JWU Filmmakers Take on the 48-Hour Film Challenge: Here's What They Created

It sounds simple enough, right? Create a short film with some required scene elements and submit it on time. But, when you have to write, shoot, edit and submit it all within 48 hours... that is much more difficult. However, that's what seven students successfully did in JWU's 4th Annual 48-Hour Film Challenge.

The Challenge

The challenge began on April 16, where students met via Zoom with the facilitators of the competition — Associate Professor Evan Villari and Ian Martin, the associate director of Student Engagement Events & Traditions. Students entered their teams, had their film genre randomly selected, and learned that the required scene elements were the following:

Character: Dale Zima, an organizer
Prop: A glove
Line of Dialogue: "It was really nothing."

Also, the films could only use media created within the 48-hour period and had to be between three and six minutes in length.

The Stakes

The first-place prize was a $300 gift card, the second-place prize was a $125 gift card, and the third-place prize was a $75 gift card. Eligible films were judged by two recent alumni of the Media & Communication Studies, two College of Arts & Sciences faculty members, and a special guest — Shawn Quirk, the programming director for the Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF). Judges filled out evaluation forms that rated the major components of each film, such as editing, cinematography, and use of the required elements. With only three teams in the running, everyone walked away with a prize — and a sense of accomplishment for what they had pulled off.

The Films

First Place: "Kaigan"

Erin "El J" Reyes '22 worked solo to produce her buddy film "Kaigan". Despite the fact that she is currently in Japan, she found a way to overcome the time difference to create and submit her film on time. "Through this challenge, I discovered I have a preference for my films to be based on and revolve around places," says Reyes. "Maborikaigan (the location I filmed at) was the first place that popped into my head that was both visually pleasing and somewhat represented where I live in Japan quite well, so I wrote the script with it in mind." The story gives us a peek into the relationship between a brother and sister as they each cope with moving to a new place. 

Second Place: "Juice"

Calvin Faria ’21, James Regan '21, and William Zheng '22 worked together on this mockumentary inspired by the O.J. Simpson trials (and the fact that their required prop was a glove). Though Zheng is studying remotely in China, the team found a way to coordinate and work around the 12-hour time difference. The film is an interview with a "true crime" aesthetic that puts an intense spin on the mockumentary genre. 

Third Place: "The Organ-izer"

Sean Magee '24 , Liz Rivera '22, and George Lanzot '23 opted to take a very unique and humorous approach to their required prop and character. "The Organ-izer", a dark comedy, interviews a man who created a one-of-a-kind glove that makes organ music sounds whenever the person wearing it touches something. Magee's stellar comedic performance will keep you laughing throughout the entire film. 


The Conclusion: Our students are creative, resilient storytellers.

"This year’s 48 was vastly different from past iterations," says Associate Professor Evan Villari, who runs the competition each year. "Despite all the challenges we have been faced with over the past year with so much having been stripped away, the student films are evidence that there still remains something no pandemic will ever be able to modify, cancel or postpone – their creativity. Each filmmaker should be proud of their output in the face of adversity, and the 48-Hour Film Challenge continues to be a celebration of our students’ uncompromising drive to tell stories.”