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48Hours: the weirdest and most brutalising film competition in the world returns

Each year hundreds of young creatives spend a weekend creating mini movies in the 48 Hours Furious Filmmaking Challenge. 48 Hours vet Joseph Harper looks at what’s new this year and what to expect.

There was probably a small sigh around the country when the Autumn months passed and the 48 Hours Furious Filmmaking Challenge didn’t show its head. Some small element of relief. Those teams that regularly endure the event know what the tight deadlines weekend of stress feels like.

But those same teams were almost definitely a bit bummed out. Despite the tribulations of the thing (or maybe because of them), completing a 48 Hours film is an immensely pleasurable and satisfying thing. So when 48Hours head honcho Ant Timpson announced that the event was partnering with HP and would be going ahead it was also a relief to know the 14 year old limits-testing trial would be returning to torture us all anew. The event will take place on the weekend of September 16th, in the spring, and thousands of hastily conceived movie-babies will be born. Registration closes on the 12th – so pull finger and head to the website if you haven’t already.

Taika Waititi in all his toothy, 48Hours glory

Taika Waititi in all his toothy, 48Hours glory

This year they’ve also announced “The mother of all warmup competitions”: HP48 Minutes. Entrants will be tasked with creating a 48 second micro-movie. The tortuous catch is, they’ll only have 48 minutes to make it. You have to conceive, produce, and upload something that resembles a movie in under an hour. It’s pretty nutso. And a suitably brutal idea for a competition that subscribes to the idea that immense pressure makes diamonds. I’m sure it will be a lot of masochistic fun. The winning films get a very fancy gaming laptop and – much more importantly from a competition standpoint – 48 extra minutes in the proper 48 Hours competition.

48Hours stalwarts Joseph Moore and Nic Sampson, who now write and perform on pretty much every kiwi comedy show, know the potential value of 48 extra minutes. “I’ve managed to make my way from the youngest 48Hours age bracket to the oldest.” says Joseph. “I’ve done it seven times in ten years and have experienced the pain of being late three times.”

“We’ve somehow become veterans who are just really bad at the job,” says Nic cheerfully.

“The first time we missed the deadline, my dad was really sympathetic, but then when we missed it again the year after he was just like, ‘Why didn’t you just do it earlier?’”

Their most awesome failure came in 2013. The team made what they consider their best 48Hours offering, a slick and impressive musical about singing. Joseph remembers that year’s entry. They even managed to finish the film before the deadline. “The most agonising thing was that we were right there, at the finish, just transferring the file, and it said ‘about a minute left’ and there was exactly a minute left before the deadline. About a minute. It said about a minute. And then a minute passed and it still said about a minute.”

Best of all, it was captured in glorious cameraphone footage. You can see Joseph in the aqua-marine jumper running to the finish line and standing dejectedly as their tech fails them and ironically renders their hard work useless with incredible speed.

Maybe if they’d had those 48 extra minutes, their film would have made it across the line and ferried them to the Grand Final.

HP48 organiser Ant Timpson is pretty excited about the new wrinkle. “I know this idea is insane, and I’m sure anyone over 25-years old thinks this idea is simply more ammo for the argument about dwindling attention-spans and death of story-telling,” he says. “Well you can call this a direct response to the bloated spandex epics that clog movie screens. Viva la micro-movie!”

Now in its fourteenth year, 48Hours has proven itself to be an exceptional vehicle for talent. Previous Grand Champions and category winners now occupy Breakfast radio slots, head up our comedy writers‘ rooms, and are creating the country’s favourite telly shows. When Five-Star comedy genius, Rose Matafeo was in high school she won Auckland’s Best Actress prize for her performance in the delightful and heavily bandanna’d Westmere Story. Taika Waititi produced a number of baffling and brilliant shorts and now he’s directing a fricken Marvel movie! Clearly there’s some value to it. Timpson hopes this new competition, which is totally open entry (meaning you don’t have to be registered for 48Hours to have a crack) could be a gateway for people into the world of 48Hours proper.

Perhaps the next Taika will be watching their tiny masterpiece fail to upload as the 48 Minute time limit ticks over…


HP48 Minutes is this Saturday, September 3rd at 2pm and is open entry. If you’re up for a bit of punishment, all the details are right here, or up on the 48Hours facebook page.

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