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Screen gems


This article was published January 18, 2013 at 1:41 a.m.

— Michael Armstrong’s Fire Engine Red was a runner-up for Best Film in last year’s 48 Hour Film Project competition in Little Rock, but the movie has taken on new life via the 2nd Chance Competition on the 48 Hour Film Project website.

Now Armstrong’s film is in the running to be screened at Filmapalooza, the yearly awards ceremony and celebration of 48 Hour films from all over the world. It will be held March 7-10 in Los Angeles. I talked to Armstrong about the film’s surge in popularity and the competition.

Q. Hey Michael, congrats on the rise in viewership of Fire Engine Red. Were you expecting the film to take off so well?

A. When we started out, we thought of ourselves as the underdogs, and never expected the film to do as well as it has. I’m thrilled with the support that we’re getting from the film community in Arkansas and the state as a whole. I’ve been told that we’re a whole state of underdogs, and underdogs stick together. It’s really great seeing that happen firsthand.

Q. What’s the next step in the contest? What happens if you win?

A. We’ll head to Hollywood to screen at Filmapalooza. I’ll have to double check, but I’m pretty sure they’ll give us a chance to clean up the film a little first, so we’ll work on a director’s cut, and compete with that.

Q. What is the URL to your voting page for your film? And what’s the cut-off day for voting?

A. The direct link is: id=67dd8f6dc981c3c4. And the 2nd Chance Competition ends on Saturday, so today is the last day to vote.

Q. Having two teams from Little Rock at Filmapalooza would be great PR for the Arkansas film community. Have you worked on any other film projects in the interim since competing last year at 48?

A. I have. We also created another short film for The National Film Challenge. It’s hosted by the same 48 Hour people, but they give you 72 hours. The contest is all online, and despite the name, it’s an international contest. Other than that, it works the same way.

We were given the genre “Suspense/Thriller” and produced a film titled III. That film won a “Best Use of Genre” award.

Q. Did you use any strategies you learned from 48 or was the plan of attack the same?

A. Yes and no. We didn’t decide to do that contest until the last minute, so we weren’t quite as prepared. Still, we had an incredible and very flexible cast and crew. It was definitely a different experience all around, but a great one. Best was that it gave me the opportunity to work with several of the filmmakers that I met at the 48 Hour Film Project: Josh Harrison, who submitted Chime; Andrew McMurry, who submitted Reboot; and a film making friend of mine from Kansas, Jason Knowles, who co-directed and edited the film. Their strengths added to the project tremendously.

Q. When did you shoot and where?

A. We shot mostly in a small room in the basement of my church, and made it look like a bomb shelter, but the fun part was the panicked crowd scene that we shot on South Louisiana Street, in the Quapaw Quarter downtown. I think maybe we scared some people.

It was the same day as the Race for the Cure, and several joggers joined our panicked crowd on the fly. It was awesome. Until some joggers we didn’t know kept running and yelling after we’d yelled cut. Never saw them again.

Levi Agee is a local filmmaker who covers the Arkansas film scene. Send him your movie news at

MovieStyle, Pages 35 on 01/18/2013

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