48 Hour Film Project -- 07/26/09

Yeah, I took a ten day break here...

Didn't mean to... I had so much to say... but just didn't have the time. I was busy with yard work (on those rare days that did not bring us rain) and with going hither and yon and doing stuff (such as the 48 Hour Movie Project)... so let me tell you about that...

48 Hour Filmmaker: Providence 2009

I had been invited by Melinda (a talented web graphics and animation artist who taught the Flash course that Jill and I took at RISD this past autumn) to join her team (They're Using Tools) in this year's contest, an invitation I quickly accepted. (Jill declined because she was too busy and because it would have been too expensive to give up her weekend hours at work).

The Providence contest (around 80 cities host the contest around the world, but not all on the same weekend) took place last weekend (the 17th -- 19th). Around 7 pm Friday the teams received their instructions. Each team was randomly assigned a genre. Our was fantasy. There is also a list of requirements that every film must meet. This year every movie had to include a character named either Sam Needham or Sonya Needham and that character had to be an addict. Also, at some point some character (didn't have to be Sam/Sonya, didn't have to be a major character, etc.) had to say the line "I'm quite sure that isn't right." And at some point in some scene a coffee pot or coffee maker had to be visible. The movie had to be between four and seven minutes long (not counting the time used for the opening and closing credits).

And you had exactly 48 hours to plan, write a script, rehearse, shoot your scenes, and do all of the post-production editing, music, sound editing, special effects, burn a final copy, and physically deliver your movie in the appropriate format back to the location where you had been given the genre and requirements.

The team -- sixteen of us -- sat around Melinda's apartment Friday night -- brainstorming, throwing ideas around, writing thoughts on whiteboards and big pads of paper. Finally we picked our central concept -- a man discovers a dead unicorn in his backyard (and I will not say more about that; you'll have to watch it) and put together a rough flow, populated it with characters, assigned parts (yes, you will briefly see me), etc.

Some energetic souls stayed up after the session to write the script (not me) and others crafted a unicorn horn. Filming began Saturday morning. I missed the beginning of the filming because I ran in a 5K run with Jill but I was there in plenty of time to study the script and learn my three lines. So I got to do my brief bit of acting... over and over... because this was done just like "real" films -- two cameras (one of which was a "steadicam" where the operator is wearing a special harness that connects to a gimbol and the steadicam armature that holds the camera and a counterweight, all of which serves to produce a steady shot even when the camera operator is moving to follow the action -- and the other was tripod mounted) and the same scene would be shot over and over from different camera positions. Thus, the scene I am in is edited together from multiple takes to produce several different camera positions.

I also got to move things around and hold stuff and run to a store to get some bubble stuff (for blowing bubbles) and take some photographs and, in many of the indoor scenes I was holding a big diffuser filter in front of a flood lamp (to produce a softer lighting effect for the scene) and actually get to see how to make a movie. It was a fantastic weekend.

So... here's the movie (if you have the bandwidth, you might want to expand it to full screen so that you aren't squinting at a tiny image for seven minutes).

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