Participants share their experiences competing in the 48-Hour Film Festival


Editor’s note: Bailey Britton, Julie Freijat and Jared Shuff, contestants in the 48 Hour Film Festival, are also on the Collegian’s Editorial Board.

This year’s 48 Hour Film Festival red carpet event was a little bit different, much like the competition itself. The teams ran into some snags during the competition — both with themselves and with mother nature.

During the virtual red carpet event, viewers took part in a Zoom poll to pick their favorite film before the winners were announced.

First place went to the film “All the Same,” created by the Sharp Shooters, a group composed of Norea Menold, junior in fine arts; Cassie Wefald, senior in history and anthropology; Jackson Berland, sophomore in theatre; Skyler Lindquist, senior in English; and Maria Apel, junior in psychology.

Second place and audience favorite went to the film “Character Development,” created by Maple, Milo and Misty Productions, a group composed of Brooke Biasella, senior in communication studies; Julie Freijat, junior in mass communications; Bailey Britton, junior in journalism and English; Jared Shuff, junior in secondary education; Connor Balthazor, senior in political science; Kylie Ledford, senior in mass communications; and Bernard Giefer, junior in mass communications.

The festival committee puts together three elements that participants must include in their film: a prop, a phrase and a location. The prop chosen this year was a loaf of bread because it was relevant with the current COVID-19 times, Katherin Karlin, English professor and 48 Hour Film Fest committee chair, said.

“We [the] committee came together and put our heads together and floated some ideas for the prop. We wanted to do something that everybody had access to, so I didn’t want something … that might be inaccessible to students,” Karlin said. “Bread seemed kind of vaguely pandemic-related because a lot of people [were] baking bread at the beginning of the pandemic.”

Both the committee and the participants had difficulties with the required phrase. The committee eventually settled on, “Welcome to the new normal.”

“The trick with the line is to make it specific enough for it to be a challenge for students to figure out how to incorporate it into their script,” Karlin said.

Some competitors just had a hard time fitting the line into their scripts and the film in general.

“I think there were great elements this year. They were easy to include,” Biasella said. “The line was a little tough just because when we were writing our script, we were struggling on where to put it, but everything else was very easy.”

The groups had 48 hours to write a script, film footage and edit the film — some groups were running on empty. For the Sharp Shooters, the lack of sleep gained them the top prize.

“We wrote, wrote, wrote from Thursday to Friday afternoon, took a little bit of a break, started filming that night at around 5 p.m. and didn’t stop until around 2 a.m.,” Berland said. “We came back, edited till 6 or 7 a.m., went out to Aggieville and got the shots we needed there, came back around noon and edited until 6 p.m. In total, I think that all of us collectively got maybe three hours of sleep the entire weekend.”

The time limit and the three elements weren’t the only challenges participants faced. An unexpected rainstorm put a damper on some of the groups’ filming plans.

“We gave them their elements and said ‘Okay, you have 48 hours to create your film,’ and [then] we had the biggest thunderstorm of the year,” Karlin said. “I was just thinking, ‘Oh no. This is going to be miserable,’ but I was so impressed how some of them just worked that into the movie and really made it work for them.”

Many groups reworked their outdoor shots to keep themselves and their equipment dry.

“It rained on Saturday all that night, and we had a lot of shots outside, so that was tricky,” Daniel Lopez, senior in mechanical engineering, said. “We had a tarp over the camera to prevent it from getting wet.”

Lopez’s group — Chimps With a Camera — created the film “The Thesis.” Other group members included Kyle Simons, senior in public relations; Caleb Penrod, senior in chemical engineering; and Haley Nelson, sophomore in humanities.

Other groups ran into location issues, like getting locked out of buildings and stuck in the rain, waiting to get let in.

“We showed up to Chapman Theatre when it was pouring outside, and we had to waste an hour of filming trying to figure out how to get into the space in the first place,” Berland said.

Maple, Milo and Misty Productions ran into another challenge right away, as several group members were recently vaccinated and dealing with symptoms from the shots.

“Our biggest challenge was probably [COVID-19],” Biasella said. “Four of the seven of us got vaccinated, so people were really tired and not feeling 100 percent, and I remember that I made the executive decision to make it so that we had times to sleep. It put us on a time constraint because people wanted to sleep, but we only had 48 hours.”

Some teams weren’t even built until the competition started. Lopez had a few people lined up to take part in his film as soon as the prompts were released that Thursday, and continued adding to his team as the weekend progressed.

“I joined pretty much right at the buzzer,” Lopez said. “I was trying to figure out people that would want to do it and from there we had a real quick brainstorming sesh. That Thursday I started texting some friends to see if they’d want to participate and just be in the movie.”

Some groups were basically composed of strangers, like Maple, Milo and Misty Productions. Despite barely knowing one another, they used each person’s experiences and skills to benefit them in the competition.

“We were a bunch of people who wouldn’t normally hang out, but we made an awesome film,” Biasella said.

Other groups had never worked on a project like this before, but they used their individual skillsets to strengthen the group as a whole.

“I have been on a lot of creative teams, and this was the most seamless one I’ve ever been on,” Berland said. “We all knew our strengths and weaknesses and we all knew how to work with each other well.”

Encouraging others to take part in competitions like this, Biasella said they aren’t as difficult as one might think and it’s easily accessible to anyone with a camera or a phone. It doesn’t even have to cost much.

“This was super fun, and people don’t realize how easy it is to make a film and how you can do it on no budget … all you need is a camera or even a phone,” Biasella said. “We maybe spent five dollars on our film.”