What can you do in 48 hours? For some filmmakers in Fredericton, the answer is: make a short film from scratch. The New Brunswick 48 Hour Film Competition started in 2007 and has since become a staple in Fredericton. The festival has evolved into a province-wide extravaganza, drawing creative minds from various corners of New Brunswick.


The 48 challenges teams to produce a complete film, from concept to execution, in only 48 hours. At the kickoff event, each team is handed an “inspiration package,” akin to the mystery ingredient in cooking shows. This package includes unique elements like a specific location, a distinct genre, and this year, an additional challenge to incorporate a “match cut” – a special editing technique. The final twist this year was that the 14 participating teams were required to use a second language, either in writing or spoken dialogue, for the grand prize of $500. 


According to Andrew Martel, co-director of the competition, The 48 has become a vital platform for both new filmmakers and seasoned experts. For students and new arrivals in Fredericton The 48 offers a learning opportunity and a chance to experiment. Meanwhile, for local film experts, it presents an avenue to challenge themselves, breaking out of familiar molds to try something entirely new. It’s a space where novices can learn from experienced hands and where experts find fresh inspiration.


This challenge has become a breeding ground for creativity, fostering an environment where filmmakers must rely on raw creativity and quick decision-making. In the span of 48 hours, teams craft a diverse array of films, ranging from heartfelt dramas to uproarious comedies. The competition attracts a mix of participants, including amateurs and seasoned professionals, united by their passion for storytelling through film.


Beyond the competition itself, The New Brunswick 48 Hour Film Competition has cultivated a vibrant community of filmmakers. The shared experience of creating under pressure and unveiling the finished films to an eager audience fosters a deep sense of camaraderie among both the participants and the organizers.


“As organizers, we love watching the films when we receive them – but the best is watching them again in a giant auditorium with 100+ people. The laughs, the responses, the applause for each film, that is what makes The 48 special. And of course, handing out prizes & awards to all the winners is the cherry on top to a very fun week of activities,” shared Martel. 


The impact of the competition extends far beyond the filmmakers and the immediate community. It enriches the local arts scene by providing audiences with fresh, locally crafted stories. Moreover, it serves as a testament to the province’s filmmaking talent, showcasing their abilities on both regional and national stages.


Martel elaborated: 

“Two years ago, we joined the National 48, where we sent two of our top 48 films to represent New Brunswick. During that first year, one of our teams won for ‘Best Sound’ which was a huge accomplishment – especially against some top competition from very film-oriented hubs, like Toronto and Vancouver. This year, we are looking forward to sending another 2 teams to represent New Brunswick on the big stage!”


While the judges for this year’s competition have not been announced yet, the judges are selected based on their expertise regarding each award. There are typically a dozen awards, including awards for the best performance and the best costumes and props. The judges will be watching all the films and selecting nominees – and eventually a winner – for each category. 


As each year concludes, the organizers are already looking ahead, preparing for the future of The 48. Their vision encompasses expanding the competition’s reach even further, potentially reaching other cities and communities within New Brunswick. 


To stay updated or join next year’s competition, follow The 48 on Facebook.

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