48 Hour Challenge with filmSPARK

A few weeks ago, during our monthly meeting, a member of The RTP “Let’s Make a Movie” Meetup group mentioned the SPARKcon Festival coming up in Raleigh.  SPARKcon has been going on for 6 years and last year they added a 48 Hour Film Challenge to their filmSPARK.  At first I was a little hesitant about doing the challenge for a few reasons.  One, the 48 Hour Film Project, cost over $100 to enter, so I didn’t know how much this would cost.  Second, it was very short notice, so I didn’t now how many people I could get to do the film.  And finally, I had to okay it with the wife, since she enjoys spending time with her husband on the weekends.  Well, I found out that the challenge was free, the wife was okay with me filming for the weekend and so I set out to get recruits from the group.  I was surprised to get more than a handful of people signed up, even if I had some communication issues.  Also, my main camera guy said he was available for the shooting day, which would make life easier for me.

On Friday Sept. 9th, I drove down to Mission Valley Cinemas to pick up my team packet.  The pickup time was between 8:00 and 9:00 pm.  This is a late starting time, but then it gives you more time on Sunday for editing.  I was the first person there and had a nice little conversation with the challenge hosts before picking packet number 7 for my team.  I headed on home to beat the crowd that was supposed to meet at my house for brainstorming and writing.

The were some more communication issues, but eventually everyone showed up and we started kicking around ideas.  The packet contained or film elements, which were an oven mitt as a prop and the line “God, I love being a turtle!”   Apparently this was from a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, because each team had a different movie line, but the same prop.  This was different from the 48 Hour Film Project, where each team had the same prop, line of dialog and character, but drew different genres.  The challenge only had a few genres and we selected Action/Suspense/Thriller for ours.  The time limit for the challenge was also shorter, only 5 minutes.  When the brainstorming started, we had several ideas, but it seemed a little impossible to tell the entire story in the short amount of time.  Most of our ideas when down the path of The Tortoise and The Hare, due to the nature of the line.  We even pondered doing a car chase.  In the end, we decided to go with a simple story of a person suffering from agoraphobia attempting to make her way outside.  After coming up with the basics of the story, the writer and I hashed out what seemed to be a barely over 2 minute long movie.  I wasn’t very pleased with the length.

On Saturday morning, I woke up at my normal time and started prepping my house for the shoot.  I had to clean out my kitchen of stuff and set the stage.  The benefit of this was, after the movie was done, my kitchen was picked up and clean!  After everyone showed up, we gave the actors their lines to go over and I walked out the first shot with the camera guy.  After a few walk through shots, we put the actress in her spot and started filming.  The great thing is, we only did a couple of test shots and then we were off to the races with the rest of the shots.  A couple of our actors had to wait around until 2 pm to say their lines, but that gave them more time to rehearse. In fact, the other female actor was rehearsing while looking through the sliding glass door at the back of my house.  At first we thought she was trying to say something to us, but then realized she was just going over her lines.  After a while, it seemed a little creepy.

Since the camera guy has a bunch of equipment, we setup a spot light and put a mic on the main character, just in case the volume from the camera wasn’t good enough.  In the end, we used only the sound from the camera.  We completed filming before 4 pm and tried to wait for the sun to get in a better position for a particular through the window shot.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work out and the shot wasn’t used.  After downloading the files, the editor started to work on the shots.  I download the film as well, but not the audio. Thinking that I would wait and get it from the editor, I didn’t do any editing, instead I cleaned up the house and called the wife to let her know we were done for the evening.

On Sunday, the editor and writer came over and we started cutting everything together.  After getting the rough cut down to a almost final cut, I got a hold of my F/X guy and we headed over to his place to add special effects.  Well, he had computer issues the week before and the editor’s computer kept putting out glitchy versions.  After attempts to do this and attempts to do that, we loaded the entire footage on to the F/X guys computer and he put in the special effects.  We didn’t have time to adjust the color, but I thought it looked fine.  With about 20 minutes to spare, I headed back to Mission Valley to drop off the final product.

The most frustrating part of this was the fact that we finished filming early on Saturday and Sunday was spent waiting for files to load.   Lesson to be learned, downsize the footage before editing.  The play back of the video submitted seemed to skip and jitter.  However, when the F/X guy played it again later and uploaded it to YouTube, everything seemed fine.  So, I just put the thought aside that there was something wrong with the film and waited until the screening.

On Sunday Sept. 17 at Kings in downtown Raleigh, they showed the 14 entries of which 12 qualified for.  Some of the films seemed much longer than 5 minutes, some had stories that didn’t seem to go anywhere and then there were some good films.  At most, I didn’t think we would win, but possibly be in the top of the group.  And that’s what happened.  A mockumentary about reality tv’s won the overall award, deserving so.   Our film, plus two others won honorable mentions.  I’m very proud of this film and I think it is my best film to date.  After a year, I think I’m getting a better at this movie stuff.

For your viewing pleasure : A Step Outside

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ywVWzM2C7o

About DeanLogic
Dean has been playing around with programming ever since his family got an IBM PC back in the early 80's. Things have changed since BASICA and Dean has dabbled in HTML, JavaScript, Action Script, Flex, Flash, PHP, C#, C++, J2ME and SQL. On this site Dean likes to share his adventures in coding. And since programming isn't enough of a time killer, Dean has also picked up the hobby of short film creation.

About DeanLogic

Dean has been playing around with programming ever since his family got an IBM PC back in the early 80's. Things have changed since BASICA and Dean has dabbled in HTML, JavaScript, Action Script, Flex, Flash, PHP, C#, C++, J2ME and SQL. On this site Dean likes to share his adventures in coding. And since programming isn't enough of a time killer, Dean has also picked up the hobby of short film creation.