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Meet the BK Locals Releasing a Short Film Each Week

Three Brooklyn residents started 52 Films as a way to create short films during the pandemic and now their collective is thriving.
52 Films hosted it's first screening in January at Freddy's Bar in Park Slope.

Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, Allamaprabhu Pattanashetty and Robert Gordon graduated from New York University film school in 2020 without a ceremony and a thesis film.

Needing some kind of creative outlet, and a schedule that would help them stay on top of their tasks, Pattanashetty, Gordon and fellow alum Adrian Mikulak, who graduated a year prior, created 52 Films, a deadline-driven collective that releases short films weekly.

“We were thinking the best way to create a situation where we can make films consistently was if we put ourselves on a deadlined schedule, and a schedule that was kind of unbreakable,” said 26-year-old Sunset Park resident Pattanashetty. “So we thought of 52 weeks in a year, every week there has to be a film and if you have a date for your film you have to put it up on that date.”

The collective took shape at the end of 2021 with 16 members, mostly other friends who also saw their ambitions pause during the pandemic. 

“That actually became a film, the asking of the people to be in it became a part of it,” said 25-year-old Prospect Park resident Gordon. “We showed up with a rose at their doorsteps.” 

From left: Allamaprabhu Pattanashetty, Robert Gordon, Adrian Mikulak. Credit: Andrew Blustein

Members pick a week to submit their work and, like clockwork, each week a new film is submitted. Membership is now up to 38, and Gordon said the submission calendar is booked through February 2025. 

The collective hosted its first live screening for roughly 30 attendees last Friday at Freddy’s Bar in Park Slope, showing the December slate of five films to a roomful of fellow creators. Gordon said it’s often difficult to get an opportunity to screen work in front of others. 

“I think a lot of the time it holds you back not knowing how people react to some of the choices that you make,” he said. “This is one place where you can watch people react to your impulses.”

Shalemar Coloma, 27, was the second filmmaker to screen her project, "Scales." She didn’t have much time to think about her film — she had already spent three months working on an animated film that screened earlier in 2023 — but her deadline pushed her to create something. 

Around Thanksgiving, Coloma figured she’d put together a retrospective on her childhood in Virginia and spending time at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, a theme park. With a theme in place, it took two-and-a-half weeks to stitch together photos, videos and a voice over. 

Still of Shalemar Coloma's "Scales."

“Having that deadline and having people counting on you for your film makes you more inclined to do it,” said Coloma, another graduate of NYU’s film program. “It has definitely renewed my love for filmmaking and has made me learn to stop taking it so seriously. It made me stop overthinking and just create.”

Membership to 52 Films is essentially free. Gordon said there’s an “anti-money” sentiment among the bootstrapping filmmakers looking for an outlet to create. There’s a three dollar charge per submission to cover the cost of a subscription to Vimeo, where the films are uploaded, and maintaining the 52 Films website, where the films are screened online.

Mikulak, a 27-year-old Park Slope resident, said the collective began as a way to help rebuild film production muscles. Now that those muscles have strengthened, the group is about building community. 

“The goal is for people to form more connections and for there to be more projects to come out of any relationships that are built here,” said Mikulak.

The next screening will be on February 6 at 8 p.m. at Freddy’s Bar in Park Slope, Brooklyn.