Forty-eight hours of summer

Tonight (and tomorrow night) they’ll movie like it’s 1999.

Left to right, Chris Bales, Ryan Gilman, Jake Mierva and Sam Walsh pose for a portrait near the University of Minnesota on June 30. The group created a short film for the Minnesota 48 Hour Film Festival, during which they had 48 hours to make and submit a short film that all had to include the same prop, character, and line. Their film, The Summer of '99 won best writing, best musical score, and fan favorite.

Zach Bielinski

Left to right, Chris Bales, Ryan Gilman, Jake Mierva and Sam Walsh pose for a portrait near the University of Minnesota on June 30. The group created a short film for the Minnesota 48 Hour Film Festival, during which they had 48 hours to make and submit a short film that all had to include the same prop, character, and line. Their film, The Summer of ’99 won best writing, best musical score, and fan favorite.

Sophia Vilensky

To an outsider, the prospect of competing in the 48-Hour Film Project may sound cumbersome — but for some, it’s a task worth taking.

Over the course of a weekend, participants write, film and edit an entire short film. As if the completion of such a task wasn’t rewarding enough, the films are then featured in a mini film festival.

Luckily, Ryan Gilman, Jake Mierva and Chris Bales were up to the challenge. Both Gilman and Mierva attend the University of Minnesota; Gilman is a junior studying cinema and media culture, and Mierva — also a junior — studies theater and English. Bales, a student at the University of St. Thomas, is an accounting major. All first-timers, the three — along with other cast and crew members — dedicated the weekend of June 3 to test their craft.

At the kickoff to the project, each team drew two genres from a hat. They were told to pick one and get to work.

Hoping for comedy, the trio pulled out a tiny slip of paper: period piece-action. Upon first glance, they weren’t pleased.

“We originally wanted to do action. … We don’t have money for an 1800s film,” Gilman said.

The group knew they had a studio at Radio K to use as home base for their project, and upon visiting the location, the poster-covered walls offered inspiration.

Their film would be a ’90s punk rock band mockumentary. They dubbed it “Summer of ’99.”

In addition to drawing a genre, teams were given a name, Jimmy or Jenny Redondo; a line of dialogue, “How did you do that?;” and a prop, grapes — that they had to use in their film. The team seamlessly integrated these elements into their film: Lead singer Jimmy needs some grapes and is such a good performer that his No. 1 fan asks how he does it. Naturally.

With the film’s focus on music, the trio needed a solid score. Sam Legierski — a junior year strategic communications major at the University of Minnesota, who is in a band called Girls Only — was welcomed onto the team with the beginnings of a hit song already in mind.

The song, entitled “Teenage Dogs,” was rooted in angsty, adolescent spirit.

“Put me down just like a teenage dog,” the band sings. If your dog is a teenager, it’s way too old.

“[Mierva] and I looked at each other and were like, ‘That’s the one,’” Bales said.

Other luminous title track ideas included “Cream Soda” — a song that revels in the greatness of cream soda, despite the fact that you never seem to drink it. Brilliant.

When asked how the film’s timeline worked, the group offered a 10-minute explanation of a convoluted nap schedule. For them, midnight workmanship is key.

Festival rules stipulate that all films must not exceed a seven-minute run time; the group had to cut about two and a half minutes of footage they had intended to use for their project.

While some raced to make it to film drop-off before the 7:30 p.m. deadline on Sunday, the boys were done by 1 p.m. — hours before drop-off even opened.

In this year’s 48-Hour Film Project, the amount of entries necessitated four separate screening opportunities. At the end of the event, “Summer of ’99” made the top-10 screening; out of 55 films, it received its fair share of laurels: a fan favorite award, an award for best score and one for best writing.

Now that the rush is over, Gilman, Mierva and Bales are looking into other projects — albeit, ones that have a more flexible deadline.

The group plans to submit “Summer of ’99” to other festivals, but those outside of the circuit can watch the film on YouTube.

While most team members are excited to participate in the project again next year, Mierva is pushing for a run at the Iowa festival later this month.

“I don’t think I have the stamina to do that. It’ll be next year … ,” Gilman said. However, a quick look around at his team members was enough for him reconsider. “… At the latest.”