This year I joined my friends’ team for the 48 Hours filmmaking challenge. Did some writing, did some wrangling, did some acting, did some standing around.
I’m used to having complete creative control (and with it, total responsibility) over my own little movies, so it was very interesting to watch my friends directing the action, seeing how different their vision of some scenes, and how some dialog should be delivered and so on, was from my own. And of course how completely bloody brilliantly the whole thing turned out in the end.
It didn’t hurt that everyone was talented – the on camera talent (Andy Conlan, and a whole gaggle of gorgeous young things), the DP/cameraman (shooting on Red One, just by the way), the delightful eurogirl pulling focus and setting up the lighting, and of course Dylan & James running the whole show.
We gathered on Friday at my dear old friend James’ place (it’s just occurred to me that we’ve been friends for over seventeen years!) where I first met most of the crew, we found out the required elements (one of the challenges is that you don’t know your genre in advance, they also require a particular prop, line of dialog, and character, to be featured however you like, but they must all be featured) had some pizza, and talked a bunch. Most of the crew drifted off around 11PM, I hung around and helped with the script, finally heading home just before 4AM. Getting back around 9AM, after scraping a little sleep and taking a quick shower, the actors & crew were getting to grips with the script they were first seeing, scant hours before everything would start filming in a location they’d all as yet never so much as set foot in.
Headed out on the road with Dylan, and a couple of other crew, to show them around the first location, then went back to James’ place to have breakfast (picked up McDonalds on the road, the coffee was very bad).
We had a pretty slow start, with the cast and crew drifting over to the main location reasonably casually, in fact we probably only started filming at about the same time some other teams were wrapping up.
We shot from some time around noon, wrapped that location and headed for the next one about midnight, then wrapped there some time around 3AM.
I took Dylan and the second Red Drive to the edit suite in Grey Lynn, where he’d taken another Red Drive hours earlier to Gwen, which she’d loaded up started cutting, before crashing on a couch around 2am.
I bailed, and left them to it, heading for some much needed sleep.
When I finally got back to the edit suite a bit before 5PM, it was pretty much all done. I watched a bit of polish, some last minute sound work, and Dylan considering colour grading the whole thing (we shot a complex script, with two distinct threads, colour will help the audience see this even if they’re not paying a great deal of attention – we shot with distinctly different lighting rigs for each thread, so the decision was made that it was already plenty clear), then outputting the entire thing onto two seperate tapes – without the slightest of hitches (which would make some teams cry, as the forums of the challenge website have numerous sob stories from teams who didn’t make the 7pm deadline, failing to output their tape). We all then headed up to the finish line at the Grey Lynn Bowling Club, where a crowd of hundreds of happy filmmakers were gathered in a buoyant rowdy mass, applauding a shouting encouragement as each tape was delivered to the finish line, getting louder and louder as the minutes and then seconds started counting down. Shouting out the last thirty seconds – which must have been nerve-wracking, and exciting, as the last couple of entries that squeeked in under the wire were sprinted to the line.
The ground was just thick with folk in hipster glasses and ‘interesting’ jackets. If a bomb had gone off in that room, video rental stores all across Auckland would have been scrabbling to find new staff. The Auckland blogosphere would fall to a whisper.
We hung around chatting for a while – and watching, with a degree of sympathy, as a couple of teams finished editing on laptops, handing in very late, well outside consideration, but still allowed to play on the bigscreen.
Then Dylan, Andy & I headed out for some celebratory milkshakes (I was the only one that had a milkshake). Before I dropped the Dylan home, where I hope he immediately brushed his teeth to a high shine and had a very hot, very well earned shower.
I will see our wonderful little production (and myself) on the big screen at our heat on Friday night. It’s going to be fun. I’m look forward to seeing what our co-competitors have come up with, I think we really nailed it – but I’m still a little nervous to see how the audience reacts to a straight movie – I can’t help but think that it’s easier to get a reaction with a stupid, easily written gag, than with serious dialog.
It really was a wonderful experience, a great atmosphere, and if you’ve never done it, you should think about doing it next year.
And, by the way, I could totally drink your milkshake. From the other side of the room. I’m just that good.