UPDATED: The Best of Madison’s 48 Hour Film Project

From banana binges to mafia dinners to imaginary voices, we run through our notes on Madison’s 48 Hour Film Project

(UPDATED 08-29-2016: The 48 Hour Film Project has announced Madison’s full list of winners via its Facebook page:)

Best Film, Best Writing, Best Cinematography, Best Graphics:
Meatball Assassino, Firmament/Redacted

Best Film Runner-up, Best Directing, Best Acting, Best Editing, Best Sound Design, Best Use of Character:
He’s Just That into Me, The Bechdel Test

Best Film 2nd Runner-up, Best Directing, Audience Favorite Award:
A Measure in Time, Good Land Media

Best Cinematography [tie], Best Writing:
The Roof, Agu Gali

Best Cinematography [tie], Best Acting:
The Forbidden Fable of Papa L’s .38 Special, AI Wisconsin

Best Use of Character, Best Use of Line of Dialogue, Best Use of Prop, Best Musical Score:
Homefront, The 15 Machine

Audience Favorite Award, Best Special Effects:
Belong, Key Media

Best Costumes, Best Musical Score:
Babel’s End, Edge Line Studios

Best Choreography:
The Bunker, Film Underground

“Where is everybody this year?”

Whomever sat in front of me echoed my thoughts exactly. Despite Sundance’s theaters looking maybe two-thirds full, 48 Hour producer Sierra Shea told me that attendance at Madison’s 2016 48 Hour Film Project was in keeping with years past last year’s turnout. That’s impressive, given last Thurs’ crummy weather and the fact that only 21 teams tested their filmmaking wits over the weekend. (down from the usual 24.) This year, teams were force-fed the line “I need your help”; a server named Owen or Olivia Castleton; and a tape measure as a prop.

(Note: You can watch all 21 entries from this year on that fancy new YouTube channel. We’ll just highlight our favorites here.)

The evening’s first screening session was dominated by Kevin Croak. In Family Meeting, Croak stages a family-supported bank robbery after he gets in deep with the bookies; his losing horse, I Need Your Help, gets a nice nod with the rubber horse mask disguise he eventually sports.

Later, Croak showed up again in Room 117, Wil Loper and Dustin Hardy’s bizarro trip. Croak gets stuck in a hotel for 40 years when he’s sucked into a self-induced banana binge. Weird and hilarious, Room 117 uses Dale Mitchell’s whacked out banana dealer for some amazing expressions; “I didn’t know Judi Dench did hot yoga” was the runaway line of the evening.

Other notable laughs came from He’s That Into You. Director Baylee McDonough capitalizes when a conversation between two coworkers in the park is interrupted by a faraway admirer. Sparks fly, unbeknownst to one of the girls, who continues to complain.

Roomies puts a tidy spin on the buddy film, where a man and his dog engage in a one-sided heart-to-heart about the man’s new girlfriend — but not before mining comedic gold out of cutaway gags, including eating dog food together and unsuccessfully building a dog house.

Northern Lights Productions placed its goddess out of water on a mission to find her alleged soulmate, and the only man who can help her find peace and mortality is the one waiter who refuses to hit on her. Exclusively shot on Madeline Island (and with a drone, no less), Northern Lights flips gender and romantic conventions in their lopsided pursuit.

Atwoodland Productions featured the best use of character, fashioning Olivia as an imaginary voice inside the head of Gwen Werner, who slowly carries out murdering a random man she meets at a hotel. With ample slow motion, close-ups and a dialogue-free opening, The Seamstress has style for days.

The Bunker looks fantastic with Ben Albert’s luminous cinematography serving as the lone bright spot in a murderous tale of a work crew getting mysteriously offed overnight.

Rubin Whitmore made use of a refreshing flashback structure to comment on cycles of violence and police relations. Told through interwoven segments all linked by a hand-me-down revolver, The Forbidden Fable of Papa L’s .38 Special lights up its grimy nightlife with the always appreciated help of DP Spencer Ortega.

Redacted Films mixed gut-busting with plain guts when a man takes his (suspecting) girlfriend to dinner to meet the rest of the family mafia. Redacted goes big with character in this, and the association of marinara and blood splatter by film’s end was appreciated.

Key Media found a great young actor in Ami Eckard-Lee for their fish-out-of-water story Belong, and their take on Olivia Castleton upgrades her from mucking up lunch orders to dazzling spectators as a circus sideshow act.

KGB Films got big laughs with their martial arts send-up Kung Fu Waiter, where Owen rescues a young woman from the clutches of three generic goons. Director Garrick Hollenbeck hits the nail on the head with over-the-top dialogue dubs and kinetic first-person POV shots to emphasize the chops and kicks.

Babel’s End uses beautiful black-and-white images (a fantastic double-down on the weekend’s overcast skies), an angelic choir-based soundtrack, and multilingual dialogue for a story about communication and trust.

David Kaye’s A Measure of Time shows a theater’s dress rehearsal in real-time, shirking cuts for a seamless style that drew oohs from the second screening’s audience. Kaye begins with what amounts to a time wizard character, who grants a more mature Olivia the chance to reflect on her days as a struggling understudy. A Measure of Time is ambitious, understated and unlike anything else this year.

Homefront spun the absolute worst genre (Holiday Film) into a moving, minimalist story about a former soldier’s desire for normalcy. Director Emma Siewert also featured the best use of the tape measure, working it in as an accessory to a vital memory. Homefront‘s ending line (also the evening’s best use of dialogue) is a perfectly opaque capper on a surprising, heartfelt turn from The 15 Machine.

  • 2016’s audience favorites, as well as a handful of judges awards, will be announced at the Madison 48 Hour Film Project’s “Best Of” Screening. The screening takes place at 5:00p at the High Noon Saloon on Sat, Aug 27. Admission is $5.