48 Hour Film Challenge completed… just!!

Well.  That was tough!  Exciting.  But tough!

After a weekend of manic film making, we managed to script, sort out a location (just), shoot, edit and hand in a complete, four minute short film, with just two minutes to spare!

For those who don’t know how this works, on the Friday evening at 6pm, in the Arts Cafe in central Southampton, all the entering teams were given a list of seven film items, such as film title, line of dialogue, prop, location, etc., from which three items had to be selected and incorporated into a film of no more that four minutes in length.  This film had to be completed by 6:30pm on the Sunday evening.  Of course, we had some outline ideas of possible films and locations, before the event, but without knowing the items on the list, there was little point in fleshing those ideas out to any great extent.

From the list we chose:

1. Line of dialogue: “Well, don’t just look at it!”

2. Location: Car park

3. Character trait: Arrogance

We chose two possible locations on the Friday evening, using Google Maps as our guide, and wrote a draft script into the early hours of Saturday morning.  After no more than 3 hours of sleep, we made initial plans to get under way as early as possible on the Saturday, but by the time we got on location it was past midday.  Unfortunately, we had not planned on a home match for Southampton FC which was due to kick off at 3pm, and which meant that there was too much vehicle movement around the location we had chosen to easily film.  Consequently, we had to decamp to our second, alternative location, which was much better, although we still had to wait for football fans to clear the area, meaning we couldn’t get under way until 3pm.  This was far later than planned, and meant that we only had three usable hours of daylight to film.  Considering that it takes between one and two hours to produce one minute of film time, there was no way that we could complete any more than half of the film shoot on the Saturday.  To try and save time, after the Saturday shoot, editing of the footage was done into the early hours of Sunday morning, when, following another sleep-deprived night, shooting recommenced.  This was not ideal, as the weather conditions were not identical (it was brighter than Saturday), and the time of day was different.  But we had little choice.  Nevertheless, we managed to film the remainder of the film by midday, and then it was back home to edit as quickly as possible.

Easier said than done.  By 4pm, an initial edit was completed.  Unfortunately it was 45 seconds too long.  To cut 45 seconds from a 4 minute 45 second film is no easy task, and it appeared that it was never going to be possible in the short amount of time left, considering it would take half an hour to render the film and 20 minutes to drive to the drop-off location.  After some desperate, manic editing, coupled with an overheating computer (and overheating editor!), a final version was completed by 6pm.  Still had to render though!  My daughter, who was also the actress in the film, then came up with the obvious solution: render the file while driving!  This was done, and with a mad run across the city centre, memory stick in hand, the film was dropped off with two minutes to spare!

Lessons to learn from this film making experience? Location, location, location!  Make sure you know that your location will be available for use on the day of filming, and that there are no other events in the vicinity that may impact on the shoot.  Also, start as early as possible on the day of the shoot, so that a shoot in the same location does not have to take place on a different day, if at all possible.

The film, named “LOOP”, is due to be screened at the end of Southampton Film Week on the 9th November 2014.  Following that screening, it will be available to view here on the Dice Roll Films website.

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