The 48 Hour Film Project… two days when a group of film geeks from around the area get together, drink unhealthy amounts of caffeine, and force their imaginations into 7 minutes of creative expression. Under certain criteria, of course… For those of you that are unfamiliar with the project, it’s a collection of short films all written, shot, and edited in 48 hours or less. The project takes place in cities all over the world, and the best 12 have a chance of going to the Cannes Film Festival.
In each city, all of the groups are assigned certain elements they must include in their films: a character, a prop, and a line of dialogue. Each group is also assigned its own genre to work in, forcing the participants to adapt to whatever they are given and to vary the films. Here were the elements for this year’s project:
Character: Paul or Paula Sweeney, substitute teacher
Prop: An umbrella
Line of Dialog: “I don’t recommend it.” (Or “I do not recommend it.”)
This was my first year participating in the project, although I have wanted to do it for a couple of years now. I just hadn’t happened to fall in with any Lindenwood group willing to do it. Who I did group up with this year was SoYCD, a collection of students (both current and former) from Webster University led by independent film makers Stephen Jones and Devon Raftery. I met Stephen through a mutual friend and ended up helping him out on the production of a short film called Life Cycle, which was a very interesting project that told the story of a man’s life in his first house through one continuous shot.
Stephen asked me to step in an help him as a preliminary editor to put together a first cut of the film while shooting, also to bring a secondary camera for production. My editing laptop is the most updated of all our available resources, so we thought it would be good to make use of it. I didn’t add input on the writing process, mostly because I assumed Devin and Stephen have their own style of doing things, and I really didn’t want to clash with them or impede on it. I figured it would be better to let them (who have a couple years’ experience with the 48 Hour Project) work out the script.
Our group got the genre “Mistaken Identity”. Granted, I’m sure you’re thinking “Isn’t that more of a plot device?” I thought the same thing too. I found that genre was more of a general theme to the film rather than an actual strict genre. And we were allowed to mix genres as long as we included the one we were assigned. When I was informed of the elements and genre for our film, my mind started going in a direction somewhat along the lines of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic North By Northwest, mostly because I had watched it with my roommate the night before.
I had some theories about how to work the elements and genre into a coherent script, but they were pretty premature by the time I heard Stephen’s ideas. SoYCD’s entry for this year’s project, Accept No Substitutes, is centered around a (most likely) escaped mental patient who poses as a substitute teacher in order to convince a bunch of impressionable students to do something they definitely shouldn’t.
Overall, the experience shooting and editing the film was fun. I got to meet some great people who I hope to work with again. We learned some lessons, and hopefully we can glide over those speedbumps in the future. It got pretty close in the end when we had to turn it in, but Stephen Jones pulled a miracle out of his ass to get it in on time. Accept No Substitutes ended up winning the award for “Best Use of the Character”, which was in my opinion definitely deserved after seeing how other films didn’t really focus on the character too much.
Here is SoYCD’s entry for the 2013 St. Louis 48 Hour Film Project: