Wednesday, December 1, 2021

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Guest Commentary

48 hour film project


Three-dozen hobbyist filmmakers compete in the 13th annual 48 Hour Film Project, a hurried competition to write, film and complete a short film.

Tiny Explosions’ director/videographer/team captain Patrick Boberg films Chuck Lines’ Pontiac Bonneville for “Snap Back.” Jon Hoffmann mans the boom mic.

Tiny Explosions’ director/videographer/team captain Patrick Boberg films Chuck Lines’ Pontiac Bonneville for “Snap Back.” Jon Hoffmann mans the boom mic.

It took 15 years for James Cameron’s “Avatar” to reach the silver screen. The 30-plus teams competing in the annual 48 Hour Film Project: Des Moines have two days to come up with an idea, write and shoot a short film.

The format is simple. The kickoff event started at 6 p.m. on Friday, July 21 at the Des Moines Social Club (DMSC). At the kickoff, every team draws two typical film genres that their film must adhere to — they can pick either genre, or combine the two.

Then, one stock prop (a rubber band), character (a poet named Freddy or Fiona Brown) and a line of dialogue (“You heard what she says.”) are announced that each team must somehow fit into their movie.

The timeframe is restricting, but at least the team Tiny Explosions has a system.

After getting the prompts at 7 p.m., about 20 film-lovers converge on one Tiny Explosions member’s house for brainstorming. They spit out proposals (some doable, some absurd) until 9:30 p.m., before settling on a single concept by around 10:30 p.m.

“We waste a few hours drinking beer before we actually get to writing,” team captain Patrick Boberg says. (Boberg also writes CITYVIEW’S monthly Tech Talk column.)

The rest of the night is spent bullet-pointing the movie’s script, which they film the following day. Sunday is strictly for editing, with the final product needing to be delivered to the Des Moines Social Club by 7:30 p.m., “and not one second later,” says the DMSC’s Katie Ortman.

In the same house as Tiny Explosions, a kids’ team works on its own film in the basement.

“I like the idea that an eighth-grader is ahead of us right now,” Boberg says at about 9 p.m., consuming a chip smothered in guacamole.

This year, Tiny Explosions made a movie entitled “Snap Back.” Its plot was inspired by Bill Murray’s classic comedy “Groundhog Day.”

Shooting started a little after noon on Saturday. A crew of about 15 labored through the sweltering 90-degree heat on a low-traffic stretch of 52nd Ave. alongside Walnut Woods State Park in West Des Moines.

Boberg first heard about the 48 Hour Film Project in 2005, the first year it was hosted in Des Moines, but wasn’t able to participate until 2011. Now, it’s a yearly event for him and his friends.

“I fell in love with the idea,” he says. “It was the coolest thing ever.”

The 48HFP Best Of Screening is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Aug. 17 at Fleur Cinema (4545 Fleur Drive, Des Moines) where the best films, which premiered on Aug. 2-3, will be shown to the public. The No. 1 film will compete with other cities’ 48HFP winners, and the top 10 will be shown at the Cannes Film Festival. ♦



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