At the Nickelodeon Cinema Thursday, people will be lining up to view the results of the Portland 48 Hour Film Project, the annual filmmaking competition where teams of local filmmakers have just two days to complete an entire short film.
And, just because that’s not hard enough, participants don’t know what their film will be about until the competition begins, as every team is given a genre, line of dialogue and required prop right at the last minute.
It’s a frenzied, hair-pulling creative endurance test that, nonetheless, consistently produces some exciting, energetic films, and gives filmmakers an opportunity to gain wider recognition.
Still, why do it?
“It’s great because, while there’s that time constraint, you’re not pressured by a client paying you to do this. This gives you the opportunity to test yourself, but also to really experiment and be creative. To try things you wouldn’t try otherwise.” That’s Brunswick-based filmmaker Jennifer Widor Smith, who, in addition to being a professional filmmaker (her production company Moving Circle Pictures can be found at movingcirclepictures.com) is taking part in this year’s 48 Hour Film Project alongside several other Maine women filmmakers.
Their team, called The SheHive, is a veritable all-star, all-woman dream team, its members (including Smith, Andrea Nilosek, Charlotte Warren, Erin Enberg and Anna Gravél) all well-known Maine moviemakers. As we spoke, Smith, who will be acting as the group’s cinematographer, was just back from getting some exercise – something she recommends for any 48 Hour newcomers.
“I was just thinking about what is needed to create a successful film for the 48HRFP,” Smith added in an email, “and it comes down to the basic necessities … food/water, shelter, a good team and a great story.”
Additionally, Smith says lining up a number of possible locations, props and wardrobe choices (adaptable to the type of movie assigned) is key, as well as choosing teammates who are all on the same page. “Making sure your team knows what to expect is important, and working as a team. No egos.”
Smith credits the all-woman makeup of The SheHive to Warren, who wanted to bring together a number of the talented women in the Maine film scene.
“Charlotte sent out her recruitment memo, saying, ‘You haven’t been chosen because you’re the best ladies available, you’ve been chosen because you’re the best.’ ” That being said, Smith is excited for The SheHive to give woman filmmakers opportunities they might not have otherwise had.
“This was just a great opportunity to work with women – some I know and some I don’t – who don’t always have the support. It’ll give us a chance to be exposed to people other than those we usually work with. And hopefully it will be inspiring to other women and girls, too.”
Smith, who took part in the project back in 2007, is undaunted by this year’s challenge. “I feel like I’ve already benefited from this. In years past, I couldn’t make the time for it – having free time is so precious these days. This year, with Charlotte, Anna, Erin, Andrea, a bunch of great women I haven’t met yet – even though I’m scrambling around getting regular work done, I’m looking forward to the weekend. Being based up in Brunswick, I feel alone out here sometimes – making these new connections is a huge benefit already.”
WHEN: Screenings start at 6:30 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: Nickelodeon Cinema in Portland
COMING TO LOCAL SCREENS
Nickelodeon Cinema, Portland | patriotcinemas.com
Friday: “A Lego Brickumentary.” Everyone loves Legos, so here comes a documentary about Legos! Sure, it’s essentially a huge toy commercial (even more so than “The Lego Movie” if you think about it), but this film is riding in on some serious critical acclaim.
SPACE Gallery, Portland | space538.org
Monday: “The Damned: Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead.” Help SPACE celebrate their recent purchase of the current SPACE building by attending this screening of director Wes Orshoski’s necessarily brash rock-doc about The Damned, the first U.K. punk band to make waves in America.