Teams of filmmakers compete to make short films in the 48 Hour Film Project July 15-17 | Events

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The 48 Hour Film Project can be a wild ride. Teams of competing filmmakers raffle off a genre and have 48 hours to write, shoot, edit and submit a seven-minute film. Items that need to be included, such as a character name and a specific accessory, are also revealed at the start to prevent teams from overdoing it in advance. In such a short time, anything can derail a film, from equipment failure to bad weather disrupting a shoot.

Despite having competed in more than a dozen 48-hour competitions, actor and crew chief Matthew Judd had a wild card thrown at him before the New Orleans competition last year, but it improved the movie “After Life Crisis”.

“‘After Life Crisis’ kind of changed my whole life,” Judd says. “I quit my job and wasted my life three days before doing ‘After Life Crisis’. It was the most meta personal project I’ve ever done. It changed the course of my life because that – with my co-leaders on this team – we started a film production company and we (now) make movies under that banner, Ghostwright Media.

Ghostwright Media is one of approximately 25 teams taking part in this year’s 48-hour competition, which kicks off on Friday, July 15. Completed films must be submitted on Sunday and they will be screened at the National World War II Solomon Victory Theater. Museum on July 22. There will be a screening of winners in various categories and audience favorites on August 20 at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation Center.

“After Life Crisis” was a mockumentary in the style of “The Office” or “Parks and Recreation”. Judd played the role of Ben, a ghost stuck in a dead-end job, tired of the daily drudgery of scaring his assigned lair. His boss, Ted Notella, told the camera: “You feel like he just wasn’t there.” Ben even gets tripped over by a psychic he thinks is a hack.

“After Life Crisis” won Best Picture at the New Orleans competition, along with awards for Best Writing, Editing, Sound and more. As a local winner, it was then screened at Filmapalooza, with top entries from over 100 other cities around the world with 48 Hour Film Projects.

The Ghostwright team decided to develop the concept for the film. They have found an investor and will soon start filming a web series based on it. This year, the Ghostwright team competed in 48-hour competitions in Atlanta and Austin and could do one in Savannah, Georgia. The group has also completed a film which it is submitting for the Louisiana Film Prize.

“By the end of the year, we could have five or six shorts, a web series, and maybe produce a TV show as well,” says Judd. “None of this was planned 12 months ago.”

Most of the teams are led by people from the film industry. Sean Gerowin and Aleece Langford, founders of Backyard Shed Films, lead their team, which will number around 20 people and have two film crews. Langford is directing this year.

The team met last week to brainstorm and catalog the locations and props they have. This year, that includes a giant Greco-Roman head bust of a Mardi Gras float and access to a professional prop store.

But Gerowin says it’s important to keep an eye on the less tangible aspects, such as managing the process and not letting sleep deprivation lead to bad decisions.

“Our most limited resource is time,” he says. “In 2013, we had the Abita Brewery as a filming location. We were excited – like adults in a beer store. We wanted to film everything. But we spent too much time in production. We gave it to post-production, and they didn’t have enough time. We returned it with a minute to spare.

Later they came back and touched up their film and uploaded it as an editor’s cut.

William Gray Fagan and his team at Fagan Films are also planning to remake one of their most successful films, “The Ballad of Rose Mae.”

Back in 2018, Fagan really wanted to draw the musical as a genre, but he was determined to make one no matter what they got. They drew a disaster movie.

The team ended up making a film about the 1918 flu epidemic, and the story is told entirely in song as people gather at a funeral and mourn a lost loved one. There is no dialogue. It won Best Musical Score, Best Actor Ensemble, and Audience Favorite. It is posted online on Fagan’s website and on YouTube, and it was also selected for inclusion on the Louisiana Movie Channel Online.

The core of the team is made up of high school friends from Baton Rouge, and Fagan says getting together for the competition is like summer camp for them. He graduated from Chapman University Film School in Southern California last year. For his senior thesis project, he brought a crew to Louisiana to film an early Jazz Age musical, “Moonlight Dancer,” last year. Since then, he’s made social media shorts for HBO Max and then launched his own career as a content creator on TikTok.

Fagan and his friends are preparing for the 48 Hour film project, and he brings in some Chapman friends.

“It will be a rude awakening for them,” he says. “Usually they have weeks to plan things out.”

For more information on the 48 Hour Local Film Project, visit its webpage.


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