Roll ’em and hurry

By Gabi Moore

Filmmakers try to beat the clock during 48/5 Film Contest

The average movie can take several years to grow from an idea to a completed project, but the filmmakers participating in the East Lansing Film Festival 48/5 Film Contest have only 48 hours to finish a film — and they don’t even know the plot until they start the competition.

Each team of filmmakers gets 48 hours and four requirements: a specific line of dialogue, a location and certain props must be present in their film, as well as a predetermined genre. They need to work quickly to come up with a clever and film-worthy script that includes each of them.

East Lansing Film Festival head Susan Woods, who is organizing next weekend’s competition, said the best teams write the script quickly and come up with a creative story.

“Some people will come in with a preconceived idea and then they just want to manipulate the elements into what they’ve already decided,” Woods said. “That could be picked up very easily by the judges, so we really encourage people to be as original as possible.”

The Winter 48/5 Film Contest takes place Feb. 19-21, beginning at 6 p.m. Friday and ending promptly at 6 p.m. Sunday. For preregistration information, entry forms and the official rules, visit

The first prize is $100, the second prize is $50 and third prize is $25. Winning entries will be screened Monday, Feb. 22, at Michigan State University’s Wells Hall.

Errol Allmacher, the creative services director at WLNS, has been on both sides of the competition. He has participated in five of the contests, as well as judging the 2009 fall film contest. He was the winner of last year’s winter competition with his comedy “Tell Me a Story.” He said the contest is a good way to motivate filmmakers to really buckle down and get a film done.

“Once you submit your application the contest is on, you can’t back away from it,” he said. “It forces you to do something in a short amount of time and see how creative you can be and what you can come up with. It’s an intense thing to find out a couple of random elements on a Friday night and suddenly come up with a clever way to use them and secure locations.”

With only 48 hours, the pressure is on for students to concentrate on what’s important and get the film done quickly. Kate Gille, who will participate in this year’s contest after winning the fall competition, said it’s a fun challenge.

“We just sat down that night and just hammered out what we were going to do, stayed up all night and stayed up all night again,” she said.

The winter competition is the most popular, Woods said, sometimes attracting as many as 24 teams. Everyone from eighth graders to professionals in the film industry gets involved.

Allmacher said that in judging the competition, he thought incorporating the required elements into an interesting story was the most important part.

“People have come up with some really clever stuff, things that you never would have thought of,” he said.

48/5 Film Contest

entries will be screened at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22 Room B104, Wells
Hall Michigan State University Screenings are free.

(517) 980-5802 or (517) 336-9014