Shanghai's 48 Hour Film Project

Shanghai's 48 Hour Film Project

On May 20, teams of filmmakers from around Shanghai will start the challenging task of writing, shooting, editing and scoring a movie -- all in one weekend
Shanghai's 48 Hour Film Project -- main
A set-up this organized is just a dream for Shanghai's first batch of 48 Hour Film Project participants who have a mere two days to plan, shoot and edit their shorts.

The 48 Hour Film Project is a world-wide event that began a decade ago in Washington D.C.. This is the first year that the project, which takes place in 90 cities around the globe, will make its way to Shanghai.

Participant Brian Tam says that as soon as he saw the 48 Hour Film Project advertised, he knew he wanted to have a go at making a film.

“I have no real experience doing anything with movies, but my friends in the United States have participated in this contest and it's something I've always wanted to do,” he says.

Tam, who has lived in Shanghai for more than three years and works in marketing for a life-consulting company, adds that this represents an opportunity to test himself in a demanding and creative environment.

Let your creativity guide you because what is interesting about this project is that you don't have time to think about things and come back to them later.— Celine Sieu, founder of 48 Hour Film Project Shanghai

“I like to be creative and try different things -- it's something difficult and something I've never done,” he says. “It's kind of a dream to make a movie, something that I think everyone has thought of, at least in passing and maybe thought, 'I think I could do that.'”

Spurring Shanghai's creative side

It's this common thread that city producer Celine Sieu was counting on when she set out to bring the 48 Hour Film Project to Shanghai.

She says that in this competition -- whose participants are mainly students and enthusiastic amateurs, rather than professional filmmakers -- creativity is the most important asset, because everything else gets stripped away by the time constraints.

“Let your creativity guide you because what is interesting about this project is that you don't have time to think about things and come back to them later,” Sieu explains. “So I think there will be a lot of spontaneous creativity, which can be really powerful form of creativity.”

48 Hour Film Project's nuts, bolts and props

The kick-off event starts next Friday, May 20 at 6 p.m., when teams will be given a genre, line of dialogue, character and prop. These intrepid filmmakers will then have until 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 22 to complete a film that is between four and seven minutes long and incorporates these elements.

Although the format restricts teams from doing much preparation, Sieu says there will be little things they will be doing between now and the Project's kick-off to give themselves the best chance of completing the best film they can.

“They have to get their crew and cast together and know who will be doing what, they can do some scouting and secure some locations and they can also secure their materials, the camera and stuff,” she says.

I have no real experience doing anything with movies, but my friends in the United States have participated in this contest and it's something I've always wanted to do.— Brian Tam, 48 Hour Film Project participant

Team leader Paul Houlders has entered with colleagues from a Shanghai-based studio. Their company creates 3D computer graphics for games and Houlder says they are treating the 48 Hour Film Project as a (fairly original and very intense) team-building exercise.

“There's a lot of inexperience within the team here, so we're looking at each of the roles in creating a film, making sure the people involved understand what is required of them,” he says. “Everyone is very keen to make a film and expand on their experiences.”

It is a competition and the winner will be judged by a panel of professionals which includes Emmanuel Benbihy, the creator of the “City of Love” films “Paris, Je t'aime”, “New York, I Love You” and an upcoming Shanghai installment.

All of the films will be screened at the Xinguang Film Art Center on May 29, where the Shanghai winner of the 48 Hour Film Project will be announced. The winning film will then be judged against the best films from all other participating cities, and the overall winner will be announced in May 2012.

But for competitors like Brian Tam, the focus is firmly on enjoying the process and making it through the weekend in one piece.

“I know if I'm not having fun, my team won't be having fun, and if other people around me aren't having fun, it won't be any fun for me,” Tam says. “If it turns out to be a goofy movie, or if it's a serious drama, either is fine, as long as everyone is having a good time.”

48 Hour Film Project entries will be accepted through Saturday, May 14; filmmaking from 7 p.m., May 20 until 7 p.m., May 22. For more details see: www.48hourfilm.com/shanghai

Casey is a city/lifestyle journalist from Melbourne, Australia, who has been based in Shanghai since 2007.

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