The First 48 Hours - My first 48 Hour Film Festival
currently: enjoying Queen's Birthday Weekend.
I have a list of things on my bucket list. One is to go to New York Fashion Week with my best friend, another is to get into the photographer's pit at a concert. But what I most recently completed on my bucket list is taking part in my first NZ 48 Hour Film Festival.
What is the 48 Hour Film Festival you ask?
It's a weekend of furious filmmaking. You write, shoot, edit the most brilliant piece of work you can think of possible (with set special requirements), all in the space of 48 hours. Some make it, some don't. And when you don't, it makes you want to cry on the inside.
For a long time (or at least for a few years) I've always wanted to take part in 48 Hour. And the opportunity has presented itself a couple times, but of course beloved media communication assignments would always take priority. Now, my first year out of uni and into full-time work, I could finally answer yes to 48 Hours.
My team this year consisted of a misfit selection of co-workers and their friends, my good friend/iammfashion blogger AM as producer, and some assistance/driving skills from one amazing boyfriend. I will say we weren't prepared like other teams with high quality equipment and sound and editing desktop computers. But we were a team of somewhat skilled media industry people with enthusiasm to make a film. These are the details of those 48 Hours.
Hour 2: It's 8pm and the team is gathering at the team's HQ, Holly's house. Holly and Duncan, who are acting as our team leader and director, have received the details of our team's genre. Non-Dialogue film. Every team needs to include the character Vic Meyer who is an insomniac, a card, the line "did you hear that?", and a POV (point of view) shot. As my boyfriend Darryl drives me to 48HHQ before his pub crawl, I have a few thoughts crossing my mind. One, is that I am never drinking the coffee from the work machine again as my stomach feels sick and my head hurts. Two, I'm excited at first by the challenge of non-dialogue - seems relatively easy because there's no worry over scripts and sound, but of course I'm worried our equipment can't carry a silent film. And three, am I really prepared for what I've got myself into?
I arrive at Holly's place and find they've only spent their first hour snacking from bowls of lollies and planning what sorts of pizzas to get. They spend the next 20 minutes deciding what pizza to order.
Hour 6: I'm back home now. Darryl picked me up, after getting a bit lost in the city, and I start to get to work with some graphics for the film in photoshop, which we start shooting tomorrow at 8am. It was about 10 or 11pm when we decided our plot. For a moment there we seemed to be stuck on this speed dating film but I thought it was too difficult a concept considering it was a non-dialogue film (which meant no onscreen talking - only narration/voice overs.) Anne-Marie calls time out at 9:30pm and we all take a break to clear our heads. I tell her I'm worried we're losing precious planning/scripting time. But we get back and it only takes another 10 minutes to decide we've got an idea. A mockmentary about a futuristic world where everyone either must have a date or they will become a soldier. We broke it off into six different sequences for our short film. It's late, I just want to get this edited up as quick as possible. I can't stay up longer than 1am if I'm getting up at 6:30am.
Hour 13: I lied, I stayed up till 2:30am. I'm already tired. Need to shower and get going.
Hour 15: I wasn't the only one tired, Darryl was too and he only picked me up about 8ish to reach HQ at 9am. We begin checking if our ideas weren't as rubbish as we thought they were at 11pm last night and begin to plan our day and outfits. Everyone seems tired but eager. It's a race against the clock with the impending Auckland storm cloud on the way.
Hour 18: Midday now and we've tried to film as many daytime outside shots as we could, with me as the camera operator. This involved lead actor and director Duncan throwing a frisbee to himself, and Hayden screaming loudly on the street while riding his scooter ridiculously slow. He was loud enough to get the attention of the neighbours too, who came out looking concerned. Whoops. We're filming on Hayden's handycam and I'm making sure we're uploading shots between breaks while everyone gets set up with the next scene and make up (and a bit of a snack.)
Hour 18.5: Hayden owns a Grumpy Cat mask. We have to put it to use. Alessandra is taking selfies.
Hour 19: We were in the middle of filming Hayden/Vic Meyer's insomniac hallucination scene and the mention of flashing lights in the corner has started a impromptu rave in the room. We're in good spirits despite the rain coming down and the dropping battery life. We're going to need to charge our single handy-cam battery soon.
Hour 19.5: Hayden's shots finished. We're shooting much faster than we could have planned - which is great! Anne Marie's done my make-up as I'm now acting as one of the dates in the next scene we're shooting, and now she's getting onto Duncan's with some fab glitter panda eyes going on. Battery's on 9 minutes of life left so we need to charge as soon as we get to Hayden's apartment garage. Also, Darryl, who left before we started shooting, was meant to bring me lunch at some stage...
Hour 20: We're at the garage now and it's bizarre. These cars are stacked one upon the other like bunk beds, with futuristic ramps. Perfect location really, though we're worried that someone will come in and see we're using their carport and ask us to move. We're waiting for the camera battery to charge, so we're prepping as much as we can of these dating shots. Holly and I are working out the texting scene which I'm going to act in - which will be difficult cause I am awful with typing on touch phones. Hayden is in charge of the location and watching out for the building guy. Darryl's here and he's eating the Nandos he bought him and I for lunch.
Hour 20.25: Hayden owns a pink haired wig. Everyone decides I should wear it for my scene. I kinda like the colour - very Romana Flowers/Scott Pilgrim vs The World, though someone says Crazy Asian Knives Chau. Who am I to be picky?
Hour 20.75: Camera battery is charged enough, we're about ready to roll. Also rolling is Hayden's DIY Dolly he's created with a plank of wood, a skateboard and a towel for cushioning. We're discussing team intro and how we should film with it. In the end, Alessandra just sits on it.
Hour 22: I've finally eaten lunch! Darryl got me a delicious and large chicken burger which I ate in Hayden's apartment. Also in that time, Alessandra, Anne Marie and Darryl left, then the girls came back with posters printed so we could make a reference to it for one of the scenes. More filming to be done and the weather is beginning to get colder and wetter. But we soldier on.
Hour 23: THIS WEATHER SUCKS. While Anne Marie, Alessandra, Lucy and Holly sit in the car convoy, Duncan, Sam and I are filming in a tunnel. There aren't meant to be cars in the shot but there are SO MANY CARS coming through the background. I have 6 minutes of battery left by the time we hurriedly finish filming.
Hour 24: Dinner break! Five of us left now and we drive to a nearby Mediterrainian restaurant from our HQ, which gives us a good amount of time to charge the camera battery again. Anne Marie has us put under a one hour "no 48 Hour Talk" ban so we can relax and eat our food. I'm still full from "lunch time" and my throat is killing me - so I only order jasmine tea in hope to strengthen my throat for the rest of the night.
Hour 26: After our one hour ban was up, we planned our next selection of shots. We quickly went to film at a Westfield carpark till the security guard asked us to leave on 10 minutes later. He said we were the fourth team he had seen that night trying to film in the Westfield carpark. Thankfully we had just finished his shots as we saw him going towards another team on our carpark floor shooting fake guns at each other. We moved on, picked up Duncan's car for our next shot (and Darryl who rejoined) and headed for this abandoned warehouse lot for our final sequence. Once Anne Marie finished her Beyonce booty dance of course. Also, it's the perfect time for it to stop raining as we shoot outside.
Hour 29.5: Knackered. Darryl, the amazing, wonderful and caring boyfriend he is, drives me home once we finished shooting at 11pm. My throat is sore again and I had lost all energy by that 11th hour. Duncan and I were filming his opening character shots when we returned, and he just obediently filmed what we needed so we could call it done. As the rain comes down again, I fall asleep in the car.
Hour 37: I wake up to see warm sunshine and wonder why the heck was that not there the day before? I can't drive out back to HQ to see the editing team today (who had been working overnight, bless them) as all the cars are being used to drive the family to church. But I text Anne-Marie if there's anything I can do to help. She texts back (full of spelling errors which probably showed how tired she was) that I can work on the narration, which I get on right away.
Hours 40-47: So after I've finished the narration, there's nothing else I can do from home. So I take a nap, watch some youtube videos, and check the team's Twitter as that's the only way I can see where the team is up to. I'm nervous for them, nervous for the time, nervous about how well the shots turned out. We found out that the shots were out of focus due to our makeshift clapper board causing the camera to auto-adjust it's focus. I just send prayers to them, and hourly texts of the status to Anne-Marie.
Hour 48: The last hour to hand it in to AUT before the competition closes and I'm waiting nervously on Facebook. Lucy and Duncan are already at the event, where were Holly and Anne-Marie? I'm begging the Auckland traffic to be easy on them. And finally, a Facebook post I was waiting for. The shot of the clock and a "Well done team, we did it!". Relief washes over me. We did it.
Taking part in the 2013 Rialto 48 Hour Film Festival was amazing. And Friday night I finally watched it on the big screen at Sky City Theatre. I didn't get to see the final edited version till then and watching it in my seat, I was half covering my eyes (out of embarrassment for my own acting) but really proud that for a bunch of first/second timers, we did a pretty decent job. Sure it wasn't outstanding compared to some great films in our heat (with 1000x better equipment. Handycam vs DSLR - you can tell) I reckon we did a good job. It was a testament to our hard work, and you learn a HECK of a lot in the space of creating a film in 48 Hours. It's really an experience that I will remember fondly, thanks to a great and willing team.
Also, the team is already preparing ourselves for next year's 48 Hours (and prepping our wallets to buy better cameras and editing equipment.) Ready yourselves for something bigger and better for 2014's 48 Hour.