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Old August 1st, 2007, 10:43 AM   #1
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Dallas 48 Hour Film Project

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQL2GWy3PYs

I submitted this in the 48 Hour Film Project in Dallas a few weekends ago. I didn't even hear about it until a few days before the kick-off event, and amazingly there were still spots available so I signed up.

I didn't have but two actors/crew members until late Friday night when a couple more friends and family joined up (one, in a way, got fired from his job to be in it!), and luckily a few locations became available at the last minute after we drew "spy" as our category (I wasn't expecting that one, though I was mostly worrying about selecting "musical/western").

I'll be the first to admit that it's a bit cheesy, but it was a solid beginning/middle/ending for a short and keeps your attention, which having completed it under 48 hours (46 to be exact - I had to be somewhere Sunday night so turned it in early), I'm happy with that.

I used a Sony miniDV for this one, but I'm joining a local filmmakers club this weekend where I'll be able to rent a GL2 for $25 a day and an XL2 for $50, so that's what I'm using next year. It should be a definite upgrade with a 3 CCD camera.

Also, next year I plan on enlisting help with writing/directing/editing. I got somewhere between three and four hours of sleep Friday night after finishing a shooting script, and then pulled an all-nighter to get the darn thing edited and finished (which, as you can see in the Adobe Premiere forum, I've had problems running the software on my comp).

It was nuts, especially at 2 in the morning Sunday with only hours to go and I'm having computer problems and absolutely nothing edited so far - so much so that it was extremely relieving at the end when I was able to turn it in (on time) and feel good about what we had produced. We went out to eat to an amazing Mexican restaurant and then I went home to get some much needed sleep.
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Old August 1st, 2007, 07:45 PM   #2
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The last-minute crunch is always fun. I did the last Dallas 24-Hour Video Race in May, where everything starts at 12:01AM Saturday and ends on midnight. I had a crew of 3 (including myself), all of whom appeared in the finished video, as well as serving various functions (property master, costume, photographer, grip, screenwriter, honey wagon driver, etc.). You can see the version we turned in at 11:15 PM here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bO3DmeL7cU

What local group are you joining?

Regards;
Martin
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Old August 1st, 2007, 11:55 PM   #3
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The last-minute crunch is always fun. I did the last Dallas 24-Hour Video Race in May, where everything starts at 12:01AM Saturday and ends on midnight. I had a crew of 3 (including myself), all of whom appeared in the finished video, as well as serving various functions (property master, costume, photographer, grip, screenwriter, honey wagon driver, etc.). You can see the version we turned in at 11:15 PM here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bO3DmeL7cU

What local group are you joining?

Regards;
Martin
That's pretty good. The 24 hour turnaround kind of scares me after the 48 hour one, but I think I'll still try it next year. At least it is midnight to midnight, which leaves you more daylight hours to shoot and then time to edit.

It was odd seeing so many groups with credits for what seemed like fifty crew members. I wouldn't know what to do with so many people and a film that short.

The group is Texas Filmmakers in Denton.

http://www.texasfilmmakers.org/

Basic membership is free, but with an $80 annual membership and attendance to a free equipment course (held the first Saturday of every month at 10am) you can rent equipment at the rates I quoted. Just wish I had done that last month.
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Old August 2nd, 2007, 06:34 PM   #4
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I confess that we broke for a 45-minute nap around seven that evening, as we'd all been going for about 30 hours non-stop.

The race we entered had divisions based on crew size. You could have as many actors as needed, but the crew determined which group you were competing in. They also had a division for high-school and younger, and one just for starving college students.

24 hours really wasn't that tough. I suspect 48 hours would be worse, because you might bet tempted to take on something a little bit larger than you can handle. With 24, we were pretty merciless as to what we would try.

We had the rough story line done while driving back from the starting line, wrote a very rough treatment broken down into scenes, then hit the Wal-Mart for supplies and some props at 3AM. The heart-print underwear and the flag were sewn up by 4, the bathroom shot done by 6, and we moved on to the kitchen scene at first light. Next stop was to Home Depot as soon as they opened to rent the power snake and get stuff for the flagpole close-up. We spent a couple hours running the snake down the line, getting various takes, abandoning a few ideas that seemed good at the time but were unworkable. Returned the snake before noon to avoid any extra charges. Made a fake snake for the close-ups using armored cable and a piece of aluminum, driven by a power drill.

Split to the back yard to do the snake coming out of the flagpole, then rattled a length of cable down a fence post to get the sound. Made a cut-out in foam core for the drain's-eye view, shot that, then went back out for the shot of the snake entering the drain using the same cut-out. Drove like hell to get the long shot and zoom on the flagpole (didn't want a state or American flag coming out of the drain, so our choice was limited). Then laid down in a garden cart and was dragged across the yard several times while holding the camera down low.

Ordered pizza, uploaded everything into Premiere, and then started editing. Managed to pull together a reasonable item with the footage we had. Looked up, realized it was getting near 10 PM, so we declared it locked and exported the final version to MiniDV. Played it once to make sure the tape was good, then piled into the car and made it back to Fair Park with 45 minutes to spare. Returned home, slept four hours, then woke back up and edited an improved version to see what we could have done with a little more time.

It was worth it.

Martin
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Old August 2nd, 2007, 06:39 PM   #5
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BTW, the Texas Film Maker's web site is not at all encouraging. Black text on a graduated black background? The text fades away the further down the page you go. Didn't anyone bother to preview the finished pages before they uploaded them?

Martin
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Old August 3rd, 2007, 09:56 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Martin Catt View Post
I confess that we broke for a 45-minute nap around seven that evening, as we'd all been going for about 30 hours non-stop.

The race we entered had divisions based on crew size. You could have as many actors as needed, but the crew determined which group you were competing in. They also had a division for high-school and younger, and one just for starving college students.

24 hours really wasn't that tough. I suspect 48 hours would be worse, because you might bet tempted to take on something a little bit larger than you can handle. With 24, we were pretty merciless as to what we would try.

We had the rough story line done while driving back from the starting line, wrote a very rough treatment broken down into scenes, then hit the Wal-Mart for supplies and some props at 3AM. The heart-print underwear and the flag were sewn up by 4, the bathroom shot done by 6, and we moved on to the kitchen scene at first light. Next stop was to Home Depot as soon as they opened to rent the power snake and get stuff for the flagpole close-up. We spent a couple hours running the snake down the line, getting various takes, abandoning a few ideas that seemed good at the time but were unworkable. Returned the snake before noon to avoid any extra charges. Made a fake snake for the close-ups using armored cable and a piece of aluminum, driven by a power drill.

Split to the back yard to do the snake coming out of the flagpole, then rattled a length of cable down a fence post to get the sound. Made a cut-out in foam core for the drain's-eye view, shot that, then went back out for the shot of the snake entering the drain using the same cut-out. Drove like hell to get the long shot and zoom on the flagpole (didn't want a state or American flag coming out of the drain, so our choice was limited). Then laid down in a garden cart and was dragged across the yard several times while holding the camera down low.

Ordered pizza, uploaded everything into Premiere, and then started editing. Managed to pull together a reasonable item with the footage we had. Looked up, realized it was getting near 10 PM, so we declared it locked and exported the final version to MiniDV. Played it once to make sure the tape was good, then piled into the car and made it back to Fair Park with 45 minutes to spare. Returned home, slept four hours, then woke back up and edited an improved version to see what we could have done with a little more time.

It was worth it.

Martin
Wow, that's nuts.

It does make sense though that it could be a little easier - you have to be ruthless with your story to get it done in time. Only 13 of the 22 48 hour teams completed their projects AND turned it in before the deadline, probably for the very reason you mentioned - too ambitious.

That's interesting that they break the teams up into groups based on crew size - that would put ours in small company, with me being the only real crew member (though I listed others as co-producers and my cousin, who is a black belt in tae kwan doe, as "stunt coordinator/fight choreographer"). I think more crew members help, to a point, but that doesn't mean that more crew members equals a better movie, if you have people that know what they're doing.

How many teams entered this year?
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Old August 3rd, 2007, 09:57 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Martin Catt View Post
BTW, the Texas Film Maker's web site is not at all encouraging. Black text on a graduated black background? The text fades away the further down the page you go. Didn't anyone bother to preview the finished pages before they uploaded them?

Martin
I really don't have experience working with them, yet. I'll find out more this weekend after I attend the class. I'll let you know how it went and if it's worth the membership.
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Old August 3rd, 2007, 04:35 PM   #8
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As I recall, there were some ninety teams total entered. As I said, there was a class for high school and younger, no restriction on crew size. Auteur class was for a 1 to 2 person crew. Guerrilla class (which we were in) was for three to five people in the crew. Hollywood class was six or more. Entry fees varied according to class, with a flat fee for Auteur and student, and a fee plus a certain charge per crew member for Guerrilla and Hollywood.

Competitors ranged from absolute beginners with a borrowed camcorder, all the way to professionals who do video for a living. Most of the work was good. Some was downright embarrassing, mainly do to poor choice in subject and dialog. Completion rate was about 70% who made it in before the deadline, with a few stragglers who turned in late. Much better than the 55% on the 48 hour race. Most of the teams had raced before, so they knew what they were getting into and budgeted accordingly.

We were brand new to the game, but as a team we'd done all kinds of crazy stuff before, knew the equipment and software before, and had done tasks to hard deadlines before, so there was no real doubt (short of equipment failure) that we'd get something done in time. Add in the fact that there was zero ego problems and that we knew each other well enough to finish each other's sentences, so there was little explaining needed to get the shot we wanted.

Martin
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Old August 14th, 2007, 02:17 AM   #9
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Our crew just completed the 48-hour event in Portland. We got "musical", which was especially tough on me, the composer.

Normally, the composer/mixer can sleep until the edits start popping out of the over, then you go like hell for 12 or 16 hours just before the final render and delivery. With musical (if you do it right - not just a taped stage play), you compose, make temp tracks with clicks, record the vocals, and only then can you start shooting in earnest. We would normally start shooting Saturday morning, This year we started production Saturday night.

In some cases the whole song has been temp'd. In that case you can orchestrate that song while everybody else is on location. In other cases I had a line of vocals here and there, separated by action and dialog. You can't really start the final composition, until the locked edits are done. I think I got my first edit around noon on Sunday.

It worked out though. We were very ambitious, and we turned in the tape with seven minutes to spare. We still had a couple of rough spots in the end, but it's a good film overall.

I can't wait for the Thursday screening - and hopefully the finalists' screening the following week. After that, we'll put it up on the Colonel Crush site.

You haven't lived until you've done a one or two day film!
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