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The 48 Hour Film Project Returns!

Seven years ago, in the DC area, Mark Ruppert, Liz Langston and several other filmmakers participated in an experiment to make a film in two days. Last year 30,000 participants in 55 cities, including Buffalo, made the project one of the biggest yet. This is the second year for the project in Buffalo.
Last year, 19 Buffalo-based teams gave up a weekend in August in order to make a short film in less than 48 hours. Friday night, each team gets the same character, prop, line of dialogue and one of several genres, all to include in their movie. 48 hours later, the less than 7-minute long movie must be complete. Turn the film in on time, and within the week, the entries are screened, voted on, and a winner for the city is determined. Sounds like fun, right?
If you missed your chance to get involved last year, you’ve got another chance to participate in the 48 Hour Film Project on Friday, August 15. The Project’s return to Buffalo comes with a number of changes for filmmakers and audiences alike. After producing Buffalo’s first year in 2007, producer Eric Ayotte stepped down. Full Circle Studio’s Terry Fisher has taken the reins for the 2008 project, with a number of things he would like to see different this year. Still, he understands that “the first year is always the toughest.”
The most noticeable change Fisher will be making to this year’s Project is increasing the publicity surrounding the screenings of finished films. “Ninety percent of the audience for the screenings last year were comprised of the filmmakers themselves,” he explains. This year, Fisher would like to see more of the Buffalo community—filmmakers and otherwise—attend the screenings. Plans are being developed to expand the number of screening nights from just 2 on the week after production, to include an additional 2 the following week, and a final awards screening on the third week. “We really want to get people to these screenings,” Fisher said.
One way Fisher intends to bring people into The Project is by adopting a broader interpretation of what “Western New York” and “Buffalo Region” really is. As of now, 48 Hour Film Project guidelines recognize city boundaries to be about a 50-mile radius, which eliminates the possibility for smaller Western New York communities, such as Niagara Falls, to have their own shot at being a city winner.
Still, Fisher is not sure if there will be an increase in the number of teams without looking beyond the city limits, and the goal is to have 20-24 teams participating this year. “The novelty may have worn off, so where are these teams going to come from?” he asks. Searching for an answer to this question has led Fisher to begin reaching out to involve more regional communities.
Participants from Buffalo and the surrounding Western New York communities have been able to register for the competition online since late June, giving everyone about 8 weeks before genres are assigned and writing begins. After seeing how 2007’s teams fared with their final products, Fisher suggests, “Scout your locations. Plan on many more places than you’re going to need—have 10 places ready! You just don’t know, you might get a curve ball on topic.” The second tip he gives teams this year is a little more complicated: “Actors! Find actors! There were some great characters last year…and a little more subtlety always helps a performance, which is something you may only be able to get with more practiced actors.”
And finally, for the teams who participate this year, there are a number of other features being worked out. For instance, there will be a collected DVD of all the films, hopefully including any behind-the-scenes footage shot during the 2-day process that teams are willing to put in.
“[Behind-the-scenes footage] is something we talked about last year, and it was a great idea,” Fisher says. The awards screening mentioned above, is also being looked at as a possible forum in which to give the participants some feedback on their films. “Regulations warn against feedback,” Fisher begins, “but we’d like to at least recognize who won, and maybe even why. We’ll just have to see what we can do.”
Find out more about the festival, including specific venues, entry fees, dates and times, download legal forms, official rules, as well as how to sign up, visit:
Sign up now!

Written by David Steele

David Steele

Architect ( a real one, not just the armchair type), author of "Buffalo, Architecture in the American Forgotten Land" ( ), lover of great spaces, hater of sprawl and waste,
advocate for a better way of doing things.

View All Articles by David Steele
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