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The benefits of participating in a 48hr film festival

Updated: May 14, 2023

Can you imagine writing, shooting, and editing a short film in just one weekend? The 48-Hour Film Project does just that, bringing local film teams together to see who can make the best film under such challenging parameters. These competitions are great opportunities for actors or anyone interested in the film industry. This blog will cover the benefits of joining a 48HFP team and also offer exclusive insight from Ron Tomaino, the city producer for the Albuquerque chapter.

As the largest filmmaking competition in the world, the 48HFP has over 115 participating cities. Anyone interested in participating must first form a team and pick a leader to register their group before the deadline. The week of the competition starts on Friday, June 9th, when all the teams meet up to learn what kind of film they get to make. Everyone is given the same character, prop, and line that has to be implemented at some point in each film. Then, all the teams are given two random genres to pick from before everyone is released to start writing.

“What we encourage the filmmakers to do is to try their best to incorporate these elements to help elevate and tell their story,” Tomaino said. “One thing we always suggest is that when you’re making these films, take these requirements seriously because it’s always about the challenge of building a script around these elements.”

No matter what happens over those next 48 hours, the film has to be finished and submitted before 7:30 pm on Sunday to be considered at the screening. Awards will be given out for all different aspects of the films and the best film from each participating city will go on to be screened at the filmapalooza film festival which will be in Lisbon this year.

Another great bonus of joining a team is that it can quickly get you footage for your demo reel. Since your team doesn’t know the guidelines until the challenge starts, you can’t always guarantee the writers will be able to fit in a role for you. If your team agrees to use you as an actor before you start, it's more likely you’ll get some screen time, but 48s aren’t just about getting screen time. It’s about teamwork, efficiency, and the commitment to completing a project from start to finish in such a short timeframe.

“The benefits for actors is the experience of being on a set and also being in that type of panic mode that sometimes actors may feel the pressure of on a real production set,” Tomaino said. “We give that real-life experience of time management which is important and also the idea and learning experiences of what works and what doesn't work in film.”

For people who are interested in being on a team but don’t know anyone with the appropriate skills to work with you, Tomaino has been holding meet and greet events with Ron Weisberg at Story Quest Studios (SQS) a local acting school that is a sponsor of the 48HFP. These events are a great place to meet team leaders looking to recruit more actors and crew as well as an opportunity to learn more about the film challenge if you haven’t fully made up your mind yet.

“What’s great about Story Quest Studios is that they pride themselves in not only training actors and getting them that knowledge and training that they need to be successful in the industry, but they also pride themselves in filmmaking as well,” Tomaino said. “So the partnership has been fantastic because we’ve been getting this mix of not only (48HFP) veterans, but people from the acting class who are new to the city or new to the 48-hour film project who just want to get a taste of what its like to be on a film.”

The next meet and greet event with SQS will be on May 19th at 6:30 pm, and another meet and greet on May 28th. Tomaino encourages anyone interested in film or acting to register, regardless of their training or experience. He is even having a workshop on shooting and editing a 48-hour film project which will be at the Albuquerque Film and Media Incubator on May 20th at 10 am. It also allows you to network with the people on your team. After the challenge is over, you may find that everyone on your crew works really well together which can easily lead to future productions with each other outside of the 48-hour film project. It’s also fun to try making your own short films in 48 hours to practice for the next official 48HFP in your area.

Whether you're a skilled filmmaker ready to wow the world with your art, or just recently joining the industry and trying to gain more experience, being a part of a local 48HFP is a great opportunity for anyone willing to challenge themselves and create something to be proud of.

For a full list of local events leading up to the challenge, or to register, you can visit the 48 hour film project website and learn more.

Daniel Ward is an actor, writer, and contestant finalist of Broadway Bound Live Season 2 and can be contacted on Twitter @wordsofward34 or Instagram @wardledorp


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