Imagine the work that goes into creating a film: writing, directing, editing and scoring. Now imagine completing all of these tasks in 48 hours. That’s the idea behind The 48 Hour Film Project, which challenges filmmakers around the world to make a movie in a weekend. For the Des Moines event July 26-28, a group simply called “Team” will compete for the sixth time.
Group member Sarah Knoll Wilson says nothing can quite compare to the experience of the fast filmmaking. “There’s such an accomplishment at the end of that (weekend) to say, ‘Wow, look what we created,’ ” she says. “It’s cool because we have a final product we can be proud of.”
Each year, Team consists of about six core members, plus other volunteers who help out with everything from acting to composing the film’s score. Sarah’s husband, Nick, is a media production professional and the only member whose day job relates to filmmaking, though the other group members all have creative backgrounds.
At the beginning of the competition July 26, all the teams involved in the event will assemble and learn their assigned components, such as genre, prop and character. Then the frenzy begins as they work to develop a story. “Once we pull that genre, the wheels are turning,” Wilson says. “Our process is that three or four of us typically end up throwing ideas into the hat and writing. We try to set milestones—for instance, by 9 p.m. we want to have an idea agreed upon, at 10 p.m. have our actors called.” Still, it doesn’t always work out quite that neatly. “Sometimes the ideas come more quickly and sometimes you struggle,” she says.
Before the 48 hours begin, Team does prep work, such as securing a pool of actors and scouting various locations. They then spend all of Saturday filming, with post-production starting Saturday night and going through Sunday. Some team members don’t sleep at all, Wilson says, but somehow everything comes together by the end of the day in time for submission.
The first time Team competed in The 48 Hour Film Project, they won best of city and went on to the international event. Last year’s entry, titled “Make Her Smile,” told the story of a girl and her imaginary friends. The group’s assigned genre was fantasy, and the film followed the girl through her life, showing how her relationship with the imaginary friends changed over time.
“We’re a group that tends to lean a little more toward dramatic pieces,” Wilson says. She explains that it can be more of a challenge to make someone feel strong emotions in seven minutes, which is the maximum film length, than it is to make someone laugh. But they never know exactly what the film will be until it’s done, Wilson says: “It’s such a journey in a short amount of time, but every year it’s a different journey.”
All the films produced during the competition will be screened July 31 and Aug. 1, at 7 p.m. and 9:45 p.m., at Fleur Cinema and Café. Tickets are $10. A panel of judges will choose the best of the bunch, and the winners will be screened Aug. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Fleur; tickets are $15. Pictured: Members of “Team” on a shoot for a previous 48 Hour Film Project.
Written by Laura Billingsly