Lights, camera, action: Student filmmakers put to the test in 47 Hour Film Challenge

Three female college students sit on a couch speaking to one another and working on computers.
Shoop Rozario SC ’21, Mackenzie Priest-Heck SC ’21 and Emilie Hu SC ’21 work on their piece “Houston We Have a Problem” during the 47 Hour Filmmaking Challenge. (Lilly Haave • The Student Life)

The Honnold Mudd Library, the appearance of a “Vine star” and the line “Houston, we have a problem” — all were part of this year’s 47 Hour Film Challenge.

The competition, run by the 5C film and television production club Studio 47, gave teams just under two days to write, shoot and edit a short film, which were all shown in a finale screening in Rose Hills Theatre last weekend.

The prompt for the film is always vague but requires the inclusion of a specific character, a line and a location. This year’s requirements were the “Vine star,” “Houston, we have a problem” line and library.

Studio 47 staff member Niki Chinamanthur SC ’22 explained how one of the best parts about the guidelines is their ambiguity — the interpretation of the prompt is solely up to the teams.

For instance, one of this year’s team’s character requirement was seen hanging from a tree in the first shot of the film –– their “Vine star” was a literal vine.

Studio 47 staff member Nejra Kravić SC ’21 also emphasized the uniqueness of the challenge depends on its very specific time restraints. 

“We want to make sure that [the challenge] is genuine … and it’s really being made in those 47 hours,” she said.

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Although the event did not attract as many participants as it has in previous years, the two participating teams filled the theater with creative, personal stories.

This year’s presentations included “The Library,” produced by Lucas Cunningham PO ’23, and “Houston We Have a Problem,” produced by Shoop Rozario SC ’21. With existential themes of self-discovery, community, origin and place, the films produced content that aimed to be relatable to 5C students.

Chinamanthur said that no matter how outlandish the films can get, they indeed end up resonating well with 5C students.

“[The significance of the films] are the fact that they are so Claremont specific,” Chinamanthur said. “The prompt plays a lot into the location you use. You get to see those places and the people you are familiar with when you attend college.”

In their film, “Houston We Have a Problem,” Rozario’s team engaged with the different ways we go about finding and reconnecting with ourselves. The team noted that while the process of creating a film was fun and creative, it was also very therapeutic and grounding. 

One line that stood out from their film was, “I didn’t know I needed to catch my breath.”

Stepping outside of day to day college chaos to indulge in creative tinkering was rejuvenating for Rozario and her team –– they found a moment to do just that.

“I thought it was just nice to take a break from school,” Rozario said. “Everyone [involved] is dedicating their weekend to this.”

“Houston We Have a Problem” participant Xiao Jiang PO ’22 was struck by how much the film resonated with her own experience of the spring 2019 semester. She also acknowledged the scope and translatability of her work.

“This [topic] was my life last semester, and I can’t even start to imagine how many other people went through that this past semester,” Jiang said.

Kravić reflected on the event.

“We just want to, essentially, give people the opportunity to tell their stories, and also have the resources to do that,” she said. 

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