Over the weekend of October 18-20, I participated in the 48 hour film project, which was an intense experience that we decided to participate in VERY last minute. No sleep, near heart-attacks when things went wrong during editing, and last minute addition of cast and crew (we went from being a team of two to a team of 7!)…I learnt a lot! Making a film is always going to be an educational process (it certainly was for us!), and the 48 hour film project was just a hyper-speed version.
So here are the five main things I learned in 48 hours which translate across film making.
1. Choose your crew carefully for their skills, but also for their ability to work as part of a team
This was especially true as we had just 48 hours to create this 4-7 minute “masterpiece”. When you are working on a film, you need to choose cast and crew based not only on their merit and skills, but also on whether or not you can actually work with them. If your director and cinematographer don’t get along and are going to be butting heads, production is going to get held up and it is going to be an unpleasant experience all around. A film is an exercise in collaboration, and you need to make sure that everyone is on the same page, moving towards the same goal (a finished project!) and not getting caught up in “creative vision” disputes.
2. Respect your budget
Over the 48 hour project weekend we did not have a budget. As in, every single pers
on was there working for free because they wanted to be involved and believed in what we were doing. We provided the costumes (through a combination of neighbors raided closets and whatever the actors had that they thought was appropriate). If we needed props we had to find them in our Directors basement. We got lucky in that our director had all the equipment we needed.
Budgets are important to respect because they are usually in place for a reason. There is nothing worse than a great production folding because of a mismanaged budget. And it’s really obvious when a film has spent all their money on one aspect of the production and neglected another part. Fantastic Actors and Set but terrible CG?? Hmmm.
You don’t need a tonne of money to make a good film if you can use your initiative and street smarts. We did!
3. Keep your eye on the bigger picture
With a tight deadline to write, rehearse, film, light, ingest, edit and tweak sound and color on a film, we were under a lot of pressure to keep on time and keep moving forward. If something wasn’t working, there simply wasn’t time to fix it or make it JUST RIGHT. We had to push on. There were scenes where we didn’t quite nail it and we had to say, it’s time to move on, we are obsessing. This is a trap that many filmmakers fall into. They get fixated on one tiny detail or on getting something perfect. The truth of the matter is that a film is an organic, ever-changing beast, and sometimes almost good enough has to be enough. Because if you don’t keep your eye on the bigger picture of the film you can run over deadlines and budgets, and then maybe that scene was perfect… but the project is screwed!
4. Remember it’s a team effort!
Every single person on set is valuable; otherwise they wouldn’t be there, and everybody is working towards the common goal (a completed film!). Although there is an intrinsic hierarchy on set, the best crews are those that work well together and recognize that it is a team effort. We had everybody doubling up on roles because it was such a small team.
5. Respect your deadlines!
48 hours seemed like a long period of time before my team and I attempted the 48 hour film project. Turns out it isn’t. We thankfully handed in our film on time, but we were told that around 15% of teams in years past miss the deadline for one reason or another. We had to be very strict with ourselves and keep moving the project along. We unfortunately ran out of time to color correct a few of the scenes, but it was important that we handed the film in on time to be considered for the prizes on offer.
It is so important to respect your deadlines because a film production has so many elements to it including post and distribution. And if you are late delivering, you are having a knock on affect for the other elements of the film making process.
Although it was a sleepless process, the 48 Hour Film Project was an amazing learning experience and the opportunity to create and be involved in a film from conception to completion was incredible, and raised my level of respect for all aspects of the filmmaking process. I’m very proud to announce that our Film ‘The Hotel Prestige’ is moving on to the next round of screenings! This means we’re in the running for the film Festival which is happening in New Orleans next year!
Thanks to the 48 Hour Film Project for the experience and the opportunity to challenge ourselves.