“Why do we get excited about this? It’s just a bunch of bad movies.”
That was the question posed by a friend of mine as I was getting ready to go to the 48 Hour Film Challenge. And I had to pause. First, harsh: it's not all bad movies.
Some of them, in fact, are really good. Even the less beautiful looking ones are often clever and entertaining. But, yeah, there's a few you just have to sit out (a rigorously enforced 5 minute time limit helps).
By nature, 48 Hour is not a showcase for our film making community’s most polished work. Even the pros in the crowd have to rush to meet a crazy short deadline.
But like all local film events, any technical deficiencies on screen are made up by the fun of watching a whole bunch of people -- some you know, some you'd never guess -- do ridiculous, clever, ambitious, creative, and stupid things on film. And it's cool to see the dorm rooms, suburban streets and condo driveways of Anchorage as a backdrop. If I wanted to take in a superlative act of cutting-edge cinema, I would have gone to see Gravity in 3-D. This is a way better party.
But, having gone to the event three years in a row, I have to say the bad films are getting a lot less bad and the really really bad films are fewer. Even the cheesy horror ones have B-movie appeal. And the good ones… well, it really is impressive what people in this town can do in a weekend. The creative pool seems to be getting bigger; this is the fourth year of the Film Challenge, and it had more entries than ever before (25 teams entered, and 20 finished in time).
Some highlights this year included Electric Igloo's "Hit Women #69: A Snake In The Grass" -- a kind of pulpy, comic-book style film about two hot lady assassins with a job to do and a talent show to win. "Scape," directed by Scott Heverling and featuring Rachel Droege being stalked by a menacing figure, was one of the most effectively spooky and suspenseful films I've seen from a local crew.
Action/sci-fi isn't something people can easily pull off very well at the local level, but "Level 3" benefited from some stellar casting and pretty-looking overhead camerawork (Howdice Brown III and Nicholas Bradford took the top prize for the film).
I tried to take some notes, but I have found that drinking Broken Tooth beers has a disastrous effect on my short-hand/attention span. Here's what I got down:
- The wages of drunk driving are fatal encounters with murderous property owners
- Banjo picking will saves lives from petty thievery (or: always trust the life choices of homeless hipsters)
- More kidnapping
- Sexy lady assassins who can’t juggle
- Small airplane pilots who are chauvinistic, racist jerks have it coming
- Adults who act like children
- Cinnamon and carrots and crack cocaine
- I wish I could watch an episode of a show about Stephanie Wonchala and Matt Collins switching bodies every day of my life forever
Want to watch? Check out the 48 Hour Facebook page for updates on what's been posted to Youtube.