Rants of a Digital Bard

OMG! Who gave this idiot a blog?

48 Hour Film Festival – Queen of Diamonds

Well, that was a very exciting experience…

A few months ago, a friend on mine (Mark, aka IronStriker) was doing a lot of talking about indie films and it peaked my curiosity.  I’m not all that interested making my own indie film, but I have always been curious about the process and I love to learn all I can about film making.  So I started doing some research and hanging out in some online indie forums.

I also did a search for anything going on locally in my area (I live in Topeka, KS) and ran across the 48 Hour Film Festival. After reading about it on their web site and seeing that they were coming to Kansas City, MO (about a 90 minute drive), I decided to sign up as an team member.  Essentially, you post what your experience is and what you would like to do and if any team leaders need extra help, they can contact you.  I figured someone might need some help with doing the title sequence and ending credits.

Although I started getting emails from the 48 Hour group weekly, I had pretty much forgot about it after a few weeks.  And I started ignoring the emails after a month or so.  But about a week ago I got an email with 48 Hour in the subject and it wasn’t from the group, it was from a team leader.  He was asking what I was “able” to do and how much I was “willing” to do.  After a couple of emails back and forth, I decided to join his team and he accepted.

So, Friday, July 31st, I showed up for the opening “ceremony” and met Jess, the leader of our team (Go Team Earthquake!) and most of the rest of the team.  It was held at a small downtown area bar in Kansas City.  There were 15 total teams this year and I think about 80 people showed up that night.  About 20 of which were from my new team.

Jess and his friends are primarily “theater people” from the University of Missouri at Kansas City (UMKC).  He got his master’s degree there and teaches in the theater department at the school.  Most of the group also does some Television and Film work as well, but mostly they do theater.

Essentially the 48 Hour Film Festival is mostly what it sounds like, you have 48 hours to make a film.  At the kickoff they give you a genre (Drama, Comedy, Horror, etc…), a line of dialogue that has to be used, and a prop that has to appear.  All of the creative process; writing, filming, editing, etc.. has to be done within that 48 hour period.  You can’t use any stock footage or pre-filmed stuff.  The finished film has to be between 4 and 7 minutes long.

Our team included a very talented writer who writes radio dramas on a regular basis, an incredible composer duo, a professional lighting expert, a professional sound expert, a professional costume designer/makeup duo, and some of the most talented actors I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.  Jess and his assistant Tanya are incredibly well organized and handled the production process which was mostly wrangling the rest of us and getting stuff done when it needed to be done.  Jess and Tanya had worked up a schedule a couple days before things got started so that the process would “hopefully” go smoother.

At the kick off we got our genre, which has “Holiday Film”.  A line of dialogue, which was “So, what’s your story?”  And a prop, which was a rubber band.  The writer took off immediately after we got all the info and headed to UMKC to start writing a script.  Jess had reserved several rooms there for us to use for the weekend.  The rest of us followed after a short toast by Jess.

My original role was to just do the title sequence, the ending credits, and any effects or compositing work that was required depending on the story and what footage was shot.  However, that changed during the kick off…

I brought my personal camcorder with me because I wanted to film some stuff myself “behind the scenes”.  I was extremely interested in the entire process of making an “indie film”, so I planned on being there during as much of the process as I could to soak in as much knowledge as possible.   After pulling my camera out of my bag to film some of the kick of process, Zach (the D.P. and camera guy) started asking me questions about it…

Zach is an amazing photographer.  He does a lot of theater posters and like all great photographers has a great “eye” for esthetics.  He is also incredibly knowledgable about PhotoShop.  But he hasn’t done a whole lot of filming and is not very experienced with camcorders.  I’m not an expert by any means, but I’ve been doing a LOT of work with my camcorder and reading voraciously about every aspect of filming (lighting, composition) and the process of shooting footage.  So after about 15 minutes of conversation with Zach, we decided that my camcorder would be used as the primary camera for filming and I would work as his assistant during the filming process.

August 3, 2009 - Posted by | Touchy feely..., Videography | , , , ,

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