Monday, May 21, 2007

48 Hour Film Project 2007


That's the only way to describe a 48 Hour Film Project weekend. And that's what this weekend was. My team, Irony Coast, came together again and worked non-stop to produce a short film in the span of 48 Hours. That's 48 hours to write, shoot, and edit a 5-7 minute film. We did it with 15 minutes to spare.

Our film this year? "Plan 48". The genre we pulled from a hat was 'buddy film'. Our required elements (that all participating teams must use in their films) were a character named Stan or Sarah Gibbs who is a communicable disease specialist, a big pink eraser, and the line of dialogue, "You want the truth? So do I".

As usual, we commenced the evening with a few rounds of brainstorming that included all team members. Out of all of that, two must-have elements emerged. One was that our film could be about a team of rogue CDC agents. The other (playing off of our permission to use the Cactus King location, a really cool mega-cactus seller with thousands of cacti of all kinds), was the creation of the new street drug known as "cractus". Using these two ideas come up with by different brainstorm groups, we then crafted the full script, finishing at 6am (with first call scheduled at 7:30am).

"Plan 48" is about how a rogue team of CDC agents deal with the growth of a new street drug called 'cractus' that's made from cactus plants. The unfortunate side effect of this drug is a rare disease called 'dermatitis cactosis'. A breakthrough leads the team to the source of cractus, a crimelord named Hector Pinchazo.

We shot all day on Saturday, finishing at 9pm. Thanks to one of our team members, Gary Denton, we were able to use a giant military truck for use in our film. As mentioned above, we were able to shoot at the amazingly cool "Cactus King" location, as well as at a diagnostic and imaging lab, and we found a bridge trestle that was just made for shooting a film at.

We had to scramble the last hour just to get the film finished in a state that would allow it to be eligible for judging. The direct result of that is that while we are happy with the product, we feel it's at best 80% of where it can and will be. Lots of music needs to be added, some animations we just didn't have time to produce, sound sweeting, color correction, gunfire visual effects... the list goes on. Plus, our very last line, written at 5:30am, just didn't work like we wanted. It looked okay on paper, but when produced, it lacks clarity. So we are going to rewrite and reshoot the ending very soon.

We think it turned out okay. It gets laughs when viewed, but aren't sure if it will really connect with audiences yet. We'll find out this Wednesday at the screening of all of this year's entries, and we'll find out who the judges selected. We did really well last year in the individual categories (directing, cinematography, script, sound, editing, use of line of dialogue), but didn't win the overall city prize. While we aren't happy with our final product, we know now from experience that none of the other teams are likely happy with their films, either, and have similar regrets about things that had to be abandoned due to running out of time. If I had to predict if we get an award, I'd predict editing, since we had a million edits in our film, with lots of very meticulous continuity that (I feel) was successfully maintained. On a purely technical level, the 'technical difficulty' of what we attempted this year was a 5 (on a 5 scale). On some of those counts, I think we succeeded.

One thing we did that we're all really proud of, is that we not only included this year's required elements, we also included LAST year's required prop, character, and line of dialogue. And we actually think we did a better at incorporating last year's elements this time than we did last year.

All in all it was another fantastic weekend, despite how grueling it was. In a few days, we'll all forget just how rough it was and start planning our next big shoot.

That's all for now. I'll post a link to the "theatrical version" of the film that will be showing at River Oaks Theater on Wednesday.

For now, enjoy!


I'm Kelli --- said...

Victor, this was AWESOME! I loved looking for the "required" components, and I was really impressed at how you managed to insert them so that they seemed natural. Very funny, too. Great job!! --Kelli

richard said...

So how did the showing go??? Update, update!

Victor DiGiovanni said...

Hello, Richard. How on earth did you happen upon my blog and what prompts your interest in our film? lol. I'm honored, but a little puzzled.

As to the showing, it went very well. The audience laughed at all the right spots. Very pleased with the reaction. They didn't have any official results, but I got an email today announcing that we didn't get the audience award (that went to "Morning Sickness" by XLAJ, which was very good).

The rest of the awards will be announced at a special event this Saturday.

But thanks for your interest! Whoever you are!

richard said...

I'm so NOT a film producer, so no luck there!

Sometimes I wander blogland through the "next blog" button -- yours popped up today, I liked the film, and I wondered why you hadn't updated about the results. Unlikely to be a good sign, I figured, but you never know.

Victor DiGiovanni said...

Wow! I popped up as a random blog! I've arrived!

Seriously, thanks for the comments and kind words about our film. You have an interesting focus for your blog. Unfortunately, none of the books or authors you mention intersect with any of the books I enjoy, so it's a bit difficult to find an in-point to your blog.

If you want an interesting read, my favorite book is "The Quincunx" by Charles Palliser. Which reminds me I'm due for a re-read of it.

BTW, what part of Canada do you hail from? I'm Canadian by birth (Nova Scotia), and spent many of my early years in Ontario. Great years. Interestingly enough, my best friend from Ontario lives not too far from me here in Houston, and he was able to attend the screening of Plan 48. I was very honored that he was able to attend, and it made a great symmetry, as in 8th grade, he and I were part of a team that had to create a short play about a fairy tale. We chose Three Little Pigs and we won the pizza party. Oddly enough, the award for THAT contest 25 years ago had a greater monetary value than the grand prize of winning the 2007 Houston 48 Hour Film Project. Go figure.

richard said...

No need to intersect - thanks for the movie. Incidentally, I can confirm that erstwhile writers have the same financial problems as erstwhile filmmakers

Oh, and I'm on Vancouver Island, the far end of Canada from yr native home.