Cameras will be everywhere this weekend as film crews shoot short comedies, horror flicks, dramas and other genre pieces in the New Orleans edition of the 48 Hour Film Project. On Friday night, teams draw a genre, character, prop and line of dialogue and then have 48 hours to write, shoot, edit and deliver a seven-minute film.
The competition attracts many people involved in the local filmmaking industry. John Swider of the production company The Swider Bros. has competed for six years and uses the opportunity to hone his skills. "I get to practice a new technique every year," Swider says. "One year we practiced aerial shots; we had a helicopter ... another year we had underwater cinematography. ... This year we're going to use GoPro cameras. ... It's a chance to practice new techniques with new equipment."
The competition has plenty of challenges besides the team's own exploration with techniques. "You have a lot of unknowns," Swider says. "Usually when you make a film, you know what your plot's going to be, you know what the dialogue's going to be, you know who your cast is going to be, but in this, you have to plan for the unknown."
Ben Matheny's EFI Productions (www.efiproductions.com), has participated in three competitions, and its film Sunny Side Up was nominated for best New Orleans film last year. "It's cool to be able to treat (film) as a sport," Matheny says. "It turns something that you take very seriously into a fun way to be involved in the film community."
The 48 Hour Film Project started in Washington, D.C. in 2001 and has expanded to more than 130 cities on six continents. Winning films from each city advance in regional competitions until there is an overall winner, which is then screened at the Cannes Film Festival. Completed films from the upcoming competition will be screened July 24-27 at the National WWII Museum.
Team registration for the 48 Hour Film Project in New Orleans is open until July 18. Visit the website (www.48hourfilm.com/en/neworleans) for details.