Posts Tagged ‘48HFP’

The First 48 (part 3)

Friday, October 9th, 2009

First Signs of Problems

If you’ve ever been on a film shoot, you know one thing for sure. There is a lot of waiting

One of the first “two-hour film projects” we did was called “Berlin Metro“, not at first but it came to be known as that eventually.

This practice shot was mostly arranged by our Production Manager. Our Production Manager was very good at finding locations and support for our crew as he was “connected”, being a lawyer and all. The first shot was at an empty warehouse that one of his friend/clients had just rented and was currently empty.

The goal of this meeting was to go through the whole process, from random genre, character, prop and line of dialogue selection to writing to shooting to editing.

The basic idea we had was that everyone would be included in the brain-storming process and then after a basic story idea was formulated, the writers would spend time by themselves writing the story. This basically is a good idea and as long as you keep your roles heavily defined, this works.

“Defined roles” are the key words in this case. Who does what and who listens to whom? During the first few meetings leading up to this “dress rehearsal”, we talked about who wanted to do what. I felt it was best to try to let people do what they were most interested in doing, first, then add to that as needed.

What hats were given out? Well there was the “Production manager-writer”, the Producer, the “Director-writer”, the “Assistant Director-writer”, a “Grip”, some “Sound Guys”, an “Editor”, a couple of “Actors (who ended up wanting to be writers)” and a couple of just “Actors”. Oh! And, my two “Writers”. It was all a little up in the air at this point, ’cause you never know who’s going to be with you at the end and I was a little unsure how it would all settle down and sort itself out.

The “pre-production” meeting is still a little fuzzy to me, as it was while it was going on (just because it was a bit chaotic) but I do remember some details and the production and the post pretty vividly! There was some talk about a character and a prop and an escaped killer and the writers started to put it all together. During that time, we started setting up lights in the warehouse and stuff and our production manager kept “writing” with “the girls” (the writers). (more on this later)

While setting up, one of the crew says, “this looks like a subway” and thus the subway shot came into being.

While the girls were writing, our director-writer was doing some writing of his own. He kept popping out and telling the writers, “Okay, this is the story!” He would add, “Oh, but don’t let me mess you up.”

I recall one of the writers saying, “Oh but I like that idea” and eventually they just went with his idea.


Camera blocking, lighting and actions were being set. The first signs of problems weren’t even apparent to me but they were occurring. The 1st AD had set up a way that the lights and fan should be run (for a subway effect) and had someone set up to run them. Then our “creative” production manager, who was running the b-camera decided that he could run the lights instead, to solve a problem of our director wanting more people in the shot. (This would cause effects problems, more about later, but was just another example of his not being able to think outside the box.)

During the setup of the lights, I had my first personal indication of future problems. One of the actors (that really wanted to write too) came up to me and said, “Who’s in charge? I mean who should I be listening to?” She went on to tell me that we were doing a lot of standing around doing nothing and that this was all taking too long. Basically, she was right in her observations but to me it was her attitude and delivery of said communication that rubbed me the wrong way. I felt like, “You know, you just don’t go up to your producer and say those things!” I suppose it was my lack of initiation in “running things” that led to these attitudes but inside, I also felt I should let these things shake themselves out at this stage of the game.

As we shot, and shot and shot, the night became longer and longer and attitudes were starting to show themselves. The production manager kept stewing and saying loudly under his breath that we had to wrap things up. The feisty “actor” kept mentioning how late it was. Our director just had to get another take of that shot. And, I eventually had to say, “Okay, THIS will be the last shot.”

We wrapped and everyone was pretty beat. I thanked everyone for their time and work and the “post-production team”: director, production manager and I went off to “edit”.

Later, I would discover that my 1st AD was very happy with “his experiment” of seeing how people would react under the continued stress of an unorganized situation. That, I would immediately decide was a good idea and continue on with. The 1st AD, the director and I would have many meetings as to what worked and what didn’t and, believe it or not, these personnel “problems” would eventually sort themselves out.

What I learned: Defined roles are defined for a reason. Stick to them!

To be continued…

(Next 48 Hour Installment: The Assassination at India Palace)

The First 48 (part 2)

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

What Worked and What Didn’t
There were a lot of things that worked. There were a lot of plans that we were able to make ahead of time to make things easier. There were things we should have done but didn’t. There were a lot of things that could have been improved. And, actually doing the things we planned to do, would have helped out a lot!

I think we learned what to do next time and everyone seemed excited about doing it again.

First Official Meeting. Only 3 people from this picture continued on.

Pre-event Meetings
As I mentioned before, I started having meetings in June. I think we had 8 – 10 meetings total, including meetups and one field trip. The field trip was a seminar on DIY micro-budget filmmaking by John Putch. That was part of the Pizza & Post series given by Video Symphony, a post production school in Burbank. From those meetings we did three “two-hour film projects”. These weren’t completed in their totality in two hours but some portion of the process was completed in two hours (or so!)

This worked because it gave us a view into what our weak points were. We were able to plan more accurately the schedule that would be the 48 hours. It also worked to flush out “bad” attitudes or people or views that I didn’t want to work with on this project. It was good to see what were at first suspicions, grow into actuality and prove to me that if I ever detect those things in the future, that I am right and to just get them off the team right then and there and don’t waste time dealing with them.

People intimate with the team and its progress will know who I’m referring to but I just want to talk about the particulars so that others reading this can form their own opinions. I’m not saying that those “bad” attitudes are necessarily bad, I’m just saying they didn’t agree with my desires and as such were better off doing their own thing and not butting heads with me.

So this is how that all went down:

First person I met (other than people I already knew, who would work on the project) was a lawyer who had experience creating his own pilot home improvement show. Great guy. Very motivated. But, when first exchanging emails with him, I thought to myself, “I don’t think this is going to work out.” As any successful business person is, he was very passionate and very “right” in his opinion of how things should run. He was also a very creative guy and wanted very much to contribute to the creative side of things, writing and shooting, etc. We met the day before my official first meeting and face to face we had a lot of similar interests and creative contacts even.

Being a bit pushy and slightly over-bearing, I immediately thought of him as a good production manager, someone who could get people motivated or “pushed” to complete their intended project, on time. This I figured I was weak in, so I thought he’d fit the bill for that part.

The next day, I had my first meeting. He attended and brought his secretary, an actress. She couldn’t stay the whole meeting but I figured that since her boss was going to be running the show, I didn’t have to worry about whether or not she’d flake out on me.

Also at this meeting was one person from the 20 projects project (a filmmaking group I co-founded), whom I wanted for my 1st assistant director. He of course stayed until the end of the project.

The couple that would eventually quit to start their own team where there. They were very motivated and seemed willing to take on any role. They were also musicians and it’s always good to have a stall of musicians around. More on why they quit later.

Also, there was one classmate from my Intro to Telecommunication class at RCC and one classmate from an Intro to Pro HD class I took at Citrus College. Two more classmates from my Intro to Pro HD class would eventually be on my team but the first one had to quit because of health reasons.

We had a few general meetings; organizing, talking about genres, trying to figure out who wanted to do what, getting to know each other, going to the 48 Hour Film Project meet-ups, etc. These meetings really just served the purpose of “we’re a group, let’s see if we can stick together.”

Of the 10 actors and 9 crew/actors that ended up staying on the team, they came from these areas:
5, myself included, from my side filmmaking group, the 20 projects project – Roles: Producer/Actor, Director, Assistant Director/Actor, Actor and Actor.
5 from local bands (friends and family of ours) or friend of one of the bands (All actors)
4 from classmates of mine (Two soundmen/actors, one Writer and one Cameraman/Editor)
1 from Twitter friend of mine (Editor)
4 from craigslist ads or as a result of someone they knew reading the craigslist ad (Writer, Actor, Grip/Actor and Actor.)

Not everyone made the meetings on a regular basis, especially the band members and friends thereof but we had a core 6-7 that did. This built a solid foundation of “the group”.

Three of the core members at Pizza & Post

To be continued…

The First 48

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

Borrowing from the title of one of the shows I like to watch, I’m going to talk about doing my first 48 Hour Film Project. I’m going to break this down into installments as there is a lot that I have to write on this. So here’s the first.

Crazy Horse, Crazy and a horse

June 22, held my first 48 HFP meeting. This is where I asked people who responded to my Craigslist ad to attend. From that first meeting, I believe I got three new people who stuck all the way to the end of the project. Two other attendees went on to start their own group for the 48 HFP and one more quit near the end and I opted not to bring them back on. The rest just disappeared.

There were more meetings and practice “two-hour film projects” and in the end there were a little over 20 people involved in the project, in one way or another.

The reason I wanted to do this 48 Hour Film Project in the first place is that I have spent the last year and a half studying about editing, video and film making and while reading and doing little practicals here and there, I knew that nothing would compare to actually getting out there and getting my hands dirty with some project with a hard deadline.

At first the group that I co-founded, The 20 Projects Project, seemed lackadaisical about doing the project but as we spent more time preparing for the show, they got more and more excited and active in relation to it.

Around the same time, we got interested in finishing an old project (with a new re-vamped ending) and starting using the practice sessions as “20 projects” projects.

I have studied a few film contests and the 48 Hour Film Project, overall, seemed not so professional that we couldn’t compete and also professional enough that we didn’t feel silly entering it.

I became interested in the Inland Empire 48 Hour Film Project last year but we heard about it too late to really enter and so I put myself on their mailing list to hear about the next year’s competition. Thus I got early emails about it and also had time to get things together in time to enter.

I really consider this more of an experiment in human nature and accomplishment than a film contest. This is a test to see if people working together in stressful situations can actually get a completed product and if they fail, where are the out-points so that they can be improved upon. It was an exercise in management.

I learned a lot of things about myself and different personality types and a whole lot about what not to do. I learned areas that needed improvement and I think we all learned new skills. After all, practice makes perfect and this was really good practice.

There were a reported 25 teams that competed this last weekend and of those, I watched about half. Everyone did a great job completing the task that they set out to complete. I gather that some had the end product that they wanted to achieve. We didn’t.

Stay tuned for more….