(Editor’s Note — Buffalo’s 48 Hour Film Project starts Friday and 1120 Press writer Benjamin Joe spoke with Buffalo filmmakers Giuseppe Ingrao and Greg Chittenden (pictured below) about the event. The festival officially kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Lemur Studios, 712 Main Street, Buffalo. Films drop-off is Sunday at 7:30 p.m. Premiere screenings will take place at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 19 and Sunday Aug. 20, at North Park Theater, Hertel Ave., Buffalo. To learn more about the festival, click HERE — Photos here and on homepage by Benjamin Joe.)
The 48 Hour Film Project starts Friday in Buffalo and filmmakers are vamping up their creative onramps to mesmerize audiences in this yearly event.
Film duo Greg Chittenden and Giuseppe Ingrao spoke with 1120 Press about the festival, along with their own favorite films, actors they’ve engaged with and the enduring partnership they’ve managed to keep up over the years. Heading into the festival, they expressed confidence and also talked a blue streak of projects they have coming out.
“Basically, you have 48 hours to make a film,” Chittenden said. “You’re given a genre and you’re also given a prop and a line of dialogue that has to be included in the film. You don’t know the genre until the night that the contest starts, so basically you have to complete a movie on the fly during a 48-hour period and it has to be done by that Sunday night.
“It’s something you really can’t do prepping. There can be nothing done creatively until the night starts. The only things you can do is get your crew together, get your equipment together and basically, if you want, you can scout out the locations of where you want to film.”
It’s quite a daunting task but the crew, known as Captain Unique Productions, feels ready.
Their big secret weapon? Their actors, with whom they worked with on a previous film called '4-2=2' and who share a unique chemistry and special bond.
The movie was born from a dream Ingrao had one night of “two young kids in their twenties, living together. There used to be four roommates. Suddenly two are missing.”
Post-production on ‘4-2=2’ is in its beginning stages, and Ingrao and Chittenden said that they felt the magic happening between the two actors right as the first line dropped.
“The actors really enjoyed it,” Ingrao said. “They said they felt liberated.”
Rather than come up with a feature-long script, Ingrao said he wanted to feel “care-free” and opted to turn his dream into an improv session.
“Our two actors just had the talent to pull it off,” Chittenden said. “It almost felt natural to them. We would say action and they would just automatically (go to it). Like they have this comradery between the two actors, and they would just go back and forth.
“I’d look at Giuseppe and be like, ‘are you going to stop them? They could go all day!’ … They were doing it, literally, on the fly.”
So, without question, the two actors, Victoria Estelle Elia and Harold Octavius Jacob, were going to be a part of Captain Unique Production’s 48 Hour Film submission.
Fanchon Drayton — the Buffalo born-and-raised producer for Captain Unique’s 48 Hour submission — said the Buffalo film scene is one of opportunity. Though, at this time, the situation is pretty bleak.
“With the strike that’s happened recently, as well as there was a change in our tax credit for some of the bigger studios that would prospectively come here, Buffalo is trying to not only get through the strike but also get back to having those films come in,” said Drayton, a graduate of Buff State in media productions. “So, I think a lot of us hobbyists and people that work professionally need to get together to show the governor that we are a film city — not just New York City, but Buffalo is a film city.”
Other projects for the Captain Unique team will start in the coming months. They include “Poor Lulu” and “Marcello.”
Ingrao and Chittenden started their partnership while Ingrao was working at a grocery store and the two were introduced. Chittenden went to school for film, Ingrao was a “writing machine,” and together they were able to make a couple of music videos. Now they’re feeling their stride as each project moves into the next.
“Giuseppe is directing ‘Poor Lulu’,” Chittenden said. “I’m directing the 48 Hour Film Project … (which will) be an interesting challenge.
“We’re creating a film with the collaboration of about 10 others. It should be a fun little project to work on. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”