And the award for Best Film goes to . . .
(Cue the Academy Award music.)
Screwed Up by Oldsmar's Team Unicorn.
Okay, well maybe it's not an Oscar, but local aspiring filmmakers were recognized for their moviemaking efforts last week at an awards screening for the Tampa/St. Petersburg 48-Hour Film Project.
Nominees — who, in keeping with contest rules, produced their masterpieces in just 48 hours — saw snippets of their work on the big screen at Muvico Centro Ybor in Ybor City. Winners marched up to the sound of Academy Award music and said their thank-yous.
"This is the one thing that we all look forward to every year," said Adam Rohrmann of Dunedin, who directed Screwed Up.
Rohrmann and a group of co-workers from Kelby Media Group in Oldsmar call themselves Team Unicorn. They have participated in the film competition for the past four years. This year, they were nominated for seven awards and won five, including Best Film.
"The 48-Hour Film Project is the largest timed international film festival in the world," explained Bryan Coward, co-producer of the Tampa/St. Petersburg leg of the competition.
The competition began in Washington, D.C., in 2001 and now takes place in nearly 100 cities around the globe. Like other winning films from local competitions, Screwed Up will be screened at Filmapalooza, the 48HFP Awards Weekend, to be held in Taos, N.M. The top 10 films of the 2011 tour will be screened at the Cannes Film Festival.
The idea behind the 48-Hour Film Project is to show people that a film can be done in a short period of time, said Coward, a cinematographer and owner of Tampa Wonderworks Films.
Coward specializes in event videography, but his passion is movies. Before becoming a local organizer, he competed in the project as a filmmaker. "It was like my film school. I've always wanted to make movies. My friends and I always talked about it, but never did it."
That is, until the 48-Hour Film Project. The competition works like this: Teams write, shoot, edit and score a four- to seven-minute film in 48 hours. All teams are given the same character, line of dialogue and prop that they must include in their films. To add another twist, each team picks its genre out of a hat. Then the clock starts ticking.
This year's local event included aspiring directors, writers, actors and cinematographers from throughout Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. The weekend was a rush of filming from street corners to homes to the beaches.
Twenty-three teams finished on time, some of them rushing in with DVDs in hand with just minutes to spare.
"Good or bad, you have a completed film that you get to view on the big screen at the end," said Coward. "It's a way to know that you can do it. You can make a movie."
Rohrmann, 34, of Dunedin, went to Full Sail University for film, but jobs in the video production industry aren't easy to come by. He worked odd jobs before finally landing a position with Kelby Media Group, where he directs photography and Photoshop training videos.
It makes sense that the team of Photoshop experts also scored the award for Best Special Effects. The team also won Best Sound Design, Best Use of Character and an Audience Award.
Screwed Up, a satirical 1950s training video on how not to play with fireworks, included blown-off limbs, squirting blood and an animated segment. The crew members were also the actors.
"I'm amazed at what they pulled off in such a short time," said Rohrmann, who sees himself making a full-length feature film when he turns 40. "So I have another six years of learning and honing my craft."
In the meantime, Team Unicorn members received camera equipment and gift cards to help them on their filmmaking journey. Screwed Up will also be screened at the Clearwater Film and Music Festival this month and at the 2012 International Gasparilla Film Festival.
For a complete list of contest winners, visit 48hourfilm.com/tampa-stpetersburg.
Elizabeth Miller can be reached at [email protected]