48 Hour Film Project movie-making competition comes to Minneapolis this weekend

The 48 Hour Film Project will hit Minneapolis this weekend, allowing both auteurs and amateurs to engage in some good-natured competitive movie making.

In 2001, the 48 Hour Film Project began as a local challenge among friends. Since then, it has grown into one of the world's largest film-making competitions. This year, the project is touring nearly 125 cities and challenging more than 50,000 people to make an entire film, from writing to casting to filming to editing in only two days.

Minneapolis participants can enter the competition for a fee of $175 via the 48 Hour Film Project's website through midnight tonight.The event will kick off at 6 p.m. this Friday, June 8, at the Riverview Theater.

According to the 48 Hour Film Project's Minneapolis producer Ryan Stranjord, participants will draw from a possible 14 genres -- including comedy, horror, romance, and the oft-dreaded Western -- and then have the next 48 hours to create a four- to seven-minute movie. Each team must incorporate a competition-designated line, character, and prop into their movie.

The rules are lax, however, when it comes to the number of people in each group. "We had a team consisting of just one man last year, and one of our biggest teams had 65 people that just took over St. Paul and were shooting everywhere," says Stranjord.

This year's competition will end on Sunday, June 10, at exactly 7:30 p.m. (even one minute of tardiness is grounds for disqualification) at a venue still to be decided. The best films will be screened June 12 to 14 at the Riverview Theater.

According to Stranjord, the project is ideal for filmmakers who want to make new networking connections, as well as people who are simply looking for something fun to do with their friends over the weekend.

"It's an equalizer," says Shane Nelson, a professional filmmaker here in Minneapolis who participated in the competition last year. "There are rules that you can't spend a ton of money and so it's really about having fun."

Nelson and his team won awards last year for their film, a period piece set in the '80s. He enjoyed scavenging for random elements that made the movie seem more authentic.

"We found someone who had an '80s Porsche and we popped our collars and used an over-the-shoulder VHS video camera for filming," he says. "Metaphysically, it was about respect and the difference between generations."

Ben Lifson was a film student at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design who still had a lot to learn when he entered the competition last year. Still, his team won for best cinematography, and he says they are planning on drafting this year's strategy based on what they learned the hard way last year.

"I was a producer last year, and this year I'm going to focus mostly on editing," Lifson says. "And we're going to have a team specifically for shooting and for writing so that we can take turns resting over the 48 hours."

The only thing Lifson is nervous about is possibly drawing "Western" as a genre. "It's difficult to do in such a short amount of time, with the costumes and all that."

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Riverview Theater

3800 42nd Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55406



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