Ladies and gents, I’m here to announce that it is in fact possible to craft a work of cinematic art in the span of 48 hours. Sleep of course will suffer, and it might not be the best final product. But the enthusiasm carries you through. The teamwork soaks with passion. And at the end of a weekend, you can successfully say you created something!
The adrenaline rush from my first 48Hour FilmFest has dissipated. But from kick-off on Friday evening till the end of editing the following Sunday, I felt as comfortable as an animal in its natural habitat. I’ve found my place, folks, and it feels wonderful.
Know Your Limits
The writing aspect of the competition started off rough. A disorganized method of brainstorming. But we eventually came together, settled on an idea, and drafted it out.
Where I really gained a valuable experience, though, was in my time spent on our set. As writers, we have a certain vision in our minds while we work. But stories evolve when translated to screen. That’s where the real revision process happened.
Especially for a two-day competition, locations and prop availability dominated our production process. Crew rigged the sets, made lighting adjustments, blocked the actors. Anything from the script that couldn’t feasibly be done was tweaked. New ideas formed to troubleshoot what we had to work with.
I’d say my biggest lesson in filmmaking is this: if you take issue with collaborative revisions, stick to novel writing. Film revisions happen on the set, and continue throughout production and post-production until a final cut is locked.
The second biggest lesson: organization is crucial. Have a plan, and stick to those restraints.
Our team got a bit side-tracked late into the first night. We made up for it where we could, but our film suffered as a result.
A good formula for 48HFP success:
- Lock the writers in a room before kick-off listing off a few ideas for each possible genre. The less specific, the easier it’ll be to adapt to whatever the team picks from the hat.
- Once the genre is a go, toss out all the ideas that don’t fit it. Take notes on the other ideas, vote on a plan of action, and decide how to use what you have at your disposal.
- Follow a schedule like: writing Friday, production Saturday, and editing Sunday. And leave time for any necessary pick-ups.
Passion Begets Teamwork
Understandably, throwing a group of people together and expecting everyone to get along under this much stress is a lot to ask. But if your team is dedicated, the job becomes less of a hassle and things will get done. Passionate folks who come ready to make a fantastic project know how to and have fun with the whole process. And that’s the whole point of the competition.
Though I’m sure it’s different on union shows, one thing this competition taught me is confidence in pitching ideas as they come to you. Working as a team with a tight deadline, it’s important to share solutions to otherwise unachievable problems.
My final observation from last weekend’s project: however the final product appears, nothing is more fulfilling than seeing it screen in a theater venue, accompanied by your teammates, friends, and family.