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Wendy Reuer, Published June 18 2012

48 hours to make movie magic

When no teams had signed up for the 48 Film Project here before early-bird registration in the beginning of June, organizer Joseph Moses was told he had one week to gather at least 12 teams, or the event wouldn’t happen.

“I was confident these teams would come from somewhere; there are so many talented people here,” Moses said.

He was right.

As of Friday, 13 teams had signed up to write, shoot and edit an entire movie in about the same time it takes to drive from New York to Hollywood.

“In 2010, the film festival never happened in Fargo because there weren’t enough teams,” Moses said. “(This year) everybody that was looking at the website and thinking about it finally started registering one by one.”

The challenge will begin Friday when Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker kicks off the event, and teams are assigned characters, a prop and a line of dialogue that must be included in the movie.

Fargo’s fest is part of the larger international 48 Hour Film Project, which has cities across the globe hosting similar weekends throughout the year.

“It is the biggest filmmaking event in the whole world,” Moses said.

Here in Fargo, Joseph Kramer is hoping to do well with his team, Wilhelm Scream.

He has participated in at least eight 48 Hour Film Festivals before and won last year’s Fargo event with his team’s short film, “Gyroscope.”

“We are really proud of our project last year. We want to focus on a good story, good performances and just make it more grand,” said Kramer, a Fargo native.

The weekend is a lot of fun disguised as hard work, Kraemer said, but he likes the fast pace.

“(What) I like the best about it is the same reason why I like doing live events: Once it’s over, it’s over, there is no second guessing yourself,” he said. “You don’t really have time to edit or fine tune anything. You go for it, you get it out of you and it’s done and you can just let it go.”

For Preston Johnson, the weekend will be his first Fargo 48 Film Fest.

“Filmmaking has always been a small passion of mine,” he said.

Johnson, who will be on a team with fellow Sundog employees, many of whom have participated in the 48 Hour Festival before, is excited to take on the challenge of such a quick turnaround.

“No. 1: Our team has to have a great time. No. 2: We want to come together and make a really great film and if we end up with an award or two, that’s really just icing on the cake,” Johnson said. “It’s really awesome to have a great team and everyone knows what they are supposed to do. It’s a challenge for sure.”

Although it will be Johnson’s first time in a 48-hour festival, he and his team recently won a best picture award in another film competition.

“Going into something like this, you really have to be prepared as a team. No one person can make a really great film,” he said.

Johnson is also producing a documentary about hip hop in North Dakota, a project he’s been working on it for about year and a half.

Locally grown films

Moses first heard about the film fest in 2006, when he saw a small postcard advertising the project in a downtown coffee shop.

It piqued his interest and he got involved, joining a team and making a short film in just 48 hours.

“I didn’t win any prizes but it was really fun,” Moses said. “To try and do something in one weekend was just crazy.”

Moses now uses what he learned as a 48 Hour Film Fest participant to help other teams.

In his original production, Moses was able to ask local musical artists to lend their music to his movie. He used a piece from the FM Symphony and even Lori Line, the famed pianist.

Now, he asks teams to also look to local musicians when possible for the soundtracks to their movies.

“People are more than happy to get their music out,” Moses said.

Moses said not only did teams step up to the plate this year, but local sponsors have as well.

“There has never been so many new sponsors for the teams,” he said. “I try to reach out to sponsors and give prizes to the filmmakers to inspire them. It is just amazing how sponsors are coming forward to support something that is related to arts in the community.”

This coming weekend may be a sleepless whirlwind of work, but once the movies are submitted Sunday evening, they will be judged by six local celebrity judges – including The Forum’s own John Lamb.

The winning movie will receive a cash prize and will be shown at Filmapolooza, the official 48 Hour Film Project Awards Weekend.

The movies also have a chance to appear at the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France.

“(International judges) will choose the 10 best films to be screened at the Cannes Film festival,” Moses said.

Although Friday is coming fast, there is still some time to sign up, and organizers say more is welcome.

“I learned so much about film making in 48-hour competitions because you learn how to use your resources,” Kramer said.

If you go

What: Fargo 48 Hour Film Project Kickoff

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Where: Sky Prairie, Hotel Donaldson, 101 Broadway N. Fargo


What: Fargo 48 Hour Film Project Premiere Screenings

When: 7 p.m. June 27

Where: Fargo Theatre, 314 Broadway N. Fargo

More online: For more information: www.48hourfilm.com/en/fargo


Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530