cathleen_dean_web.jpgMIAMI — Here’s the scene: Professional and amateur filmmakers write, film, edit and score a short film in 48 hours.

If that’s not a crazy enough contest, the filmmakers are required to pick a genre out of a hat before they can even begin writing their short film — genres such as horror, science fiction, silent, drama and mocumentary. 

That’s only a partial description of the 48 Hour Film Project (48 HFP), which has been an annual event since 2001.

To make the contest even more fun, the producers determine mandatory elements that must be in each short film. This year’s are a character named Claude/Claudia Ramos — who is a repairperson, a wrapped present, and the mandatory dialogue: “I can’t/cannot believe it.”

The 48 HFP began in Washington, D.C. It now takes place not only in such American cities as Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Houston and Miami; host cities globally include Barcelona, Beirut, Cairo, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Melbourne, Mexico, Mumbai, Singapore and London. This year the 48 HFP is expecting some 50,000 filmmakers to make 4,000 films within its 125 cities internationally.


Miami’s 48 HFP has a record 46 teams competing. All will showcase their finished product at the Miami 48 HFP Premiere Screenings over two nights on May 24-25, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. at the Hollywood Central Performing Arts Center, 770 Monroe St., Hollywood. South Floridians can take part in the festivities for just $12 a night. At the end the audience will have the opportunity to vote on their favorite film. The South Florida Times is among the event sponsors; for moreinformation visit

“It’s definitely an adrenaline rush. People are up writing scripts Friday night, shooting all day Saturday, and editing on Sunday,” said Cathleen Dean, the Miami producer of this year’s 48 HFP. “You’re under the gun. A lot of things can happen during the 48 Hour Film Project,” she said with a smile during the Miami project’s kickoff  last Friday.

One would think that volunteering to be a local producer of a film contest that takes place in exactly 48 hours is crazier than actually competing in the contest itself. Dean, whose first brush with 48-hour filmmaking came when she heard crew members discussing it while shooting a film, has been producing the Miami contest for three years.  Despite the craziness, she manages to mentor the filmmaking teams and encourage their creativity. 


“I work with independent films all of the time, but I don’t dare to do this contest,” said Ika Hammond, of Hammond Films, who is competing in the contest this year with her family.  “Being a director in this contest is complex and risky and difficult.  But, it’s to have fun and enjoy the energy of making a film in such a short amount of time.”

Ika’s 14-year-old daughter Vanessa will be directing, her husband Joseph will be assistant director and her son Marcel will be acting along with his friends.  Her company’s film, as well as the other 45 that were written, filmed, edited and scored within 48 hours last weekend, will be judged by a panel of experts based on artistic and technical merit, as well as adherence to the assigned genre, character, character occupation and mandatory line of dialogue.

“We afford the filmmakers tremendous exposure and this is one of the only festivals around that really focuses on our local, South Florida talent,” said Dean. “We’re not flying people in from LA and New York.”

The prizes up for grabs include: Best Directing, Writing, Cinematography, Editing, Acting, Best Musical Score, Special Effects and the Audience Award. The Miami entry crowned Best Film will go on to compete at Filmapalooza 2013, which is 48 HFP’s Academy Awards, in Hollywood, Calif.


“Sixty percent of the people participating in this project are professionals in the industry.  So, it gives them an opportunity to be totally creative and you get it done in a weekend,” said Dean, who has helped put together teams by hosting meet-and-greets and auditions, as well as introducing professionals in the entertainment industry. “This festival is really about relationship building and a lot of people have met during the 48 hours and have gone on to work on projects together.”

Dean expressed tremendous confidence in the 46 filmmaking teams — “These are phenomenal movies, where the quality of the films get better and better every year” – as well as confidence that 48 HFP’s simple coda will be upheld again this year: “Be safe! Make great films! Good luck!”

WHAT: Miami 48 Hour Film Project Screenings

WHEN: May 24-25, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

WHERE: Hollywood Central Performing Arts Center, 770 Monroe St., Hollywood

COST: $12



Photo: Cathleen Dean