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The first 48
Local filmmakers compete to beat the clock this weekend

Should you spot a smallish film crew on some streetcorner this weekend, be advised it’s not a new import from Hollywood, or Bombay, or even the advance team for The Last Song 2 (God forbid).

It’s the 48 Hour Film Project, now in its fourth year in Savannah, in which aspiring filmmakers create an entire short film in two short days. Start to Fin.

Approximately 10 teams have paid the registration fee for the 2012 film–a–thon, according to the local event producer Anthony Paderewski. Surprisingly, “Only one or two are SCAD teams,” he says. “I think that’s because most of them are away at the time it happens. So the ones who do participate are usually people that are just hanging around.”

So who’s just hanging around? “They’re independent filmmakers,” Paderewski explains. “Usually the team leaders are the ones who have the camera or the resources to bring in the crew to make these films.”

Now in its 11th year, the 48 Hour Film Project is an international movie marathon — in 2012, 50,000 filmmakers will make almost 4,000 films in 120 cities, on six continents.

Here’s how it works. Once you register, you show up to a designated meeting place (this year, it’s McDonough’s, on Friday, Aug. 24). You’ll be given a character, a prop, a line of dialogue and a genre, all to include in your movie.

The genre list includes everything from horror to comedy to silent to musical. “Nobody knows what they have until they pull it out of a hat right there at the competition,” Paderewski explains. “Everybody has the same prop, the same character, the same profession of the character. They literally find out right there. Out of a bucket.”

If you just can’t stand the genre you’ve drawn, you can opt for the “wild card.” Could be anything. Could be The Last Song 2.

Over the next two days you write, cast, direct, edit and score your movie. If you miss the turn–in deadline, you’re all washed up, pal. You’ll never work in show business again!

Well, not exactly. “There are specific rules they have to follow, and there are so many things that can happen,” says Paderewski.

For example. “Last year, we had two teams that actually turned in late. And they were two of the best films we had! Unfortunately, they weren’t eligible to win, but they got to be showcased. There was a freak electrical storm that Sunday, when they were supposed to turn in. The power went out during their rendering process, and when you’re rendering high–def video, you have to start all over again. And it takes hours.”

Filmmakers from Savannah, Brunswick, Beaufort and Charleston have accepted the Chatham challenge.

“It’s a venue for people who can compete,” adds Paderewski. “In the market, everybody’s making small films and independent films, but this is a platform where everybody can just sit down and compete against other local people —friends, or people in their neighborhood — and show what they can do in this limited amount of time.”

The winning team competes against other films to represent Savannah at the 48 Hour Film Project’s “Filmapalooza” event in Las Vegas.