Sometimes the most daunting thing to an artist is an empty canvas, a blank page, or just a general lack of vision. And while it can be tough to force yourself to create something new and interesting immediately, if you’re a filmmaker, the best way to push through that barrier just might be the 48 Hour Film Project. On a Friday night, participating artists are assigned a character, a prop, a line of dialogue, and a genre. They have 48 hours to create and complete a short film. That’s it. Twelve years ago, local filmmaker Mark Ruppert came up with the idea for the festival, and since then, it’s grown into an international competition that will generate an estimated 4,100 films this year. For those still grappling with a lack of inspiration or who just want to spend an evening watching short films, the resulting projects screen at AFI throughout the weekend.

The program shows at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Thursday to Sunday at the AFI Silver Theatre, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $11.50. (301) 495-6700.