This weekend Arkansas filmmakers will once again step into the international spotlight as part of the annual 48-hour Film Project. Area film professionals and hobbyists will compete against teams as far away as Amsterdam and Shanghai to create the best short movie. Teams have 48 hours to write, film, edit, and score their entries. Those that meet the deadline are screened and judged locally and the Best Picture from each city continues on to be judged against other cities.
With the confidence of a seasoned actress Grace Pitts of North Little Rock recounted some of her experiences with the Little Rock Film Project. She said, “I’m 12 years old and I have been a part of three productions. The first one I was in was called ‘Fire Engine Red’ and that was with Whiffle Powder Productions. It won first place in the Second Chance Film Festival and it was screened at Filmapalooza in Hollywood in 2012.”
Jeff Hahn, the producer of this year’s Little Rock Film Project, has been part of teams in both Dallas and Little Rock. This is his first year as producer of the Little Rock event and he’s set his goals high. “This year, probably more than anything though,” he said, “I want a Little Rock team to go to Cannes. I know the area has the talent and I know we can do it, so sign up.”
The Top 10 films from around the world will be screened at the prestigious film festival in France in 2016. In order to be considered movies must be completed within the time limit and meet specific criteria. All teams must include several elements in their films: a character, a line of dialog, and a prop, all of which are announced at the kickoff event immediately before the timer starts.
Teams also draw the genre for their film randomly from a hat. Most are the familiar genres of comedy, sci-fi, romance, or horror, but occasionally a team will draw something more difficult. Jason Willey of Little Rock has participated for the past six years. In 2013 he joined together with friends to form Flokati Films. They drew a genre considered challenging by most in the competition.
“So we got a wild card that was operetta,” Willey described, “so that meant everything in the entire thing had to be sung. And for your first year putting a team together that’s not exactly the thing that you want to get.” Despite the daunting genre, Flokati Film’s operetta about a plumber in love won Best Picture in Little Rock that year.
In 2014 they beat out 30 other teams and took home Best Picture honors again with the comedy “Sensitivity Training” starring Zoltar the Fortuneteller. Willey says winning is nice but the creative experience is the reason he and his team enter. “We have a blast doing it every year,” he said.
Hahn said the best resources for those interested in creating or joining a local team could be found on the city’s 48 Hour Film Project web page: http://www.48hourfilm.com/little-rock-ar.
A screening of the best films from the Arkansas teams will be held on August 4th at the Ron Robinson Theater.