Check Out The Creative Results Of Chicago's 48-Hour Film Fest

By Chicagoist_Guest in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 9, 2016 4:34PM

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Film still, handout photo.

By Tony Boylan

Anyone who imagines a life in the visual arts ponders, perhaps discreetly, the notion of success. Fame and fortune, your name in lights, the swankiest suites on reserve at all the best rehab clinics.

Seldom considered, though, is a muggy August night in which you are one of four characters dressed in full clown makeup circling the muddy environs of the Will County Fair in a Mini Cooper, unable to park because your shooting schedule conflicts with the demolition derby. That was the first step toward film fest fame for Galaxy Maps, a team entered in this year’s 48 Hour Film Project. The team was one of about 52 to enter the contest that, as the name suggests, asks filmmakers to make a short, four- to eight-minute film in 48 hours. And anything can happen.

Their film, Funny Money, is a mockumentary about a group of clowns reuniting for one last gig. It had to fulfill the genre they drew for the competition: road movie. The plan was to shoot at the fair, but by the time the script was written, makeup and costumes on, and the trek to Peotone was complete, it was too late to get the footage they sought. There were still people at the fair, but the lights were out and the rides had been shut.

“Sadly, we never made it to the fair,’’ lamented team member Amy Myers, ‘’ just like our characters.’’

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Film still, handout photo.

“Funny Money’’ and 51 more films will screen in five groupings at the Music Box Theater, 3733 N. Southport Ave., Sunday, Sept. 11 and Monday, Sept. 12 with an awards ceremony Sept. 15 at 7:30 p.m. They will be judged by a panel of local people in arts and entertainment, and the winner will move on to compete with the best films from other 48 Hour contests around the world at Filmapalooza 2017 for a chance to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival 2017, Court M├ętrage.


Filmmakers met Friday, Aug. 26 at Magnanimous Media near Chinatown for the start of the project. The teams learned common elements all of the entries must contain:

  • 1) A character named Ian or Iris Burmon, who works as a treasurer.

  • 2) A cassette tape used as a prop.

  • 3) And a line of dialogue: “It can’t be that difficult,’’ or “It cannot be that difficult.’’
  • Then each team was assigned a genre by pulling slips of paper from a hat. At 7 pm. They were out the door, required to return no later than Sunday night at 7 p.m. with their completed film. Only 39 teams made it back on time.

    Jerry Vasilatos is a six-time competitor in the contest and now is in his second year as the Chicago producer of the event. He calls the contest a “rite of passage’’ for any aspiring filmmaker.

    “If you want to work in any aspect of film production, this is the best education you can have,’’ said Vasilatos, a Columbia College film grad. “You can study the art forever, but you’ll never know what it’s really like until you try do a competition like this.’’

    That seems a fair point to Joel Sacramento, who made a superhero genre movie called “Cicada Man.’’ While he was filming deep in the brush of a Chicago forest preserve after dark, the police drove by and were suspicious after seeing several vehicles in the parking lot with nary a soul visible in the typical picnic areas.

    ‘’Of course the guy in the Cicada Costume is the one who ended up going out and talking to the police,’’ Sacramento said.