I just spent this weekend participating in the 48 Hour Film Project (see http://www.48hourfilm.com/denver). It’s a grueling contest between several teams of filmmakers in each of several major cities. This past weekend, the project was in Denver, and I was on the Paddy Wagon Films team.
We got our assignment Friday night about 7 PM. We randomly drew “road movie” as our genre; each team got something at random from a set of standard genres. Each team’s film also had to be between 4 and 7 minutes in length, include a character named Buddy or Belle who’s a truck driver, and use the phrase “You’re not going to believe it” somewhere in the film.
We spent Friday night brainstorming plot outlines and characters, then Patrick Sheridan, our illustrious director and team leader, wrote a script. He finished that around 4 AM while the rest of us slept. We were up early Saturday to start logistics planning, location scouting, and then the actual shooting. However, even though we all met at 8 AM Saturday, we didn’t shoot our first scene until early afternoon. Spending the whole morning sorting our logistics, actors, locations, etc. seemed to really put us behind schedule. In fact, by suppertime on Saturday I think we had only shot about a minute worth of footage. All the stuff Saturday was outdoors, and it was a hot day, so it was a very tiring shoot.
We worked into the wee hours of the morning, shooting some crucial scenes, but indoors at a house in Niwot. After the long day, crew members were falling from exhaustion, but we finally wrapped up for the day about 2:30 AM. Unfortunately, we still only had about half of the movie shot. So, we reconvened at 6:30 AM back at one of our locations from Saturday. Given transit times, and so on, that left about 2 – maybe 3 tops – hours for sleeping. So, the 6:30 call Sunday morning was a rough.
However, we made great progress shooting the remaining scenes, and the director finally called “wrap” around 2 PM Sunday. The final, edited film was due at 7:30 PM, and so the editor had been working this whole time in parallel with the shooting team. We’d shoot a scene or two, and then someone would drive the tape to her house, where she’d start editing it. Even working in parallel, though, we were so far behind our planned shooting schedule, that we knew we weren’t leaving enough time for the final editing.
However, our editor pulled an all-nighter and works at the speed of a superhero (think the Justice League needs a superhero with powers of fast video editing?). I saw her first cut about 3 PM today, and it was amazingly good. I spent an hour or so with the editor putting the film music just where I wanted it, and the movie was even better with the music!
So, exhausted and nearly delirious from heat and lack of sleep, I finally drove myself home about 5 PM this afternoon. And now, after a short nap, a hot shower, and some food, I just got the call from Patrick that our submission is in.
The film is called “Emergency Exit.” It’s playing at the Bug Theater in Denver this Tuesday, along with all the other submissions. If you can make it, you should try. The theater will sell out, I’m sure, but you can reserve a ticket online. See http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/5981 for more on that.
Based on just the rough edit I saw, and what I heard from Patrick, I think our film turned out magnificent. And even more so given the time constraint. I honestly think we have a chance of winning some of the awards they’ll be giving out later this week. And if we don’t win the best picture award for Denver, it’ll have to be an incredibly outstanding film that beats us.
Notice how I haven’t said a thing about the plot? It’s not your typical road movie. Come see the film for yourself to learn our particular twist.
Oh, I should mention what role I played in all this. In the end, I’ll be listed in the credits as Assistant Producer, Sound Mixer, Sound Designer, and Buddy the Truck Driver. Yes, they made me try to act, once again. This was also the first film I’ve worked on where I had someone assisting me with sound, the amazing Jen Casson. She was indispensable, and ironically got cast in a bit part just like me, as my character’s wife Belle. So someone else had to hold the boom pole for that scene.