HOLLYWOOD — “The Hulk” had an astronomical budget and spent nearly six months in production. “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” chewed through $200 million while shooting all over Los Angeles.
By contrast, Springdale Prods.’ “Citizen Stinky” cost $325 and went from scriptless to screen-ready over the course of a weekend.
Amid Hollywood’s summer carousel of towering budgets and endless promotional appearances, a do-it-yourself marathon called the 48 Hour Film Project rolled into Los Angeles in June.
The challenge to auteurs: Create a 10-minute short film in a randomly selected genre incorporating a required character, line of dialogue and prop — and do it in just two days.
In its third year, the springsummer fest, created by co-producers Mark Ruppert and Liz Langston, now includes more than 350 teams and 5,000 participants in 15 cities including New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, London, Paris and Auckland, N.Z.
The task at hand for participants is to battle time, circumstance and sleep deprivation in an effort to create a film on a nonexistent budget in the time it takes an L.A. driver to make it from Hollywood to Malibu in traffic.
“We wanted to give people an opportunity to stop talking about making films and start doing it,” Ruppert explains. “The 48 Hour Film Project takes away the barriers — you don’t have time to think about them.”
Or time to rest.
“I haven’t slept since yesterday morning when I woke up for work,” “Stinky” helmer Perry N. Garrett said as he navigated the set of his mockumentary short. “It’s all right, though. I’m on an adrenaline rush.”
Garrett wrote “Citizen Stinky” on the contest’s Friday opening night, finishing at daybreak Saturday. Per the rules of the contest, he had to include in the script a large suitcase, the line “Can you keep a secret?” and a stool-pigeon character named Stinky Rebozo.
Garrett’s nocturnal creation chronicles the misadventures of a mob informant in the underfunded witness-protection program. After crafting a story involving frazzled feds, misogynistic mafiosi and characters called Milk Carton Malone and Fripples McCann, the addled scribe could scarcely imagine the weekend intrigue that lay ahead.
Denied the amenities of a soundstage, sufficient budget, caterer or digital effects team, Garrett, collaborator Bradley Bornemann and DP Joe Knee put a premium on improvisation. Saturday’s shoot included trips from crew members’ homes in Burbank to a Calabasas building development and back, but it was completed by dark.
Post-production with student editors and original score by composer Robin Fate Bealmear were completed Sunday, in time for the “Stinky” braintrust to enjoy a celebratory wrap toast that evening.
The Springdale crew was in high spirits the Monday after as they arrived at the Laemmle Fairfax along with a sell-out crowd in anticipation of the first screening of Project entries.
After being forced to work an entire weekend on coin comparable to the “Charlie’s Angels” morning coffee budget, Project participants were more than ready to sit back and watch their efforts unspool.
At the screening, Garrett, Bornemann and crew enjoyed the energetic applause for their film. The crowd especially sparked to Garrett’s required line of dialogue, which appeared in the film as a banner screensaver during a mock interview.
A panel of judges including Valhalla Pictures producer Geoff Stier and Disney Feature Animation story editor Kelley Rarey agreed with the crowd, picking “Citizen Stinky” as “Best in Show” for L.A.
Not one to get caught up in the “Stink” of success, Garrett has his eye on the next competition.
“We’re ready to rack ’em up again. Maybe enter the National Film Challenge (a similar event also organized by the 48 Hour team). You keep plugging in Hollywood.”