NH filmmakers take 48-hour challenge

Union Leader Correspondent
June 12. 2011 8:07PM
Cameras were rolling at Serendipity in Portsmouth on Sunday morning as Tom Jackson and his team wrapped up filming for their submission to the 48 Hour Film Project. Jackson left directs action as actress Cassia Chipman prepares for her final shot. (GRETYL MACALASTER)
PORTSMOUTH - To see Tom Jackson in action, one would not have imagined he was under tight time constraints.

It was Sunday morning, and the clock ticked as Jackson and his crew wrapped up filming for their submission to the 48-Hour Film Project.

As his crew filmed a final scene at the Pleasant Street store Serendipity, editor Tavia Lee-Goldstein was back in Jackson's court street office, turning over one hour of film into a seven-minute short.

On Friday night, teams from all over New Hampshire picked their genre out of a hat, and learned the specific criteria they had to include in their four- to seven-minute short films: a character (Shorty or Sharon Cook, a politician), a prop (a watch) and a line of dialogue ('Be true to your word'). Teams had until 7 p.m. last night to submit their movies.

This is Jackson's first year participating in the 48 Hour Film Project, and despite the frenetic pace, he said it had just been plain old fun to do.

Jackson, of Joe Public Films, is an accomplished documentary filmmaker based in Portsmouth, but some members of his team had never participated in the making of a film, including Jackson's star, Cassia Chipman of Rhode Island.

'It has been a lot of fun. There is some pressure, but it's a challenge,' Chipman said.

Chipman said she met Jackson through her job at a bank. She has been involved in theater but expressed an interest in films, so he invited her to be part of the project.

She said the time limit on the project allowed her to see the process of making a film from start to finish, including the brainstorming of ideas, finding locations, filming, scoring and editing.

'I figured I'd be able to learn how to do things under pressure. Things are going to come together whatever was planned,' she said.

On Wednesday, she and hundreds of others will be able to see films created by all of the teams during screenings at Cinemagic Theater in Hooksett.

The 48 Hour Film Project was founded in Washington, D.C. in 2001 and has grown each year since.

In 2010, nearly 40,000 filmmakers made 3,000 films in 80 cities on five continents as part of the project.

The project came to New Hampshire three years ago, and this year more than 400 people were expected to participate in teams from all over the state.

Jackson said he saw the project as an opportunity to branch out from documentaries and be more creative.

The time limit was also appealing.

'If it was the 48-week film festival, I probably wouldn't get involved with it. I have other things I need to do to make money like everybody else.'

Jackson said it would be great if what comes out of this project is inspiration for a larger piece down the road.

'That would be the best possible outcome,' Jackson said.

At the screenings he said he will most likely be looking for the technical aspects of the films, including lighting and composition, the set up of the shot, as well as the level of production value and the quality that winds up in the shorts.

But he is not feeling competitive.

'The prize to me would be to come out of it with something that stands pretty well on its own,' Jackson said.

After the Wednesday screenings, a panel of judges will determine winners in several categories, including one 'Best Of' film that will be sent to the international 48 Hour Film Project competition.

Ticket information for the screenings is available at www.48hourfilm.com/newhampshire.

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