Film

The 48-hour film fest’s defending champs show us how it’s done

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Director Joe Morris, left, watches as Stephen Sorrentino and Bruce Hammond rehearse a scene during filming for their entry in the 48 Hour Film Project Saturday, April 9, 2011.
Photo: Sam Morris
Molly O'Donnell

The clouds gather ominously overhead as I circle a windowless building, deciding if I’m in the right spot. After a frantic call, a guy shows, whispering that I should follow. I shadow him into the depths of what turns out to be Laguna Studios. Eventually I stumble into the world’s tiniest room, lit by a single lightbulb and filled with people. Among them: a menacing man, another bleeding from the ears and a third who shoots me a look like I’m next.

48-hour film fest

Details

48 Hour Film Project Screening
April 14, 7 & 9 p.m., $10.
Century 16 Suncoast, 48hourfilm.com/lasvegas.
Ruff Kut’s Omerta premieres April 14, 9 p.m.

Fortunately that look has more to do with the clouds. He’s planning to shoot in the desert, a circumstance that only has a little do with the guns in the next room. Jason Robertson is director of photography, and he informs me in an Australian accent that rain is not ideal for filmmaking. My interloping is also starting to feel “not ideal.” After I give up my short-lived career as a meteorologist, I take a place in a corner and quickly learn how Ruff Kut Productions won last year’s 48 Hour Film Project: with professionalism and talent.

Anyone who’s ever participated in a competition like this can tell you, it’s a pressure cooker. Forty-eight teams of three are assigned a character, occupation, line and prop. They pick a genre out of a hat and take two days to make a short film. This year, Ruff Kut producer Matt Smith drew “Silent Film,” an inauspicious pick. But everyone from director Joe Morris to actor Anthony Avery is calm. Avery explains, “These guys are total pros. For me, it’s like a 48-hour film school.” Avery, a five-time participant, sought the team out this year. Lead actor Stephen Sorrentino agrees, “They’re brilliant; see how they handled the genre issue?”

It is impressive, a point-of-view workaround that deftly fulfills the genre requirement without any old-timey ditties: a temporarily deaf character, played by the bloody-eared Bruce Hammond. While the stakes are higher this year—the winning film shows at Cannes—Ruff Kut remains unruffled. If other teams are anything like this, the screening is sure to be transfixing.

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