Glendale and Burbank are well represented this weekend as hundreds of wannabe Spielbergs gather in Hollywood for the 48 Hour Film Project, a yearlong contest that travels to more than 80 cities. The participants must make a six- to eight-minute movie, from start to finish, in 48 hours.
Sean Hilferty of Burbank calls his team "Wondergeez" because the graphic designer is 49, well past the age most aspiring artists make a splash in Hollywood. For Hilferty and his wife, Viki, it's more about having fun than winning the top local prize.
"If we turn out a good film, great, we'd love to turn out a good project, but the main thing is to have a good time doing it," Hilferty said.
Each producer draws three items out of a hat: a genre, a line of dialogue and a character name. All three items must show up somewhere in the film. Last year Hilferty drew the holiday genre.
"We did a Halloween version of 'A Christmas Carol,' " he said. "Our main character, Alexis, has been championing the Halloween spirit since 1283. An old guy, Sam Hein (name derived from ancient Celtic and Druid festivals) has given up on the Halloween spirit. He has forgotten that he once was the Celtic Lord of the Dead. Sam's friends are all lords and have hired Alexis to revive his Halloween spirits. Sam comes around after being shown what his future will be; otherwise, a nagging wife always screaming at him."
Hilferty didn't win, but said he learned an important lesson for this year's contest.
"To start outputting a little early," he said. "No (waiting until the) last minute before taking the print to the theater, grabbing a Post-it note when you turn the film in. I ran in the door, got the next to last Post-it."
He's thinking twice about taking two 90-minute naps, as happened in 2009.
Elisa Morse, 27, of Glendale, made it into the Top 12 in 2009 with her dark comedy about married ghosts. Her group, "Team Wobbly Leg" also won for Best Screenplay.
"One of the really great things is the instant gratification," she said about the event. "It's so much fun, and you really find that since it's all volunteers, the people who sign up are so passionate about what they do. It's such a fun challenge. Winning isn't something you can focus on. Our goal is to tell a great story that we're proud of."
Morse recently appeared in the CW dramedy "Easy Money," starring Laurie Metcalf, focusing on the misadventures of a family of loan sharks.
There was ghostly timing for this year's 48 Hour Film Project. The teams got their assignments Friday the 13th at Cinespace on Hollywood Boulevard, and turn in the finished product at the same location Sunday evening.
All of the films will be screened for the public and a panel of judges the following week. The Los Angeles' Best Film winner gets $3,000, a bunch of filmmaking equipment and a trophy. In addition, the top 12 features will be shown at the Miami International Film Festival next March.
The project was the brainchild of Mark Ruppert and his creative partner Liz Langston. They started with a single contest in Washington, D.C., in 2001.
"Liz made a couple of short films in 1999 and 2000, and I was looking around for something else to do, my next short, and it wasn't working out, so I came up with the idea of having a competition … making a film in 48 hours," Ruppert said. "We ended up with 10 teams that first year, and there was no maximum time limit. The 16-minute film was actually the best of that competition."
But the time constraint became necessary when dozens of entries turned into hundreds, and the event spread to cities all over the world.
Ruppert never looked back. His company has four full-time employees.
"There's nothing like the evenings of the screenings, to see the creativity that people have," he said. "Through this competition we are able to get filmmakers out there following their passion."
What: 48 Hour Film Project Screenings-Los Angeles entries
Where: Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex 1332 2nd St., Santa Monica
When: Aug. 24, 25 and 26
Time: Check website
Contact: For tickets http://www.laemmle.com/viewtheatre.php?thid=3; For information, http://www.48hourfilm.com