The Emerson College 48-Hour Film Fest is growing, and this semester, it’s hitting the big screen
For the past several years, teams of students have spent two frenzied days creating short films around an assigned theme. This year’s Fest, which runs January 15–18, will culminate in a screening at the AMC Loews Boston Common on Monday, January 18, 11:00 am–2:00 pm.
“I think it adds some pressure, but also I feel like more people will be willing to do it because having your film on a [big] screen is such a big deal,” said Jordan Gustafson, a sophomore Visual and Media Arts major and student organizer of the Fest for the past two semesters.
Last September, 365 students registered to take part, and split up in teams of 6 to produce films on the topic of “redemption,” Gustafson said. All films had to be under 3 minutes, and all had to slip the word “angst” in somewhere.
The registration goal for this semester’s Fest is 400, Gustafson said. The theme and required word are kept under wraps until January 15, the start of the filmmaking period, as is a new addition to the contest: a prop that must be used somewhere in the movie.
Gustafson said filmmakers turn in a “good mix” of genres (though dramas tend to outnumber comedies), and participating students, while mostly VMA majors, can come from any background.
Films are judged by a panel of students, faculty, and presidents of campus organizations, he said. They’re narrowed down to a top-10 shortlist, which is rescreened at the Bordy Theater at a later date. The top three winners get prizes.
The 48-Hour Film Fest is put on by the Film Immersion Learning Community and evolved from an event called Cornucopia of Creativity, a 24-hour joint project of the Writers’ Block and Performing Culture learning communities that resulted in a short stage production, said Seth Grue, associate director of housing and residence life.
Film Fest entries are low-tech due to permitting restrictions (no lights, small crews), he said, and are meant to spur creativity and bonding.
The competition is so popular that this year Film Immersion decided to do one each semester.
“We’ve never really had quite the interest as we’ve had displayed this year,” Grue said. “I think it would be great if we could maintain or sustain an interest [at this level].”