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A look inside the 48 Hour Film Project, screening at the Charles Theatre

June 25, 2013
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4085884566“You have one minute!” producer Rob Hatch shouts from the door of Hampden’s Chesapeake Systems as the final contestant in the Baltimore 48 Hour Film Project rushes to drop off his finished project on June 16. With 10 seconds to go, the last-ditch filmmaker abandons his car in the middle of West 33rd Street, door ajar, and deposits his movie into Hatch’s hand before breathing a sigh of relief. [Photo of The Media Baby team from the 2012 48 Hour Film Project by Mackenzie Smith]

Such is the way of the Film Project. From June 14-16, 47 Baltimore-area filmmaking teams were required to write, shoot, edit, and score a 4-to-7 minute movie. With only a two-day window to produce an entire short film, Hatch explains, this frantic contestant’s experience is not unique. “There’s often a big crush at the last minute. That’s a big part of it. The competition is about endurance, it’s about stamina, it’s about creativity. It’s all of those things combined into one project.”

If the past has been any indication, Baltimoreans certainly aren’t lacking in vision. One of last year’s submissions — a comedy about a woman’s encounter with a bizarre new neighbor called Welcome to the Neighborhood — was shown at the Cannes Film Festival, and Hatch says that he is continually impressed with the creativity of the Baltimore submissions.

“It sounds corny, but the bar gets raised every year. If you’ve been around Baltimore, you know that there’s just a real sense of community pride. We had one movie last year where one of the characters was a yoga instructor/crabber. You’re not gonna see that character many places other than Baltimore. There really is a certain camaraderie you can’t get anywhere else.”

Baltimore teams of all ages, sizes, and levels of experience must test their ingenuity with both a given genre for their film and competition-stipulated plot elements. Each team randomly picked the genre for their film -– from ‘B Movie’ to Musical and beyond –- out of a hat, resulting in a completely spontaneous production process. Contestants were also required to include a cupcake, a tour guide (named Abe or Abby Tuesday, gender depending), and the line “Let me introduce you to a friend of mine” in their films.

“One of the most fun things about the Project is to see how many different ways people will use the same element, Hatch says. “Take the prop, the cupcake – It could just be someone walking through the frame eating a cupcake, or it could be the missing cupcake of Kalamazoo or whatever. It’s all about the creativity.”

Those interested in the final products can attend the 48 Hour Film Project screenings June 25 and 26 at the Charles Theatre. Participating teams are divided into four groups, with Groups A and B on the 25th (at 7 and 9 PM, respectively) and C and D on the 26th. Tickets are $10 at the door and can be pre-ordered at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/profile/2722  .

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