CUMBERLAND — For some, a two-day foray to the Casco Bay islands is a retreat from everyday mainland life. For Michael Panenka and a handful of colleagues, an island adventure last August was an intensive immersion in what they do every day on the mainland.
Loading a boat with actors, writers, editors, cameras, booms and lights, Panenka’s team of filmmakers set out for Sturdivant Island with one goal: making a film.
In 48 hours.
Competing in Portland’s annual 48-hour Film Project festival – the first, local round in an international competition – the team was assigned a genre, a character, a prop and one line of dialog, and told to come back with a film.
Their horror flick, “Mailboat” (which included the requisite furniture-maker Melvin/Melissa Lions, a notebook, and the line “It’s never going to be the same”), filmed entirely on Sturdivant Island, won the city competition.
This weekend, the team will travel to Miami to take part in Filmapalooza, the finale festival for the 2008 48-hour Film Project season, where all 70 city-winning films will be screened over two days in conjunction with the Miami International Film Festival.
The best 48-hour film of 2008 will take home a $5,000 cash prize.
While some might find a 48-hour deadline a little too intense, crew member Jayson Lobozzo said the structure and parameters actually stimulated the creative process.
“There’s not a lot of time to second-guess yourself,” he said, “you just go with the hair-brained ideas you have at the time.”
It was the first 48-hour film competition for the group, which comes from a community of freelance filmmakers, and those two days were brutal, Lobozzo said.
Given instructions on a Friday, the weekend was full of round-table screenwriting, filming from sunrise to sunset, and then a mad final rush to edit hours of takes down to less than seven minutes of movie. Despite the insane schedule (and the recovery period afterward), it also gave the group a chance to create something away from the norm, and outside of their every day work.
The only thing they’d have changed – and that they did change when they made a second 48-hour film in January – was the hassle of boating everyone and all their stuff back and forth to the island, regardless of its beautiful, “really ‘Maine'” quality, Lobozzo said.
“Mailboat” can be found on YouTube, but Panenka warns that “viewer discretion is advised.”
After all, he said, the easiest way to make a film fit the horror genre is by using lots of blood.
Michael Panenka, left, and a crew of more than a dozen filmmakers helped produce “Mailboat” on Sturdivant Island over 48 hours. The film won Portland’s annual 48-hour Film Project festival and will be shown this weekend in conjunction with the Miami International Film Festival. With Panenka are Tom Eichler, Jayson Lobozzo and Ben Kahn. (Trent photo)