Sunday, 3 February 2008

Flashback: 48 Hour Film Challenge

In the summer of 2007, myself and 8 other fabulously talented people came together for 48 hours to form Team Vegetated Circumstance, to participate in the 48 Hour Film Challenge. And a challenge, it definitely was. But also one of the most rewarding events I've ever participated in.

We came up with a bit of a gameplan beforehand: on Friday at 8pm, Trish, our producer, and Amanda, our writer would go pick up our challenge package. They would then go back to her place, where Amanda was planning on writing until around 2am, and Trish, along with Tish (our art director) and Marie (our PA) invaded Amanda's living room and would begin to organize locations, props, and make calls for the next day's shoot. Saturday would be our filming day, and Sunday would be our editing day.

Here's how it actually went:

Friday - while Amanda was busy at work... I was busy at a Billy Talent concert. A friend of mine offered up some passes + backstage access during the show & for the afterparty, and I couldn't resist. I had checked with the team well beforehand, and everyone was fine with me not being there, since they didn't need an audio person (ie me) until shoot day anyway. The concert was brilliant. I ended up getting home around 1am. Sleeping for a couple of hours, very restlessly, and waking up before dawn to make it to our location (which was one of our actor's apartment) on time. The script wound up being emailed out at around 4:30 am. Which means Amanda & the crew at her place got even less sleep!

Saturday - ran into a few problems in the morning - the first was issues with parking. It was super early AM on a Saturday in downtown Toronto. None of the lots in the area were attended, and none of them were accepting coins. So it took a good hour of scouring around the area to find a spot (I ended up scoring one for $5 all day, which was pretty sweet!) Then we had a couple of injuries. First was me... I discovered that the fasteners on the boom pole were stripped. I discovered this, sadly, when the pole slammed down on my finger after I had tightened it, turning it purple and bloody. But I wasn't the worst injury of the day - that honour went to Trish, who tripped on a curb & twisted her ankle. She was a super trooper through the rest of the day though, especially since, on Sunday, she went to a hospital to discover that she had 3 torn ligaments. OUCH!

Anyway, after we got started, the rest of the day seemed to go fairly seamlessly. Surprisngly, not ONCE did tempers flare, or anyone get upset or angry. We just completely gelled as a team, and got the work done. It was great! We also developed little inside jokes along the way, which is the true marker of any great production The one fairly big problem that we had to deal with was the disappearance of one of our members. We had originally started out as a team of 10... but we discovered midway through the day that one of our crew people (dp/editor) wasn't going to be able to make it out to the shoot or the editing day. We improvised, and made it through. Finished filming on midnight

Sunday - Amanda, Katie (camera op) and I headed over to Katie's place (with a pitstop at McDonald's), allowed ourselves 45 minutes to eat & clear our heads and then came up with a gameplan. Amanda & I would sleep while Katie would capture. At 6am, Katie would wake us, and Amanda would start editing, and as soon as she was done, I'd get to start with the sound edit sometime around 11am.

The execution wasn't quite as ambitious. I ended up starting my audio edit just after 2pm. (and I had never once used the software - Final Cut Pro - before, so there was a bit of a learning curve, but not much, because I had used other audio editing software before). I couldn't be too nitpicky about certain things (EQ, SFX, mixing) because there just wasn't the time. I finished some dialogue sweetening & SFX by around 3:30, and then had 20 minutes to do a very rough mix of the music selections that Amanda had been reviewing in the other room while I was editing. At around 4pm, Katie finished off the credits, rendering & dump to tape.

The most intense moment came after 7pm, when Katie was dumping to tape, and for some reason, using the exact same set up that she had tested earlier in the week, it just wasn't working. She was on the phone with an editor
friend of hers, while Amanda, Tish and I were shaking, and rocking ourselves back and forth, and cringing while looking at the clock. At 7:30, we were finally dumping to tape, though there was this crazy box around the screen... but we decided that submitting SOMETHING, boxed or not, was better than nothing at all. Tish and I ran to get my car, parked a few blocks away, and I pulled into an illegal parking spot, while she ran out to see if they were ready with the tape. I was shaking, nearly in tears, waiting by myself in the car, where I said a quick prayer and hoped against all hopes that after all this work, we would actually get it in on time. It was 7:40, and I still didn't see them coming. I gave Amanda a call, and she told me that it was dumping to tape, and they were watching it on tv, and it was PERFECT. There was no weird box, and it was 4:3 safe! There was roughly 3 minutes to go in the process, and then we could go.

It was 7:46 when Amanda finally got in the car. I had to do some ROCKSTAR driving to get us to Queen Video ... there was a wall of traffic on Bloor, once I got there, so I ordered Amanda to get out and RUUUUNNN! We ended up making it in with 9 minutes to spare!

And then it was time for tequila, dinner and bed. In that order.

Our team made it into the top 20, and then to the top 10. Unfortunately, we didn't win any awards, but it was still a thrill to be included in the top 10, and it was definitely a great experience, making a film in 48 hours!

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