August 9th, 2013

Admiral Ackbar

Let's Make Some Art! Portland 48-Hour Film Project Edition (no, I didn't work on one)

Once again, I am impressed with what the people I know do.

Last weekend was Portland's weekend for the 48-hour Film Project. The name may say it all, but I'll say more: teams get a genre and guidelines for a short film that they must then write, film, edit, and add sound effects and music to in two days or less. Whether they're assigned a romantic comedy, a suspense thriller, a science fiction film, a dark comedy, a slice-of-life drama, a zombie flick, or something else, they must work into the film a certain line of dialogue, a certain kind of prop, and a certain character name. And...go!

They did.

I arranged my Thursday so that after work I could drive to the Hollywood Theater to see several of the films that teams made, including two teams with people I know. (An earlier program that I couldn't get to had at least one team of friends of mine who'd finished a film -- AND EARLY, to boot!)

(Not Safe For Work heads-up on that film, by the way: Mary-Suzanne Lamkins told me "I swear a lot, and there's drinking and also bashing Canadians.")

The batch I saw had to have a prop with the number "10" (or "X"), the line "That's not what they had in mind," and a environmental activist character named Kirk or Kasia Nordenstrom. That gives the teams a chance to find creative ways to use the requirements, and likely helps limit how much pre-weekend prep a team might do, were they unscrupuluous and shady. (Don't make me glare sternly at you. None of this year's teams made me do so.)

"Appetite" (by Fetus in Fetu Productions, including Those-I-Know Dawn Manske, Zach Van Buuren and Telo Walden) is about the most matter-of-fact zombie apocalypse ever..part of it happening in Dawn and Zach's backyard called the Dutch Hutch, because Zach's Dutch and they keep chickens back there. (The chickens do not make cameos.) It's sad what happens to the zombie, is all I'll say. Oh no, now I feel wrong for even vaguely spoiling a seven-minute film.

I liked "Appetite," and like the team that made it I'm glad the fest re-showed it, because the first showing had technical problems that made the image and audio freeze up repeatedly. It played much better when it played properly.

My other favorites of the batch I saw were "Constant Projections," a moody and disturbing horror story set in a bar (and boasting a Jacob's Ladder-style special effect that was one of the team's hardest challenges, and they pulled it off); the funny "Your Last First Date," where two guys find that a woman's asked both of them out to do a reality show-meets-Dating Game sort of challenge; "Plant Wars," with my favorite tone-shift of the night (it finds a way to go from reverential to silly and explode-y that works!); a romantic comedy musical that becomes a horror-comedy musical called "Lilith"; and a disturbing tale of a kleptomaniac called "More." Each short had its pleasures; I won't name the one I least liked, because why hate on a short unless it's offensive (which it wasn't)? But the best can be a hell of a punch. And we in the audience voted for our three favorites; winners from this group plus winners from other groups will be shown Wednesday, August 21 at 7:30 PM, also at the Hollywood. I won't be able to make it, but I'll check in on the project on Facebook to find out what won.