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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

But what about Allen Paschel, the guy who was unhappy with his genre? Well, he also finished his film, Tablet Racers, on time, thanks to “more planning than we ever had before” – without breaking anymore water mains. “We almost caused a fire, though,” he admits. “It was kind of scary.”

Not all teams were so lucky. Of the 36 that entered, 13 didn’t make the deadline, including Aimee Maynard, who, before this year’s project began, admitted she was feeling the pressure. She turned in her film five minutes late.

“We drew holiday/vacation. It was an easy [genre], so I was totally unprepared,” Maynard jokes. “We wrote the script early, and some of the team members [26 in all, far above the average size of 6-15] weren’t happy … so we struck on something else.”

But the writing delays put time pressure on filming, culminating in the walk-off of two of her directors of photography. However, she says she is still able to appreciate the fact that her film (the Christmas-themed Heart Strings), though tardy and therefore disqualified from receiving judges’ awards or advancing to New Orleans, was finished and will screen in the B group on Thursday.

“We’re happy with what we’re turning in,” she says.

And why shouldn’t she be? After all, thanks to years of being spoiled to a lengthier process and big budgets, would famous filmmakers be up for a similar challenge? In an interview for the DVD release of his 1971 classic Duel – a 74-minute movie that he was forced to shoot in less than two weeks and edit in three – Steven Spielberg admitted he might not be.

“I look back at it … saying how did I get all those shots in 12 or 13 days? How is that possible? If I had to go back right now and re-create Duel in 12 to 13 days, I don’t think I could do it – impossible,” he says. “I think I was so hungry back then; I was so ambitious; I was so excited about having been given this chance. I couldn’t do it that way again today, which means a lot of the spontaneity would be left out.”

Spontaneity is certainly something the 48 Hour Film Project doesn’t lack. Whether it lacks quality is something you will have to discover for yourself when you attend the public screenings. Group A, which includes Westgate’s and Paschel’s films, is at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4; group B is at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5, followed immediately by group C around 8:30 p.m. Tickets for a single group are $10; a pass to all groups is $25.

What next?

Of course, Westgate and the other filmmakers hope to win the Orlando competition and go on to future fame. But if they don’t, what can they take away from the project?

“What I’ve heard over and over is the fun of it, how much fun they have and how much they love making films,” Ward says, adding that he’s pleased all 36 groups eventually turned in films and will get to see their work screened.

Westgate agrees: “Painters paint, and they don’t necessarily show all of their stuff to galleries or sell it. It’s in them and it wants to come out,” he says. “I just want to make short films. I have no aspirations that the 48-hour film I make this year, or any year, is going to make somebody in Hollywood call me. But I like the collaboration process. I like working with new actors. I like getting something out that we can show people and be proud of. … For me, it’s another film I can put on my demo reel and show people what I can do.”

While his long-term future is uncertain, we at least know what Westgate will be doing in the coming days.

“After a good night’s sleep, the haze of the 48 had worn off and it struck me: I could just go outside and run across my lawn with my audio recorder [to fix one last audio problem],” he says. “The tweaks continue for the version we’ll get to put on YouTube after the premieres.”

And so Westgate the tinkerer is never quite able to let the project rest. The editing goes on, and the process never truly ends. But at least he’ll be able to eat and sleep a bit better now.

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