72 Hour Film Festival - Lessons Learned!

Ok, if you saw the other blog post, I talked about being on a team shooting a movie in 3 days.

Now, I should point out that we didn't shoot "film", we shot on video. Some purists out there will question if its a "film festival" if we shot on video, but lets not get too picky right?

Anyway, yes, we got it done! Whew!

Short recap, because I actually wrote the other post for a different reason, so in this post I can cover the details a bit.

Here's a link to the official website for the event we shot for:

Anyway, 7pm Thursday, we met at the theatre and were given an envelope. There were 5 basics we had to know or include:

  • Line of Dialog - "They don't make 'em like they used to"

  • Prop: A container

  • Situation: A misunderstanding

  • Action: washing

  • 5 minutes maximum length, including credits

There were some technical stuff, like what kind of DVD they wanted, etc, but that was pretty much it. After a short meeting, our crew assembled at a near by bar, which we then took over for the rest of the evening. We kicked out a band that was doing a sound check. It was pretty cool :) Well, actually, we had made arrangements to use the side room for our meeting, the band was going to play the next night. As it worked out, we had them jamming while we set up our gear. Was cool music, but a bit hard to hear each other!

I'm uploading our entry to YouTube as I type this, so I'll include or embed the video to this post when its available.

We named our entry "72" for the hours in the festival, and we shot and edited it to look like an episode of "24". I'm a big fan of that show, so since this was my project, I took the look of the show as far as I possibly could do in the time alotted. We shot the whole Control Room scene the first night, then all the rest of the footage the next day (Friday) that left me Saturday and Sunday to do the editing. I turned in the DVD with about 30 minutes to spare. Thursday night I got about 4 hours sleep, Friday night I got about 3 1/2 hours sleep, and then Saturday night I was considering working straight through but felt that I'd work better with a short nap, so got another 3 hours or so.

In all, I shot 12 tapes, plus a few hours that were recorded direct to computers. Audio was recorded both to the cameras and also to the laptops in the control room scene. That worked out pretty well actually, but not perfectly. Will definitely look at that for next time though. We loaded Audacity (audio recorder / editor) program on the laptops, and since most of our actors were wearing head sets, we actually were recording their dialog. The down side was I didn't have a technical crew, so some of the settings were wrong. We recorded some Web Cam footage, also thorugh 2 of the laptops, which looked good at first, but had some issues. Problems that could have been corrected had I thought about doing that sooner where I could actually test things a bit more!

Like many lessons you learn from a project like this, the first question is, would the next shoot ever go like this one did?

For example, its not likely we'd ever set up a whole control room in a bar again, right? But it is pretty realistic that laptops would be in scenes, so making use of them for ... practical props makes sense. I'm not really a movie maker yet, but that seems like a good plan right? :)

Big lesson was that I went into this with a vague idea, but not a solid plan. That was partially by design though. For example:

  • I've only known these guys a short time. I have shot 3 shoots with them now. While they're great guys, I do things pretty differntly than they do, and it was really stressing me out at times trying to lead them when I didn't exaclty know where we were going!

  • I had decided to have them help with writing the story, but I also had a pretty strong idea.

  • That caused a compromise situation, which isn't a bad thing, exactly, but...

  • The further we got from my initial idea, the harder it was for me to be focused and creative, because I knew where I wanted my idea to go. Their idea was fun, it was just so far from where I had thought of going, I had a tough time adapting quickly.

  • Big problem is I'm not from this area, so I really had to rely on them for specific ideas of places. I've not had enough time to really go scouting on my own. Maybe problem is a bad word for the situation.

I should point out, for this movie, I had 3 or 4 hats, which is a lot, considering we only had 7 of us on the cast and crew total!

I was the Director, Camera 2 (I had someone else be the main camera guy, but I actually had 2 HD cameras of my own that I was keeping track of, as well as 2 web cams, so that was a hand full!) We didnt' have a dedicated sound person, so that was my job too. Sound is easily a full time crew job on a movie. We could have used some help here. I also supplied about half of the computers in the Control Room. I had 2 laptops and 3 LCD monitors in there, so it looked like we had more computers than we actually had. We had the control room scene up and running, with basically everything working and ready to start shooting by 9pm, so about 90 minutes from start to finish. Not too bad! And they weren't props, they were working! Plus we did some lighting, set up the cameras, etc.

So yeah, a lot going on!

Would I do it again? sure! But I'll know more of what they're expecting of me. I knew going in this would be a stretch for me, personally. I'm not a big "leader" type person. I often struggle with having ideas but not sure how to communicate them to others, because I usually work alone. Ironically, most of the crew is the same way!

The phrase that fit the experience the best is "herding ducks". If you can picture that, you'll know what my weekend was like!

I'll come back and edit this when the video goes live on YouTube.

Stay Tuned!


By Carlin Comm posted on 2009-05-04 04:27:57