48-Hour Film Project Awards & Screening This Weekend

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Michelle Phillips
Photos, top to bottom: Wyatt Cook-Silvern, Audrey Accardo, Katie Hettenbach and Asiah Doyle at the 48 Hour Film Project premier; Guest watching the films; Michael Keeney and Katherine Thompson, organizers of the Madison event.

MIDDLETON–Two days, a genre, a line, a character, a prop, and a team of filmmakers are the recipe for a short film in the 48 Hour Film Project, a worldwide competition that tests a team’s moxie along with their editing, writing and filming skills.

The films, which recently premiered at the Bartell Theatre in Madison, are in the process of being judged and the award ceremony and screening has been scheduled for Aug. 17 at Capital Brewery in Middleton.

This year competitors were given a sponge as a prop, a character named Rob or Robyn Sarvis who is a travel specialist, and the line “He told me to ask you”  to be incorporated into the four to seven-minute films. The use of specific elements is to prevent people from pre-writing scripts.

Michael Keeney and Katherine Thompson organized the Madison event. Both have competed in the 48 Hour Film Project, but for the last couple years have turned their attention to running the competition. 

Competitors chose two film genres from a hat and can use one or incorporate both. “This year we had some combine the genres. Someone got spy film and musical, and were like ‘Oh we’re going to combine them,’” Keeney explained. 

“There are some really good films this year, “ added Thompson.

“There are members of various films who did all original music,” Keeney stated. 

Of the 29 competitors, 27 were juried in the contest. Those who go past the 48 hours are not qualified for the competition. “That happens every year, about 20 percent across the organization turn in late films,” Kenney said. 

Thompson said the average size of a fil crew is 12. “The smallest I’ve seen is two,” she said. 

Some of the footwork for the films can be done ahead of time, though. “You can work on scenes and lining up actors or animals (a past film included dozens of horses) ahead of time on the chance you could use them,” Keeney included. 

“But there have been fabulous films that have been completely filmed in a park,” Thompson said. 

The competition have categories for both adults and students, and both Keeney and Thompson encourage student filmmakers to compete. One of the student filmmakers, is Middleton native Katie Hettenbach. “They have their own category, but are eligible for either,” Thompson stated. 

Keeney and Thompson said the majority of their films come from Madison and Dane County, though there have been competitors from other towns as well. Each city has different criteria to prevent filmmakers from entering the same film in different locations. 

In addition to awards for writing, editing, etc., awards will be given to those that work behind the and indirectly of the filmmaking. “I think it will be nice to give those people a little nod, too,” Thompson said. 

Winners of the competitions have their films screened and judged at the 48 Hour Film Project international competition in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The winner of the international contest will go to the Cannes Film Festival in France. 

“Someone makes it every year–someone from the 48 Hour Film Project makes a career of filmmaking,” Keeney said.

At the screening this weekend, guest will pay $10 to see 10 films on an outdoor movie screen. There will be food trucks, music and awards. Music will begin at 5 p.m., awards at 6 p.m. and movie viewing will immediately follow. 

The event is open to all ages, but Thompson explained, “The films are unrated, so they could have language or adult situations.”

For more information about the 48 Hour Film Project or to purchase tickets for the Middleton screening, visit www.48hourfilm.com/madison-wi.

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