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May 2024
Vol. 23, No. 8

Plot Points: Updates from San Diego’s Film Community

Gone in 48 Hours

by Raul SandelinSeptember 2021

First, you need a script

Teacher and student at Movie Making Camp.

Students on set.

San Diego Music Awards

If you’re reading this, it’s over! The annual 48 Hour Film Project was the weekend of August 27-29. They really should call it the “48 Second Film Project” because every year, it comes and goes so fast. The 48HFP is emblematic of our times…at least filmmaking. It’s spontaneous and crowd sourced, democratic, and existential. Basically…every year, thousands of people (hundreds in San Diego alone)—usually strangers—come together to form filmmaking teams that then write and produce a narrative script, all in a span of 48 hours, Friday to Sunday.
Conceived in 2001, the 48HFP promises “a wild and sleepless weekend” wherever you are. The event has expanded to 130 cities on six continents. Different cities take part throughout the year on a staggered schedule. Most weekends gravitate toward the summer months. Los Angeles and San Diego both took part in August, which probably doubled the profits of every Starbucks in the Southland.
Locally, Duane Trammell organizes the annual event. The greater San Diego group has over 4,000 members on Facebook. Leading up to the competition in August, dozens of teams were forming daily as actors and writers; crew members posted their headshots and resumes while seeking out their kindred spirits. The team names reflect their personalities: Cup o’ Jones, Quixana, Rawmix Productions, Guerrilla Asthete, Zkoty Films, Nothing Else Matters.
Unfortunately, the 221 annual 48 Hour Film Project has now come and gone…at least in San Diego. However, if you want to chase your dream to another city, there are still plenty of 48HFPs dotting the calendar from here to the end of the year. And, be sure to mark your calendar for next year in San Diego. Just remember to drink lots of coffee.
Cellphones aren’t just for selfies anymore
Over the last decade, Susy Botello has established herself as the international guru on mobile filmmaking, that is, making films using nothing but a cellphone. In 2009, she launched the International Mobile Film Festival.
Since 2017, she’s had a podcast dedicated to the craft of mobile filmmaking. The goal of the podcast is to address the specific concerns of mobile filmmakers. The evolving techniques and styles of mobile filmmakers differ greatly from traditional film and video forms of filmmaking. The 106th episode was recorded and aired in August. Each episode runs at least 45 minutes. Some run up to an hour. As of 2021, the podcasts are averaging 10,000 listeners per year, many of whom are filmmakers interested in the still-new niche genre of mobile filmmaking. “One listener from Australia had just binge-watched the podcast,” says Botello.
Guests have included Bradley Gallo who owns the rights to the Green Hornet franchise, members of the creative hub, actors from Lord of the Rings, Travis Mills—first person to film a feature-length Western using an iPhone, and Jennifer Zhang. Zhang won best feature at the 2021 International Mobile Film Festival. She shot and edited a feature-length film entirely on her cellphone. Her film was even mentioned at Cannes.
Botello is also preparing for next year’s International Mobile Film Festival, which will be in person at Marina Village April and May of 2022. There will also be an online version. The mobile filmmaking community may still be a niche. But it’s growing and spreading out over the globe. The online festival will seek to capture many of the events, including screenings, workshops, a red carpet, and an awards ceremony for those who aren’t able to fly to San Diego. Submissions for both shorts and features are now open and run through October and November, depending on the category
The Film Consortium lands an airport gig
Jodi Cilley of the Film Consortium San Diego reports that the SAN Arts Program collaborated with the Film Consortium for the Quarantine Film Challenge recently. In addition, Cilley adds, “We are so excited to share that locally made films and music videos are going to be screened at the San Diego International Airport! Watch the films on their website, the AirSpace Lounge, and on the 100 plus screens across both terminals.” Recently, the Film Consortium also launched a new Film CON TV channel with KPBS. Details coming soon!
The Digital Gym is moving to a new downtown location
The Media Arts Center San Diego (MACSD) has announced that it is moving from its North Park location to new digs downtown! Its doors are set to reopen this Fall inside the state-of-the-art UC San Diego @ Park Blvd. and Market Street, the University’s new building located in the heart of downtown San Diego.
The MACSD’s new Digital Gym will be located on the second floor of the building, adjacent to both a gallery space and an overlook terrace. A concession stand will be in operation during cinema hours. MACSD’s office will be on the third floor and will include access to classrooms for our youth and teen media education initiatives. The soft launch for the Digital Gym Cinema is October 2021. Plans for an opening reception are underway, as well as preview events for members of the community and media.
Ethan van Thillo, founder and executive director of the MACSD says, “We are excited to finally be able to announce our new partnership with UC San Diego. We want to thank Mary Walshok and all those at the University of California San Diego who have championed our community film and education programs in order to make this a reality. The pandemic put a brief stop to our in-person outreach, so it will be extra special to see our Digital Gym Cinema film goers back inside our new state-of-the-art movie theater. We look forward to seeing the smiling faces of all our youth and teen filmmakers at our filmmaking camps taking place year-round at the new facility in the East Village.”
UC San Diego @ Park & Market is located at the corner of Park Blvd. and Market Street in San Diego’s thriving East Village.
Last call for fall!
The start-up San Diego Movie Awards, founded by local filmmaker Terry Ross, are still accepting entries for their fall film competition. The quarterly competition includes dozens of categories, including student categories and a scriptwriting competition. The last, shut-the-door, no-if-and-or-buts “extended deadline” for fall is September 15. The first SDMA film festival is still planned to be in-person at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park in 2022.
It’s raining scripts
Everybody’s writing a script or developing a TV show these days. Call it the Kardashianization of America or something shorter. But everybody wants a piece of show biz. And now (even for just 48 hours) everyone can achieve that. For the December installment of Plot Points, I’d like to explore the “screenwriting renaissance” that is unfolding around us. So, if you have a newly written script or you’ve developed a TV show, let me know! I may even be able to give you your 48 hours or 48 minutes or 48 seconds of fame.
Raul Sandelin is a San Diego writer, filmmaker, musician, and educator. He teaches writing at Grossmont College in nearby El Cajon.
48 Hour Film Project
SBP Podcast Mobile Filmmaking
Film Consortium San Diego
Media Arts Center San Diego­Digital Gym
San Diego Movie Awards

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