Tampa's 48 Hour Filmmakers invade Channelside for this year's festival

Of note in the 6:30 screening: A full-color film noir short featuring a travel agent whose best customer is probably involved in some (hilariously) illegal dealings; and a mockumentary about a local tourist villa battling the poor economy and oil spill by baring all and inviting their guests to do the same for new-and-improved nude-specific tourist activities — helicopter lessons! (And look out for lots of puns involving the balls and racks at a pool hall.)

I am also pleased to report that both teams CL followed during the competition turned out spectacular shorts. As I admitted in this week's Reel Projections Podcast, I was concerned about the Filmsters having such a detailed script on such a short deadline, but they pulled it off through thanks to the subtle and confident approach of their acting-troupe cast and crew. Kudos to an exceptional performance by the film's antagonist, played by the stunning Cristina Franco.

Veteran team Studio Generic created such a tense thriller/suspense ambiance that, without anything beyond G-rated action, the family sitting in front of me had to usher their terrified kids into the lobby until after the surprise ending.

Winners have not yet been announced. (The date of an event revealing the winners has yet to be set.) Judges are currently in the process of deliberating, balancing out awards in various categories, audience votes and overall quality. The semi-finalists will then try their luck at this year's Filmapalooza. I'll have more once the winners are announced. Stay tuned …

Last Wednesday, Channelside Cinemas played host to the Tampa/St. Petersburg leg of the international 48 Hour Film Project. Due to the number of teams participating this year, organizers split entries over two screenings, one at 6:30 pm and one at 9:30 pm. Both shows played to packed houses.

So how did our Bay area filmmakers fare against the world?

I'll be honest — there were a lot of plastic guns in these films. There's just something about amateur filmmaking that brings out the shoot-em-up lust in us all.

However, considering the time constraints, it's clear that these filmmakers kept their noses to the grindstone. Surprisingly high-quality editing and image correction, well-rounded and performed stories, and even the occasional successful special effect were peppered generously throughout the film selection.

Hopefully our semi-finalists will end up giving the filmmakers of the world a run for their money this year at Cannes.

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