The 48 Hour Film Project (48hourfilm.com). Some might call us crazy, others might call us genius. We are the people who write, film and edit a movie in 48 hours.
This past weekend the Kansas City 48 boasted 300 participants filming all across the city. That sounds like a high number, but I think it was well under the real amount. 21 teams were signed up for the project. My team had 5o people, counting actors. If every team had 50 people (many might have had more or less) that’s 1,050 people involved in films this weekend.
My team drew sci-fi. I cheered and ran around the room. I promise I’m a reasonable adult.
Every team draws a different genre. Every team is given the same character, prop and line of dialog. All of these things are unknown until 6:30pm, Friday. They have until 7:30pm on Sunday to create a movie that is between 4 and 7 minutes long.
You learn to write fast and have ideas ahead of time.
I co-wrote a sci-fi script with a playwright, which was weird and slightly advantageous. If screenwriters are supposed to be good at writing images, playwrights should’ve mastered the art of dialog. Together, we formed a slightly eccentric writing team that was able to produce a 5 page script before midnight.
An alien script, too.
Shooting commenced at 10am on Saturday and ended by 9pm. This is actually an average day for filmmaking, but that night was anything but average. The editors worked through the darkness. I went home and slept. When I returned on Sunday morning to our H.Q., I found that the majority of the film was done. Some touch-ups and tweaking would improve it, but it didn’t look like 7:30pm would be an issue.
Then I discovered how much we had to go on special effects.
Sunday became a very long day of waiting. I was a writer for this project. What could I do to help speed up the editing? 6pm rolled around and we were still exporting. 6:30. Still exporting. 7pm. The director and producers ran out the door and sped to the drop-off point, burning a DVD in the car on the way, no time to double-check the film.
They made it with 3 minutes to spare.
Then they watched the film. I was gone at this point. I couldn’t take the waiting anymore. I was safely at home, ready for some Olympics. That’s when I got the texts. “The sound is messed up and they forgot the subtitles.” “Some of the scenes were cut off oddly and they cut out the line.”
They cut out the line. That meant we were disqualified from winning. You have to have all the elements to win. Our dreams of Filmapalooza were dashed. Dead.
48 hours of little sleep, little food, little down time and we were left with…what? No chance for the prize? I guess so. But we did make a movie. And with some corrections it’s pretty kick-butt. Not to mention it’s still being shown with all the other finished films from this weekend.
Thinking back to the moment when we were given sci-fi, I have to smile. All that cheering and excitement. All that planning and writing and filming and editing and chatting and laughing and racing…48 hours of film.
I wouldn’t miss it for anything.