It's as fun as the Academy Awards and every bit as exciting.
The 48 Hour Film Project brings filmmakers from all over the Savannah area to compete to see who can make the best short film in just 48 hours. That film will go on to compete with other films from around the world.
It all began with the kickoff July 26 and wrapped up July 28. All writing, shooting, editing and scoring was completed in just 48 hours, and now audiences get to view the final results Aug. 2-4 at Muse Arts Warehouse.
"Everybody had a different theme," says Anthony Paderewski, producer of the Savannah competition. "They didn't find out what the themes were until we pulled them - they didn't even know their genre.
"They ranged from superhero films, vacation films, crime, gangster, drama, mistaken identity, horror, comedy, fantasy, thriller/suspense, buddy films, dark comedy and romance," he says.
The filmmakers seemed pleased with their lots.
"Most people were really excited," Paderewski says. "They had the option to opt out and take a wild card, which could be anything from a western to a zombie movie, but nobody went for the wild card."
The 48 Hour Film Project is the world's largest timed film competition. Participants from Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas compete.
Since the festival's founding in 2001, more than 330,000 films have been created in more than 50 countries. Filmmakers from around the world willingly give up 48 hours of their lives to create a short film using guidelines that are revealed to them just 15 minutes before the clock starts.
IF YOU GO
What: The 48 Hour Film Project
When: 7 p.m. Aug. 2 and 3 and 3 p.m. Aug. 4
Where: Muse Arts Warehouse, 703 Louisville Road
Cost: $12 general admission, $10 student and military
Info: www.48hourfilm.com/en/savannah, Twitter and Facebook
Savannah filmmakers have participated for the past four years, three of them under the direction of Paderewski. After the films are screened, the winning film will be submitted with about 4,000 other films from 120 cities on six continents to compete for prizes.
The madness began with the kickoff day, when Paderewski opened the envelope sent from the 48 Hour headquarters. Each group must use the same prop, line of dialogue and character in the films, although the genres are wildly divergent.
The resulting film must be between four and seven minutes long. That doesn't sound like much to novices, but it's difficult to do in a 48-hour time period.
The winning team will have the honor of their film being presented at Filmapalooza in Hollywood. If chosen one of the Top 10 at Filmapalooza, the film will be screened at the Cannes Film Festival's Short Film Corner in 2014, and the international grand prize winner will be awarded a trophy and $5,000 in cash.
"Several of our films from Savannah have won and gone to the Cannes Film Festival, which is pretty awesome," Paderewski says.
This year's competition drew 12 teams, but not all were successful.
"One team fell apart and was unable to turn in anything," Paderewski says.
"There were two late entries. They will still get shown, but they cannot represent their team, although they can get the audience choice award."
For the first time, Paderewski added the YouTube Trailer Award for the best 48-second trailer.
"Whoever has the most hits on YouTube gets an extra award," he says.
Paderewski waited until the last minute to tell the teams about the additional competition.
"They were already stressed out when I hit them with this one," he says. "But they're all ready to win."
As city producer of the Savannah festival, Paderewski can't compete. But he was a big winner as part of Jacksonville, Fla.'s winning film submission in 2010.
"We won the whole thing in Jacksonville," Paderewski says.
Paderewski, an actor, has seen the Savannah competition grow under his direction.
"This film festival had almost fallen apart, and I came in and tried to breathe new life into it," he says. "This is my third year as city producer.
"The first year, it almost didn't happen. The second year, we had more entries. This year, we had people who came from Jacksonville, St. Augustine and St. Marys."
Competitors can use the event to create a film with their own message.
"I'm surprised churches don't get more involved," Paderewski says.
"It's just a great thing for the community. It's pretty amazing what some of the films come out to be, what a team can do in 48 hours."
Organization is the key to success.
"The important thing is to put together a team they can trust and hand off responsibilities to teammates they can trust," Paderewski says.
"You have to work as a team. You need to have people who are good at different parts of it," he says.
"You have to be able to work as a team and trust each other. When everyone is all on the same goal, you just get greatness."
Some teams are large, with more than 25 people. "One team had only four," Paderewski says.
Competitors come in all ages.
"We had an 8-year-old in one of them," Paderewski says. "It's crazy. It's so much fun."
This year's celebrity judges are Annette Heywood Carter of New York City, director of the feature film "Savannah," Cindy Hogan of Jacksonville, a professional acting coach and actor who has appeared in such films as "Beautiful Creatures" and "Untouched," Stratton Leopold of Savannah, executive vice president of production at Paramount Pictures and producer of such films as "The Sum of All Fears" and Michael Hofstein, cinematographer and professor at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Awards that will be presented include Best Picture, Best Female Actor, Best Male Actor, Best Acting Ensemble, and so on, and some films can take multiple awards.
"Some films really clean up," Paderewski says.
Viewers at the screenings will pick the Audience Choice Award winner. The awards ceremony will follow the Aug. 4 matinee.
This year's project went extremely well, Paderewski says.
"I'm very happy," he says.
"I get a horrible gut feeling when people are late or teams fall apart," Paderewski says. "I'm rooting for every team that turns something in."