For those in film school, the project is like a crash course and a final exam, jam packed into one restless weekend.
This is the Miami edition of the 48 Hour Film Project, an international event that gets play from local filmmakers from Israel and Johannesburg to Las Vegas, Nevada. The one constant -- you get 48 hours to complete a short film from scratch.
As teams form at News Cafe in Miami for the launch, they wait to find out what prop they need to use, what line of dialogue must be included in the film and finally what genre they will be expected to produce.
Ranging from western and horror to musicals, everybody is crossing their fingers, banking on their strengths.
While the local edition of the project is dubbed 'Miami', in reality all of South Florida comes to participate. Local producer Cathleen Dean has made it a point to bring in filmmakers from as far north as West Palm Beach.
"That's why I choose to screen the films in Hollywood, because it's kind of a middle point," she says. "There is a tremendous amount of talent up there," noting that there are several strong teams coming from Delray Beach.
In total, 40 teams from across South Florida are participating.
One of them is Inno Films, a group of about 15 students from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. Team leader Kevin Duplan says this project is a major way to showcase South Florida film industry talent, providing an incentive for companies to shoot in the region.
"I'm one of the people who says 'I don't want to move to New York or L.A. to have a film career.' I would like to stay here. I was raised here," he says.
For this project, the only thing Duplan knows for sure is that they don't want to get a musical. Please, anything but a musical.
Silvio Vega is a Spanish professor at St. Thomas University and this is his second year participating as a hobbyist, team leader and producer for team Key Lime Video. Last year he produced a science fiction film but was disqualified for turning it in about a half-hour late. This is typical: about 20 percent of project films are disqualified for being late, although ultimately all of them will be shown at screenings this weekend in Hollywood.
Vega says the problem last year was a dispute with the director. Tight deadlines tend to make tempers flare. But this year he is taking on a heavier load himself, along with a smaller crew and revised approach.
"Tomorrow is all production and then after production, we go immediately into editing. Last year we went to sleep, and that was a mistake… We're going to sleep after planning."
After a little bit of mixing and mingling, Dean gets on stage to announce film genres for each team as well as production elements required for each film. The following elements draw mixed reactions from the crowd:
- Films must feature a button as a prop.
- Films must include the character Larry or Lorrie Linton, a hypochondriac.
- Films must include "that's not what my mom told me" in the dialogue.
Duplan and Inno Films get-- surprise surprise-- the musical genre but immediately set their sights on film de femme with a wild card.
Vega and Key Lime Video wind up with another sci-fi film.
And with that, the teams take off.
To see what they came up with in 48 hours last weekend, you can attend screenings on Friday and Saturday nights at the Hollywood Central Performing Arts Center.