Fast and furious filmmakers will screen movies Wednesday at San Antonio’s 48-Hour Film Fest

click to enlarge Cecilio Martinez's movie Candlelight was filmed at multiple SA landmarks, including its namesake the Candlelight Coffeehouse. - Courtesy of Cecilio Martinez
Courtesy of Cecilio Martinez
Cecilio Martinez's movie Candlelight was filmed at multiple SA landmarks, including its namesake the Candlelight Coffeehouse.

If the 48-Hour Film Project — or 48HFP, as it’s known among the cognoscenti — was an athletic competition, Philip Nelson, producer of San Antonio’s 48-Hour Film Festival, said it would be akin to a marathon.

“In other film competitions, winning is all anyone cares about,” he said. “With the 48HFP, being able to say you competed and submitted a film on time is already a huge win for everyone. The most important thing is to cross the finish line.”

Unlike a marathon, however, the 48HFP is a team sport. At the start of the contest, individuals come together to form a filmmaking crew. Each team is then given a character, a prop and line of dialogue they must use in their short. They are also given two options for their movie’s genre.

At that point, teams have just 48 hours to write, shoot and edit their masterpieces.

Cities from across the world have participated in the 48HFP since its inception in 2001. San Antonio jumped into the action in 2005. This year, 16 teams entered the local competition, and all 16 teams finished their movie — a rare feat, according to Nelson.

“Even the national office was impressed that all the teams finished,” he said. “Teams always start but sometimes edits don’t go well, or they can’t find the locations they need. Some people tweak their movie so much that they don’t get it in on time.”

All the shorts will screen at the Brick at Blue Star on Wednesday, August 11 starting at 6:30 p.m.

Director Rob Mabry led one of the teams involved in this session’s screening. His film A Dish Served Cold is about a “Martha Stewart-like media personality” who escapes from prison to take revenge on a young protégé.

Mabry, who currently works as a software development manager, didn’t start making movies until he was 50. Although he considers filmmaking a hobby, his past work has been screened at festivals including the Austin Comedy Short Film Festival and the Atlanta Comedy Film Festival.

“I had dreams of being a Hollywood screenwriter in my youth but life interfered,” Mabry said. “I never lost my passion to create and write. The 48HFP offered me a way to live out one of my goals in life and make a movie.”

This is the fifth year Mabry has participated in the 48HFP. He said it’s something he anticipates each year “like an eight-year-old looks forward to Christmas.”

“The energy, pressure and near-instant gratification of walking away after a weekend with a completed short film is like nothing else that I’ve experienced,” he said. “It is absolutely exhausting and incredibly satisfying.”

Like Mabry, Cecilio “Chopper” Martinez considers himself a hobbyist. His film for the 48HFP, Candlelight, is a superhero flick about a man searching for redemption. Martinez and his crew shot at San Antonio locations including the Golden Wat Noodle House, Our Lady of Sorrows Church and the film’s namesake, the Candlelight Coffeehouse.

When he’s not making movies, Martinez is a Geographic Information System manager for a regional transportation organization.

“As a director, I try to be collaborative with the cast and crew,” he said. “Sometimes you run out of ideas or things don’t work out, and you have to put your heads together to work through the scenes.”

Local filmmaker Don Espiritu has participated in the 48HFP six times prior to this year. His current entry, the pseudo-documentary Gemini, is about two sci-fi actors, one of whom disappears at the peak of his career under mysterious circumstances.

An optometrist by trade, Espiritu said he likes making movies because the craft is so different than what he does in his professional career.

“It’s a very stressful, crazy, hurried, hilarious, creative, fun and rewarding project,” he said. “I consider myself an amateur filmmaker who does it more for the enjoyment. It’s something that absolutely takes me out of my comfort zone. I don’t expect to ever have a career in filmmaking, but it’s a rush for me.”

For Espiritu, the 48HFP has taught him to be a more confident team leader. It’s also allowed him to interact with people he probably wouldn’t otherwise have met.

“There is this closeness that happens on the set that I don’t really experience in any other situation,” he said. “And at the end of it all, there is a movie — a movie that didn’t exist on Friday and is now finished on Sunday.”

$15, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 11, Brick at Blue Star, 108 Blue Star, (210) 262-8653,

Get our top picks for the best events in San Antonio every Thursday morning. Sign up for our Events Newsletter.


Since 1986, the SA Current has served as the free, independent voice of San Antonio, and we want to keep it that way.

Becoming an SA Current Supporter for as little as $5 a month allows us to continue offering readers access to our coverage of local news, food, nightlife, events, and culture with no paywalls.

Join today to keep San Antonio Current.

Scroll to read more Movie Reviews & News articles

Join SA Current Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.