Students capture ‘unnatural beasts’ in 48-Hour Film Project

Local filmmakers produce pieces in a time crunch


Photo by Gabe Lagarde

Max Harding, a senior geography and journalism student, stands in front of the Hibbard building. Harding will debut “Blinker” at this year’s rendition of the 48-hour Film Project.

Film buffs of the Chippewa Valley can get a look at local talent during the 12th annual 48-Hour Film Project set to take place 6 p.m. Thursday at Woodland Theater.

Participants include college students, high school students and other members of the community who are challenged each October to create an original film.

Each film follows a set of parameters, the most important being able to complete the process – from conceiving the story to final edits – in two days.

Max Harding, a senior geography and journalism student, said the hardest aspect of the competition is the sheer amount of work condensed into such a short time frame.

“It’s not easy. It’s incredibly draining and a lot of work,” he said. “We put (six and a half) hours of filming in the first night. The next day we spent another four hours going back to the same filming location.”

Harding said much of this effort goes into meeting the festival’s requirements. This year, the theme is “Unnatural Beasts,” which Harding described as a mixture between J.K. Rowling’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and the Netflix phenomenon “Stranger Things,” although he noted the theme is purposefully vague and left to interpretation.

This year’s competition also stipulated a ten minute time limit and no usage of footage filmed prior to the competition, which leaves little time for staging, cutting, adding effects and editing the final product.

For Harding, who was among the TV-10 team that won best picture during last year’s competition, no matter how taxing the competition is, the result is always rewarding.

“At the end of it … you’re so satisfied,” he said. “I love that feeling of creating a movie and watching people enjoy it.”

The festival is organized by the UW-Eau Claire Activities Commission (UAC), specifically the film commission, which oversees the weekly film screenings in Woodland Theater. Admission for the festival is free.

Madeline Lunzer, a sophomore communications and English student and the UAC Film Committee chairperson, said this year’s festival features eight submissions for a total screen time of roughly an hour.

Judges will evaluate the eight films for awards in categories including best film, best actor, best actress and the film that made the best use of the predetermined requirements. At the conclusion of the screening, the audience will be able to vote for their favorite film.

Lunzer said the competition brings out the best in the filmmakers and invited the community to take part in judging the films.

“Filmmaking is a great outlet for expression. Some people work well under pressure and put something really magical, that really works in a short amount of time,” Lunzer said. “The challenge is exciting and for people who love filmmaking, who love films, it’s a really fun incentive.”