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Cover 09/04/2013

48 Hour Film Project returns to Orlando

Local filmmakers race the clock for a chance to win money and exposure at Cannes Film Fest

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Hans Christianson and TL Westgate

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TL Westgate, Jay De Los Santos and Corey Steib

He’s clearly learned from his previous experiences, which include directing the audience-award winner and overall runner-up for 2010, Beachwatch, a mockumentary and Baywatch spoof.

“The biggest challenge is writing a script that’s shootable in the allotted time,” Westgate says. “You can’t overwrite. You can’t be too ambitious with such a limited amount of time.”

Like Westgate, local filmmakers Allen Paschel and Aimee Maynard have participated before.

“It’s fun and extremely stressful at the same time,” Allen says. “Story is the biggest challenge. Second is definitely editing. … I typically don’t sleep until we are well on our way to having a final draft.”

Adding to Paschel’s sleepless nights last year were endless disasters, starting with the assignment of Western, an often-difficult genre, and continuing until about half of his 16-member team dropped out. His chances of success were dampened further when a water main broke at his shooting location, but he still finished the film.

Maynard’s experiences have not been trouble-free either. “Last year the people in my group kind of disappeared, so I went to a meet-up and met six guys from Full Sail [University], and they had a group, so I joined them,” she says. “[This year] I’ve been feeling pressure because we have a lot of professionals. Very serious people are coming on board. Normally, I just, like, don’t care – we’re gonna make a good movie or make the best we can, and have something nice for our portfolio.”

Rob Ward, the Orlando project director since 2010, says the biggest problems he’s seen are clashing egos and computer problems. But for him, the problems are different.

“[My biggest challenge] is trying to find local sponsors who will help out with the cost. It’s pretty much nonexistent,” Ward says. “My challenge pretty much starts when they drop off the project, because then I have to edit them all together.”

A Project play-by-play

Upon Ward’s suggestion, I “embedded” with a group participating in this year’s challenge. I chose Westgate’s team (Creative Inlet Films) a few weeks ago, and now it’s Friday, Aug. 23, at 7 p.m. I’m waiting nervously with them to discover our assignment. (Though I’m shadowing and not providing input, I feel emotionally invested, too. How could I not be? After all, I’d been hanging out with Westgate and other filmmakers at multiple meet-and-greets in July and August, which fostered team-building and introduced filmmakers to actors, and vice versa.)

After receiving the informational packet – Westgate had paid his $140 entry fee weeks before – and watching other teams draw genres, Westgate is ready to do the same. “I get nervous pulling the genre,” he confides. “My heart is beating.”

He draws buddy film. “OK, we can do this,” the director says, obviously relieved he got something he could turn into comedy, his preferred genre.

Not every team is as happy. Paschel draws fantasy and is clearly not in a magical mood. But he, like all team leaders except for the one who drew “musical or Western,” chooses to keep his pick and not opt for one of the nine slightly off-the-wall wild cards, which include such genres as martial arts, zombie and B-movie.

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