48 Hour Film Project co-producers Gabe Wardell and Paula Martinez.

By Clare S. Richie

What did you do last weekend? Eat out, run errands, and read the paper? The weekend of June 12-14, hundreds of Georgia filmmakers will write, shoot, edit, score and master a completed movie. They’re competing in the 14th Annual Atlanta 48 Hour Film Project (48HFP) designed to encourage filmmakers, from newbies to veterans, to show their stuff.

At the Friday evening kick-off hosted by production sponsor PC&E, teams receive the three required elements that must be included in each of the 48HFP films: a character, prop and line of dialogue. Elements for 2014 were included a character named Dr. Oliver or Olivia Sandman, the prop was a peach and the line of dialogue was “I’m gonna tell you a secret.” After each team draws a genre (like comedy or sci-fi), it’s on. Teams must submit their 4-7 minute films Sunday evening.

“Our goal for 2015 is one hundred teams, ” said Paula Martinez, co-producer of the project. This is nearly double what she and co-producer Gabe Wardell started with in 2009. Atlanta is now the 4th largest 48 HFP out of 130 cities in the world, trailing only Paris, Los Angeles and Washington D.C.

The competition relies on key sponsors like Atlanta Movie Tours, All About Props, NorCostco, Tunewelders, and the Georgia Office of Entertainment – “who recognize that the local crews and actors making short 48HFP films will be staffing the big-budget Hollywood films and TV shows being shot here,” Martinez said.

Unlike other film festivals, every completed film will premier on the big screen at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, June 22-25. The screenings are open to the public, appropriate for tweens and older and cost regular movie-ticket prices.

Audiences vote for their favorites then a jury of industry professionals meet to identify the winners of various categories. On July 16, at the Best of Show and Awards Ceremony, the results are revealed and the winning films are re-shown to filmmakers and fans. Best Film winners advance to the International Finals at Filmapalooza in Los Angeles to compete against winners from around the world.

“The 48 Hour [Film Project] was a beautiful whirlwind of a weekend!” said Kristina Adler, Jump Cut Collective director and producer. Her team’s film, “Backtrack,” took home the 2014 Best Film honors.

Adler recalled scrapping their dramatic, dark route halfway through the shoot and went for something unexpected and funny with a time travel scenario instead. The film was submitted with about 15 minutes to spare until the deadline.

“After we won the audience award in our first round, one of the biggest production companies competing reached out saying that even outside the competition they wanted to help support female directors and writers, which really meant the world to me,” Adler said.

Backtrack went on to be screened at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles at Filmapalooza. “It felt like we managed to magically skip some steps and years to screen there,” Adler commented.

“If you think you want to make a film, the 48 Hour Film Project is the perfect entry way, because it’s accessible to everyone,” Martinez said.

For more, visit 48hourfilm.com/atlanta.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.