Hey, remember that guitar I got painted a couple months ago? Well, shortly after dropping it off, Don, the man behind the airbrush, asked me if I’d ever done the 48 Hour Film Project. I hadn’t. He mentioned he’d done it before, and that there was one coming up in July—would I be interested? Like an idiot (but, not in a bad way), I said, “Sure.”
Fast FWD to May, when I got in touch with a couple of people to see if they wanted to be on the team. Several said yes. And so, we set up a meeting at Fantabulous Balloons, Don’s shop, and tossed around some ideas for how we’d play it. See, here’s the thing. You can’t really call it pre-production. How the Project works is, you enter, you tell ‘em your team name, and then you send someone to the kickoff event on Friday night. This year, it was last Friday—Friday the 13th. At the event, the team leader gets a packet, which includes your requirements. Until you see this package? You can’t really do much. You don’t know what genre you’ll draw, you don’t know what prop you’ll have to include in your short, you don’t know the character you’ll have to work in, and you don’t have the line of dialogue that has to be delivered.
See the ‘fun’ in the challenge? You go in clueless, you have to write the script, include all these elements, assign your just-created roles to the talent you have available, and shoot, 100% guerrilla style. Then, you have to edit it, score it, and complete all the paperwork—Actor releases, materials releases, music releases, location releases…the whole ball o’ wax. Then, you need to get back to the host city kickoff event location (for us, it was Tampa, a 2 hour drive, give or take), and hand in your finished film, paperwork, and 2 versions on digital media with the 48 Hour Film Project official slates to introduce your short. Why they don’t just call it the 48 Hour Ballbuster Film Project, I don’t know, but that’s what you’re basically signing on for.
Thursday night I get a call after the talent tryouts. I couldn’t make it over there for that, but I’m talking to Bear about what we’ve got, because without knowing your talent, you’d really be in the hole. So, we went over who was who, who were our best actors, and then a lot went down on Facebook Friday in our team thread, as we went back and forth about whether or not it would be smart to use our two youngest—but most polished—actors in major roles.
When I was casting The Bunker, someone, I can’t remember who, told me, “You can’t hide bad acting. If you have to make changes to get your best actors in the lead roles, do it.” Which, I did, changing the script slightly to account for my lead actress having a slight accent. When we got our genre, we did have a couple of things in place. We had some really good original music, and one of those songs started the ball rolling on the storyline. I decided, since I was writing it, that I would roll the dice on our young talent, and gave them both lead roles.
That decision panned out. Gianni and Lindsey, neither of whom will be drinking (legally, at least) for between three and seven years, killed it. Mark, who just happened to be standing around, with no intention of being involved except maybe to lend a hand moving stuff? Wound up in the supporting male role. Someone couldn’t show up. So, we juggled roles on the fly. The lead actress’ sister was in town, visiting, and came to hang out. She wound up being a key contributor off-screen. I don’t even remember what title we gave her in the credits, but Brie helped us out a lot.
So, how’d it go? Overall, not bad. I only blew up once, we only had a few filming errors, couple of audio problems…ehh, the usual. Unfortunately, our entry won’t have that stuff fixed. Just no time. Little Ron, who did the edit? Kicked ass. We stayed up all night Saturday well into Sunday afternoon working on it. It’s as solid as I believe it could be with what we had to work with. And, that isn’t to suggest anyone faltered or was personally responsible for stuff that wasn’t up to par. When you have 2 hrs to shoot in a specific location and landscapers show up—on Saturday morning at 8am? What can you do? You need the shot. If it’s noisy around it and there’s nowhere else to go? You roll camera and hope for the best. You’ve got weather issues and need to shoot outdoors, in South Florida in the afternoon, in front of a church? The sound of the fountain is something you gotta live with. You run a bunch of practice takes to work out the blocking (while surreptitiously recording) and get some gorgeous shots. But, those shots create a hideous continuity flaw, which you cannot correct because, as you find out at 5am Sunday—one of the SD cards is missing all the takes with the right prop.
Such is life. We’d never done it before. A lot of the talent had to get into the film mindset as opposed to the theatre mindset. Our entry has some mighty tech flaws and a couple of iffy bits, but, we finished it, the story is coherent, we did get some great F/X into it, and the score is solid. I didn’t have many expectations going in (after all, some teams have been pre-gaming for this for a year), but the best part was getting to work with some people who want to work together again. I’ve bitched before about there being no film scene in Cape Coral, and very little in Ft. Myers despite their film festival. Now? Now I think we have a pretty good core group who want to accomplish some stuff. For that alone, the 80 hours that transpired between restful sleep? Totally worth it.
But, anyone tells you it’s a 48 Hour thing? Pffffft. Maybe if you sleep outside the kickoff event location until they call your team name. But even then, I doubt it.
Currently listening to: “Blood In The Cut” by Kay Flay