Q&A with Kirk Nordenstrom of Seattle’s 48 Hour Film Project

 In Filmmaker Profile

The 48 Hour Film Project is so much more than your average film festival. They challenge you and your team to write, shoot, edit, and score a movie in just 48 hours. Kirk Nordenstrom is the producer of Seattle’s 48 Hour Film Project and audNews has spoken with him to get the inside scoop.

What is the your film festival’s mission?

Nordenstrom: At it’s core, the 48 Hour Film Project is designed to encourage filmmakers to put their money where their mouth is and make a movie. The ramifications are larger than that though. The 48 Hour Film Project is a way to encourage new filmmakers to test and gain confidence in their skills and for seasoned pros to sweep away the “creative cobwebs” that can accumulate from years of working on commercials and corporate work. 48 Hour Film Project Logo

Our mission is not only to inspire filmmakers to take action, but also to reward the action taken. That is why we screen every single film turned in at the SIFF Cinema Uptown Theater just days after they complete their films. So few independently created films actually get screened in a real theater and this is an opportunity to see one’s work in front of a packed house on a huge screen. The energy in the room is overwhelming!

What role does your film festival play in supporting in Seattle’s film community?

Nordenstrom: My goal with the 48 Hour Film Project has always been to create a supportive and encouraging environment for all levels of filmmakers to meet and work with a wide variety of people. We have boot camps and networking events to that end. Each year a handful of teams are created because of these events and some go on to be career long, creative partnerships.

Seattle has a reputation for being a siloed film community; though that has been changing in recent years. I’ve always hoped that through the 48 Hour Film Project, I can create a space where people can break out of those silos and realize that we are all in this together.

In 2014, Seattle had it’s first repeat “Best in City” winner with the film, I, Charon, by a team named Challenge Accepted. They have been competing in various configurations for years, but have really developed a cohesive group of cast and crew in the last 3 years. Their 2014 winning film took “Best Ensemble Acting” and 3rd place worldwide at Filmapalooza this year. Filmapalooza is the international “Best of Festival” for the 48 Hour Film Project, representing the winning films from over 120 cities around the world. This proved that Seattle has talent that can compete with some topnotch filmmakers from around the world.

What does the Seattle film community mean to you?

Nordenstrom: Seattle is my home. Washington state is my home. I want to stay and work in my chosen field here. It’s difficult to say the least. Always scrambling for work and it’s not always necessarily the work you really want to be doing. However, I’ve found the filmmaking community in Seattle to be vibrant, creative and ambitious and I’ve found my home in it. I can’t imagine moving my career anywhere else. That’s why I strive so hard to make the Seattle 48 Hour Film Project more than just a festival, but an event to bring people together and amplify their voices. It’s also why I work with Washington Filmworks, WA Film PAC and the Seattle Film Industry Caucus to advance film specific causes in the city and state.

What is something people look forward to every year at your film festival?

Nordenstrom: More than anything, I think everyone looks forward to the screenings. Everyone is still a little groggy from the filmmaking weekend, but we try to create an atmosphere of celebration and celebrity for everyone involved. The energy in the theater is always incredible. People dress up, hand out “bribes” for audience awards and cheer for each others’ films when they play.

There is, of course, the films. It’s amazing to see what people can accomplish with such stringent creative and time restraints. I’m blown away every year.

What do you want audiences to take away from your film festival?

Nordenstrom: Attracting an audience outside of the friends and families of the filmmakers is difficult. I try really hard to attract a general filmgoing audience, because the marketing required is very expensive for a largely DIY festival like this one. One of my main goals is to pack the theater with people unrelated to the actual event and show them what an amazing level of skill and creativity is present in Seattle and Washington. I want everyone to know that there is high quality film being made here and that Washington filmmakers can do a lot with very little.

What are you looking forward to most at your next festival?

Nordenstrom: I look forward to the screenings most of all. At every one of our screenings, I spend the duration of the last film screened, in a seat at the front of the theater looking back at the audience. It’s very rewarding to see the joy on everyone’s faces as they see their film up on a real, gigantic theater screen. The awards screening is a blast as well. It’s fun to reward those that did exceptionally well each year.

The Audience Awards is film’s social network connecting audiences to films, filmmakers, film schools and film festivals. The Audience Awards hosts short film competitions where the audience chooses the best films.

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