I wish I could have blogged the experience of the 48-hour film festival as it unfolded. Unfortunately, its very nature precluded me from luxuries like blogging, sleeping, and playing Oblivion.
For those who don’t know, the 48-hour film festival is a contest in which teams of local independent filmmakers are tasked to make a movie in 48 hours. Plot, script, cast, set, practice, dress, makeup, shoot, score, edit, effect, and burn a movie 4-7 minutes in length. In 48 hours. Each team draws a random genre, and are given a character, prop, and line of dialog to include in their movie. This helps to insure that the movies were actually made during the 48 hours. The prize? Nothing. Well, if you turn your movie in on time, you are guaranteed to get it shown the following week. And the best films in the nation do get pressed on a DVD and get nationwide distribution. The best movie out of all the movies might get something, but I don’t really know or care what that might be. My meager goal was to make a movie that doesn’t suck, to learn a bit, and stretch outside my comfort zone a bit, and push the real limits of my sleeping schedule.
“The Nine” were assembled. We all discussed what jobs we would like to do for the movie. Since it was my bright idea, I was decreed the Producer. (I later learned that Producer means Person Who Takes Credit For the Work Of Others.) Cool. I also expressed my interest in voiceover or acting if necessary, and for editing. While I am more comfortable in the music/recording/scoring department, I wanted to do something different. Truth was, I have Adobe Premiere and I want to know how it works.
Sarah was unanimously voted in as Director. Schaff-Dog and I were to work with her in script writing. James would handle graphics, some camerawork and lighting assistance, and assist with final rendering. Jess would handle catering, and help with camerawork, editing and art direction. Nancy would assist the director on set and help Christina with art direction / set decoration. Josh would record audio separately on set and handle all audio mixing in post. Colin would write the original score.
At 6PM Jeff, Colin and I arrived at Cuzzy’s on Washington Ave. The group of festers was standing around the parking lot. Energy and enthusiasm were so thick you could swim in it. You could tell that most people were thrilled just to be a part of the event, and that everyone who finished the project would be a winner. It was a group of peers about to undergo the same ordeal, not a group of enemies to conquer. There were a handful who thought they were pretty important, but they were obvious and completely harmless unless you pretended not to know who they were.
I stood in line for the genre draw. The second person ahead of me drew “Road Trip” Hmm. Not too keen on that one. I was hoping for “Horror” or “Spy” myself. The person right ahead of me drew “Silent Film” Ick. That is the only genre we would have thrown back. I fished around in the hat, trying to read the tickets with my fingers the way I’ve seen blind people read the newspaper. It didn’t work. I drew and unfolded the slip of paper:
“Sci Fi,”I heard myself read aloud.
Wow, I thought. I didn’t even know that was one of the genres! Cool!
The prop was a wallet, the character was a DJ named Frank Mooney, and the line was “Thanks for your help. Thanks alot.”
I immediately called back to base where the rest of the group were camped and they put me on speakerphone:
Base: “So? What did we get?”
Me: “Are you guys sitting down?”
Base: “Why? What Did We Get?”
Me: “Transgender Coming-Of-Age Film”
Base: Silence. I guess they believed me.
Me: “Just kidding, we got Sci-Fi.”
Base: More Silence.
Base: Cheers all around.
We headed back to home base and all nine of us started hashing ideas for the plot. There were a lot of really good ideas, but what made the plot really come together was the location. Jess got permission to use her school to shoot the movie. The whole school. I got two words for you: “Boiler Room”.
The difficulty with Sci Fi genre is props. Do you really need teleporters? Ray guns? No, but you do need a fog generator, which we have. We hacked together a quick plot about an alien running around a school that you never actually see on camera, who turns bodies into….um….something. We would figure that out later. And it’s in Black And White. Cool. The writers were turned loose, and a script was finished around midnight.
Some shooting went on in my basement for the radio DJ, Frank Mooney. Turns out he has a paranormal call-in talk show. I played the DJ, and ran through the following lines at 4AM after fifty diet cokes and two beers.
“I believe Ann is in the room with a Basiliqoid. Ann are you still with me?”
“As we all know the best way to destroy the Gorgonese is to show them their own reflection. Ann, do you have a mirror?”
“Good, now take out your mirror, and approach the beast.”
I’m telling you, it’s hard to say these lines with a straight face.
A quick nap, then we were up and early the next day. While I attended the shoot at the school, I felt fairly useless. I was getting in the way more than not, so I wandered, made a drink run. Basically, I waited for the first tape to fill up with video, so I could start import/edit. That happened around 4ish. Totally on schedule.
I ran the tapes back to base and imported and labeled all clips from both tapes, and deleted some obvious flubs. Then we adjourned to Casa De Mallon for Homemade Lasagna. Damn. I’m telling you, our movie should win an award for Best Catering. Then back to work, I started editing, and Sarah took a nap. I imagine we were behind schedule at this point, but since I was the producer, I gave myself a stern talking-to, then ignored myself, and hopped to it. At around midnight, Sarah came down and took over editing. At around 4:30AM the video was locked down, and I went to bed.
I awoke at 9AM to find most people gone, but some still sleeping in various rooms of the house. We gathered troops and headed to Casa De Mallon for breakfast. I watched Josh and Colin sweat out the audio and music, they were both in the zone, and didn’t need much help from me.
I won’t know the rest of the crunch that day, since I had some family functions to attend, but I called back and yelled at Sarah that the movie was taking too long, and was way over budget (which I think producers are supposed to do). The $1.25 I spent on the props (gum with foil wrappers) was an infinite increase over the $0,00 we had budgeted. Someone had also bought cat litter. I guess that’s what our alien turns people into.
I met Colin and Sarah at Cuzzy’s at 7PM. Turn in time. Deadline. We made it, with a half hour to spare. Back to the Mallon Residence for a final viewing of the movie.
My mantra for this movie (like many other things in my life) was “do the best you can with the resources you have” And there is no question we did just that. We made a movie, and while it is rough, it certainly does not suck. I can say it looks pretty damn good for a group of newbies making a movie in 48 hours on a budget of a pack of chewing gum and one bag of cat litter. I can’t wait to see how it plays to an audience against the other entries.
Here is the finished project: