Best of the 2015 Los Angeles 48 Hour Film Project

Ryan StockstadFilm Festival, MoviesLeave a Comment

Every year, all across the globe, teams of filmmakers compete to make the best short film in just 48 Hours for the official 48 Hour Film Project competition. Each team is assigned a genre, a prop, a character and a line of dialogue which must be incorporated in the finished movie. Cities hold their competitions on different dates, with each city’s participantsLos Angeles 48HFP 2015 battling each other for the coveted “Best of City” award. The best of the best eventually move on to compete at the annual Filmapalooza event where the best 48 Hour Film is crowned.

Los Angeles is possibly the city with the stiffest competition globally. It’s certainly the city with the most competition… This year it broke the previous record with a total of 174 teams. Of those, 159 survived the weekend and completed their films. Nearly 160 movies played during twelve separate screening groups and I watched every one of them.

Here then, is my list of my top 40 favorite movies from the 2015 Los Angeles 48 Hour Film Project!

I’ll preface this article by applauding everyone who participated. I know how incredibly difficult and challenging it can be to make a film in such a limited amount of time, having participated myself for the last seven years. So congratulations to everyone who contributed to any of the films that played this year’s festival.

On that note, I should also say that I’ve excluded my own film from the rankings. If you’re curious about what I did in 48 hours this year, I recommend you go visit the official Facebook page for the Team Crowned Prince Productions entry: Beware the Moonlight (2015).

Narrowing the list to just 40 films was extremely difficult.  There were a lot of really good movies that had to be left off the list. Apologies if you don’t see your film listed but competition was very fierce this year.

Now, on to the list!

#40.) Hotel de Condor by Bryce Vails and Team Unsanctioned
Genre: Period Piece
A comic Watergate conspiracy film that goes deeper than Deep Throat.

#39.) Unleavened Peeps by Ariana Sigel and Team Pixstaff Media
Genre: Holiday
A situational comedy in which a pair of women take turns humoring the traditions of their religious friends’ Easter and Passover celebrations, while trying to hide the fact they’re taking turns ducking from one party to the next.

#38.) The Red Room by Rosie Darch and Team Sneaky Little Frog Productions
Genre: HorrorRed Room poster
Two friends rent a beach condo for the weekend but accidentally unleash a demon when they ignore the rules of their landlord.

#37.) The Three Bees by Aaron Doolittle and Team Rivers INK’D
Genre: Comedy
Three twenty-somethings come clean to their girlfriends about a secret pact they’ve been keeping since childhood: their monthly jaunts with Muppet-like imaginary friends.

#36.) Lazie by Arnaud Paris and Team French Connection
Genre: Romance
Puppy love blooms on a film set for a ridiculous collie dog movie in this mockumentary genre mash-up.

#35.) Archrivals by JT Billings and Team IZZO Entertainment
Genre: Fantasy
A little girl plays with her dolls while her guardians play within a virtual reality simulation, resulting in a spectacular fight sequence photographed all over Los Angeles. A layered and complicated short that probably benefits from a second viewing.

#34.) Fixing It by Matthew Atherton and Team Non Compos Mentis
Genre: Romance
A man follows his absent wife’s instructions to fix their broken relationship, in this touching, mostly dialogue-free short that makes good use of music.

#33.) The Modern Woman’s Guide to Stalking by Beau McCombs and Team Rocketfunk
Genre: Film de Femme (films with a strong female character)
A woman turns the tables on her tiresome stalker in this comic and quirky charmer.

#32.) My Lunch by Rommel Andaya and Team RAWMIX Productions
Genre: Detective/Cop
A young woman investigates her office mates when her lunch is repeatedly stolen from the lunch room fridge. A tightly paced, entertaining crowdpleaser with a solid cast.

#31.) The World’s Greatest by Alexandra Jensen and Team Do It Live! Productions
Genre: Espionage
Uproarious silly comedy about the world’s greatest spy (a delicious, cream pie) and his team of ridiculous special agents.

#30.) Gone With the Wind by Danny Schramm and Team Danny Schramm Films
Genre: Family
This charming twist on Casper the Friendly Ghost follows an affable young fart who just wants to make friends, but repulses everyone she meets.

#29.) Darling… by Charles Beale and Team Omniclysm Productions
Genre: Horror
A writer wrestles with insomnia, her pesky new neighbor, and a little bit of madness while trying to complete an article under deadline.

#28.) Chicken by Sara Farag and Team Clubhouse 122
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
I’m not 100% clear on what happened in this impressively photographed mood piece by last year’s city winning team, but the tension was electric! Probably the film I’ve discussed and debated most this year, which makes it difficult to rank but impossible to dismiss.

#27.) Tango and Cash by Tim Newhouse and Team The Film Brewery
Genre: Dark Comedy
The grim doings of a stoner drug dealer, as seen through the eyes of his adoring and loyal puppy. Easily one of the most subversive and interesting shorts of the fest.

#26.) Psyched by Laurel Barham and Team Star Moon Heart Productions
Genre: Comedy
Insanity and therapy collide in this comic con-artist caper with wicked sense of irony.

#25.) The Thing by Christine Torres and Team The Sandbox
Genre: Fish Out of Water
A homeless couple take over a mansion while the owner is away, only to find themselves at the mercy of a pair of gangsters there to collect “the thing”.

#24.) Timeless by Alexander Olson and Team PlanetFroth
Genre: Sci-Fi
Two friends sneak into their kooky neighbor’s garage to investigate the strange occurrences they’ve witnessed, only to be transported through time and memory in this heartwarming tale of long lost love that’s buoyed by a wonderful production design.

#23.) Find Me by Brett Hodgson and Team Hidden Door Films
Genre: Horror
A young woman becomes trapped in an eerie M.C. Escher-like office building while following a mysterious set of instructions seemingly left by her best friend, in this effective, supernatural creepshow.

B.A.S.H. poster#22.) Bad Ass Security Handbook by Fernando Raigoza Jr. and Team Trinoceros
Genre: Film de Femme (films with a strong female character)
On her first day on the job, a rookie security guard at a high tech secret weapons facility must follow the steps in her handbook to defeat an invading army of elite soldiers. An impressive attention to every detail elevates the otherwise flippant, absurdist tone.

#21.) CASH & McCAIN: Crime Cops of Crime by Jack Stanley and Team 48 1/2 Hour Films
Genre: Detective/Cop
An aggressively Tarantino-esque, over-the-top (but hilarious) cop spoof co-starring B-movie character actor Myles Cranford.

#20.) The Porlock by Will Myers and Team Double Deuce
Genre: Dark Comedy
A song writer, having awoken from a dream in which he’s performed a musical masterpiece, struggles to retain the notes to the song after being interrupted by a boorish neighbor, in this cinematic nod to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s unfinished Kubla Khan poem.

#19.) Passage 379 by Guilherme Pereira and Team Kid McLain Films
Genre: Horror
A group of friends find themselves on the wrong side of a prank when they invoke a demon while reading the pages of an ancient spell.

#18.) Zoe and the Prince by Susan Papa and Team MOXIE
Genre: Romance
A genre-bending fantasy/sci-fi about true love and a Zoe and the Prince postercaptured space prince, with an impressive cast and an ambitious wardrobe/production design.

#17.) Cures Anything by Nathaniel Nauert and Team HD Savannah
Genre: Holiday
A young woman and her best friend try to honor her recently passed mother by preparing one of Mom’s recipes on Mother’s Day. The results are effectively touching and the clever title makes for a nice touch.

#16.) Rerouting by Frank Mohler and Team Slushpile Entertainment
Genre: Family
Three people heatedly discuss a May/December romance while driving, in this clever comedy with a lively cast, a smart script, a bunch of twists, and solid direction that features a structure that’s masked to appear as one-take.

#15.) Curiosity by Jazzy Byner and Team Nightpantz
Genre: Detective/Cop
A detective scours the gritty streets of Los Angeles looking for his client’s missing loved one in this bleak but satisfying tale with an “a-ha” finish.

#14.) Too Much to Cover by Tom Hatfield and Team Alchemical
Genre: Comedy
This biting satire skewers celebrity blowhards in its depiction of an interviewer tasked with capturing the essence of an obnoxious movie star with a shallow, egotistical world view. Hilarious and all too familiar!

#13.) Watchman by Bryce Marck and Team Macabre Hobby
Genre: Detective/Cop
A private investigator has three simple rules for keeping his client alive in this twisted, noirish whodunnit.

#12.) Clone Counseling by Jared White and Team Squared Pictures
Genre: Comedy
A man and his clone share the therapist’s couch in one of the most tightly crafted comedies of the competition. A totally enjoyable crowdpleaser.

Mostly an Accident poster#11.) Mostly an Accident by Sethward Allison and Team Sethward Productions
Genre: Romance
Two people meet while burying corpses on the same patch of secluded forest. The results are darkly comic and surprisingly romantic.

#10.) Omega-Man by AJ Lodge and Team Deluxe Shoes
Genre: Super Hero
A teenage boy takes a job documenting the sage ramblings of a middle aged, self-proclaimed super hero, and in the process learns what true heroism is all about.

#9.) Cutting Imaginary Ties by Brandy Grant and Team COILED IT Films
Genre: Inspirational
Fantastic writing and acting elevates this mockumentary about an exterminator who rids the world of children’s imaginary friends.

#8.) Rolling with the Punches by Elisa Morse and Team Don’t Quit Your Seagull
Genre: Holiday
On 4/20, a man with a pregnant girlfriend attempts to enjoy the one day of the year when he can get unrepentantly stoned. The resulting film is unexpectedly serious, awkward and brutally honest while deftly juggling dark comedy and pointed drama in equal measure. An absolute gem of the competition which should win a number of nominations if there’s any justice in the world, but will probably (sadly) go unnoticed.

#7.) Stalled by Junior Ruiz and Team Silver Icon
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
A woman pulls into a parking lot when her car overheats, only to find she’s being watched by a frightening stranger, in this unassuming potboiler. The direction reveals a solid grasp of the genre as fear propels the story toward an inevitable climax. The top-notch performance by its lead actress coupled with a sharp screenplay makes this one of the tightest films of the competition. A better, more effective score would really make this one pop, but such is the limitations of 48 Hour Filmmaking. I’ll be very disappointed if this doesn’t get a best screenwriting nomination.

#6.) Sheltered by Carl Hansen and Team Cultural Detritus
Genre: Drama
A group of strangers come together in a storm shelter to escape an approaching tornado, in this well-acted potboiler of character and conflict. The writing and directing are equally solid. The sound design and visual effects bring it all together.

#5.) Painted by John Redlinger and Team Bad and Classic Productions
Genre: Fantasy
This elaborate, stylized noir about criminal clowns Painted posteris easily one of the most inventive films of the competition. It’s beautifully shot and thick with swagger. Not to be missed.

#4.) Nakama by Darin DiNapoli and Team Children of the Corman
Genre: Buddy Film
Taking a page from the recent HitchBOT headlines, Nakama tells the story of a hitchhiking robot (from its robotic camera’s point of view)  as it attempts to survive on the kindness of strangers. It’s poignant, upsetting, heartwarming, startling, and very, very good. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if this takes the 2015 best of Los Angeles award.

#3.) The List by Michael Brueggemeyer and Team Amalgamated Grommets
Genre: Buddy Film
One of the sickest and funniest movies of the competition is also one of the most heartfelt. The List is sort of “Weekend at Bernie’s” meets “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” set at a theme park. (Yes, a corpse rides a rollercoaster.) It’s uproariously funny and surprisingly beautiful in its portrayal of a coroner who fulfills an old promise to a dear, dead friend.

#2.) HR-48 by Robert Cosci and Team Zontal Productions
Genre: Film de Femme (films with a strong female character)
HR-48 is a masterful exercise in suspense and gets my vote for the most intense film of the competition. It opens when a hysterical woman, covered in blood and carrying a gun, bursts into a public restroom and locks herself inside. The pace and intensity that follows is unrelenting and effective. The acting is particularly strong, but really every element of this film is top-tier. An unnerving and stark little movie that proves that a great movie is possible with just 48 hours and one location.

#1.)Wicked Ways poster   Wicked Ways by Kari Swanson and Team Just Shoot It!
Genre: Period Piece
A near-perfect film set amongst the puritanical hysteria of the 1600s, as a group of women are accused of witchcraft and summarily executed. The practical stuntwork is chilling, first as one character is hanged to death, then a second is burned alive. I’m no expert, but the dialogue and wardrobe seemed authentic to the period. This is easily one of the best 48 Hour Film Project films that I’ve ever seen and it handily earns the top spot on my list.

Many of these movies are playing tonight (Wed, Sep 2, 2015) at the 2015 Los Angeles 48 Hour Film Project Audience Choice Award Screening at Regal Cinemas LA Live Downtown.

You can buy your tickets HERE.audience award

The judges nominations will be announced soon, and I’m sure many of these films will be recognized at the 2015 Best of Los Angeles Screening. This screening (and a ceremony) happens Sunday, September 13, 2015 at The Chinese Theater in Hollywood.

You can buy your tickets HERE.

Thanks for reading!

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Ryan StockstadBest of the 2015 Los Angeles 48 Hour Film Project