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48 Hour Film Project: Intro

June 17, 2008

The 48 Hour Film Project (48HFP) has been around for 8 years now — pretty much as long as I’ve been involved in filmmaking. It’s grown from a local thing (according to Wikipedia, it started in Washington, D.C.) and grown into a worldwide, year-round touring event.

For those who don’t know, here’s how it works: You are given a genre, a character, a prop, and a line of dialogue, and you are told to make a film that contains all of those elements.1 The film must be produced, from start to finish, in 48 hours.2

I’ve basically wanted to do this ever since I started doing films, but never been able to for whatever reason. I lacked resources, a team, the confidence, the time. But this year I knew it was coming up and I thought “Goddammit, I want to do it.” We had just teamed up with Ski-ter and Anthony and I was jazzed to fucking shoot, so I checked with them, they were all down with it, and I entered us in the competition.

This is going to be a couple of blogs, and I think I’m actually likely to make it happen. 48HFP is like an anti-procrastination boot camp; I’m a lazy guy in general, truth be told, and I need to get my ass kicked sometimes to keep moving. I never work better than under a deadline. So every time I thought “Ehh, I’ll do this later” I immediately thought back “Motherfucker, there is no later. Cut the fucking scene!”

I remember reading a screenwriting book once that carried that message, essentially. It was talking about how writers used to be contract employees at a studio, who went in from 9 to 5 and just wrote for 8 hours. None of the pansy artistic whims we get away with now, where as long as you finish sort of near the deadline you’re okay. You sit your ass down and you write every day if you want your paycheck.

Ultimately the message is: saying you don’t want to do it now is stupid, because you’re not going to want to do it later either. You’re never really going to want to do it. So man up and just fucking do it. That’s something I knew but it’s good to be reminded every so often.

I will be writing more and talking about this weekend’s journey in the days to come. Be sure to tune in.


  1. I’m pretty sure that the early iterations of the project only provided genre and either a prop or a line, but not all of the above. Also, previously I think everyone competed in the same genre, now everyone has different ones that they draw from a hat.
  2. You are allowed to cast performers and lock down locations beforehand, and you are also allowed to use pre-existing music and sound effects provided you own the rights and/or they are royalty-free. But the writing and shooting and finishing must all be within the 48 hour period.

From → filmmaking

2 Comments
  1. Robin Alexander permalink

    Boy, do I know about that laziness. I’ve been wanting to start on a couple of scripts for a couple of fan films lately, but just pushed it away. What I really should do first is get the first draft of my play finished, though. Anyway…
    Good luck in the 48HFP. Damn it for not being anything like that here!

  2. Daniel Broadway permalink

    I suggest you shot and finish RVD3 in 48 hours. Heh.

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