-greet session will be held this Friday, May 14 at 6:30 p.m. at the Greensboro Cultural Arts Center in Room 106. Early bird registration ends on May 17.

On June 11, filmmakers and their teams will meet at a predetermined location and receive their marching orders, said Iris Carter, Greensboro producer of the 48-Hour Film Project.

“They form teams and the teams all converge one weekend ,” Carter explained. “They’re given a genre and three elements that must be included in the film — a character, a line of dialogue and a prop — and they take off with 48 hours to finish their film. It could be a musical, a silent film, a comedy, a horror film, but the three elements are the constant for all filmmakers.”

Carter said the project offers both amateur and professionals an opportunity to prove their mettle and improve their filmmaking chops. Typically, 48-Hour Film Project veterans will start pulling their teams together before the competition and begin doing as much preliminary work as possible before the kickoff meeting. They’ll spend Friday night hammering out a script, and dedicate Saturday to filming their 5 to 7-minute short film. Editing normally begins Saturday night and continues all day Sunday, said Carter.

“They seem to have a wonderful time; there’s a lot of excitement about it,” she said.

Aspiring filmmakers should not be daunted by the challenge, said Carter.

“Some filmmakers might themselves amateurs but they’re coming out with good quality work, too,” Carter said. “I don’t want them to be intimidated because we have all levels of filmmakers. It’s a lot of fun and its good to get that experience under your belt. You can put [your film] on YouTube, beef up your r’sum’, and enter it in other competitions.”

It takes guts to be an artist, Carter said, and the 48-hour Film Project underscores that universal truth.

“The fact that you even attempted it, people will tip their hats to you,” she said. “But it’s fun, that’s the main thing. People gain a lot of experience with it, because you don’t have that many opportunities to throw something together in 48 hours.”

After the 5- to 7-minute masterpieces are completed, there will be a public screening at Carousel Cinemas in Greensboro June 16-17. Depending on the number of teams entered, the films will be divided up into a specific number of programs, and audiences will pick their favorite. All of the films are sent to a panel of judges and are eligible for awards like Best Use of Dialogue, Carter said. Three weeks later, the 48-Hour Film Project will screen the Best Of winners at Carousel Cinemas and the filmmakers will receive their awards. The winners are eligible for national competition. National winners have the opportunity to screen at the Cannes Film Festival.

Last year, 35 teams of filmmakers produced shorts, and as many as 45 teams have competed in the past, Carter said. Carter encouraged interested filmmakers to register early so they can begin building their teams.

“There is a way to get hooked up if you’re interested in doing anything on the project,” Carter said. |

wanna participate?

Anyone interested in participating in the 48-hour film project should visit: