48 Hour Film Project returns to Seoul
Filmmaking junkies from all over town are gearing up to once again brave sleep deprivation, caffeine overload and wedding-level stress — all to make a movie in just 48 hours.
After successful runs in 2009 and 2010, the 48 Hour Film Project is making its way back to Seoul from Oct. 19-21, and space is already limited.
Started in 2001 by Mark Ruppert in Washington, D.C., the 48 Hour Film Project is an international competition in which — you guessed it — participants must make a short film in the span of 48 hours. Back then, Ruppert and his friends were simply curious about whether it was possible to make a watchable movie in 48 hours. Twelve years later, the Film Project is the largest competition of its kind with over 50,000 adrenaline-filled auteurs expected to make 4,000 films in 120 cities around the world in 2012.
The winning crew internationally will even get the chance to have their film showcased as part of the Cannes Film Festival's Short Film Corner in 2013 and be recognized as a breakout star of the event.
On Friday night, each team is given a character, a prop, a line of dialogue and a genre, all of which must be included in a brief 4- to 7-minute movie, then work tirelessly for 48 hours to submit the final product by the Sunday night deadline. That’s two sleepless days to write, shoot, edit and score an entire film. After a couple nights’ rest, the projects are then presented in a screening for the audience to vote on the winner.
To most, this experience may sound stressful. But for aspiring filmmakers, directors, producers, photographers, writers, actors, make-up artists, costume designers, stylists, builders, craftspeople and sound engineers, they simply crave it.
“The real payoff is seeing all your hard work on the big screen. That's a great feeling," said Sonny of Sonny Side Films, whose work on “The Blind Date” was Runner Up for Best Film in 2010.
"I think it was a great experience. It tested me in a lot of ways, many of which were unexpected,” he recalled. “I learned a lot about working with others, which is the foundation of any successful production. It's a lot of fun, but it's an amazing challenge, too.”
Of course, with such a torrid pace, part of the fun is embracing the madness.
In 2010, John Weeke, a film graduate from New York University, and his team Backsliders went to work on “Joon,” a tragicomedy about “a 75-year-old extraterrestrial whose father left him on Earth after he fought too much with his sister in the back seat of the family spaceship.”
“At one point — in the middle of November — the main actor took off most of his clothes, covered his exposed skin with damp sheets of sushi-type seaweed (the Project’s required prop), and then spun around screaming, ‘I can feel the music.’ I might like to forget that, but I simply cannot.”
But thanks to the seaweed stunt, “Joon” went on to win awards for Best Use of Prop and Character.
Additionally, there are awards for Best Directing, Best Writing, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Actor, Best Musical Score, Best Sound Design, Best Special Effects, Best Use of Genre and Best Use of Line.
While the opportunity to “make it” is what pushes many, it’s the rewarding, communal experience of moviemaking that keeps them coming back for more.
In 2010, Joseph Kim entered the Seoul competition as a producer and a writer. He met art director Young Lee at the event when the two joined teams.
"It was a great experience working together," he said.
Their team won Best Dialogue for the competition that year and the duo were inspired to take on a leadership role in the event. This year they are organizing the Seoul stop of the project with the hope of encouraging more artists to partake in this year’s festivities.
“I wanted to give back since it was such a wonderful experience and I wanted to do this for the expat and Korean communities to come together under a creative umbrella.”
In a city with such a vibrant arts scene, Kim sees events like the 48 Hour Film Project as necessary.
"I feel like both South Koreans and the international community have a hunger to showcase their creativity. I have met so many creative people in South Korea whether they be Korean or expat, and they all had no place to show their creativity to an international audience," he added. Not anymore.
Interested parties should register immediately, as the Oct. 9 deadline for registration is quickly approaching. Regular information sessions are held at the 48 Hour Film Project Seoul’s office near Gasan Digital Complex Station, exit 4, until Oct. 18, and a special Meet and Greet event — where solo participants can pick up a team — is set for Oct. 6.
In addition to the Cannes prize, Seoul’s winning team will see their film screened at an award weekend joining Best of City filmmakers from around the world. The winning team will also receive 5 million won from Megabox and a slew of other prizes.
All films will be shown at the Megabox movie theater in Dongdaemun from Nov. 1-3, with tickets available for 8,000 won.
It may be exhausting, but the experience is invaluable. At the very least, you could be the next screaming guy wrapped in seaweed.
The 48 Hour Film Project Seoul 2012
When: Oct. 19-21
Regular deadline: Oct. 9
Registration: 200,000 won per team until Oct. 9; 250,000 won thereafter until spots are filled
Visit the official site at 48hourfilm.com/en/seoul and on Facebook at facebook.com/48film.