Suppose you had a camera, some friends, and 48 hours to make a film 4 to 7 minutes long. No, you don’t get to choose the movie’s genre — you have to select it out of a hat, and it may be anything from Fantasy to Horror to Comedy to Romance. Ideas bubbling in your head? Well, hold on a sec: you also have to include a specific character, line of dialogue, and prop. Ready, set, go!
These are the basics of the 48 Hour Film Project. Last year I went to a screening of a group of Louisville films made as part of this summer weekend of fun and madness; this year, my entire family was fortunate enough to be part of a movie-making team. In 48 hours, from 7:00 p.m. last Friday until 7:00 p.m. Sunday, we made a short film that fell into the Detective/Cop genre.
The team was headed up by my friend Tim, who has made an extremely funny KinoLouisville film with one of his sons. Once we started filming, that son ran the camera; his other son kept an eye on the sound. A friend of the sons spent much of Saturday with his arms overhead, hoisting a boom mike. (All of these guys are big, in the football-player sense. It was like making a movie in the company of friendly giants.) My son and I wrote much of the script, with contributions from the others; my daughter helped plan the various shots; I was the crew caterer and helped with continuity; and my husband did some driving and assorted other jobs. My daughter, my son, and my mother all appear in the film.
Tim got the genre and other required elements Friday evening. We gathered in an office that had approximately 50 linear feet of whiteboard, and began brainstorming. Over the course of about 4 hours, our plot progressed from a hamster named Global Warming (“But what about Global Warming?” “Don’t worry, he’s fine, right over there in his cage”), to a female runner who was a serial killer at night (weapon of choice: a shotput), to a dark story about a frustrated small-town cop, to our final plot, which revolved around a day in the life of an exceedingly zealous Neighborhood Watch patrolman.
The next morning, we all invaded Tim’s house, had breakfast, split into groups, and began writing a script, planning shots, gathering and purchasing props, and scouting locations. By mid afternoon the preamble work was finished and shooting began. About 7 hours later, filming was finished. Tim and his son became temporarily nocturnal and stayed up all night editing. (I forgot to mention their immensely talented friend who wrote an entire score for the film during the middle of Saturday night.) They finished adding music and making final changes Sunday afternoon, and turned in the finished film Sunday evening. Tim wrote a blog entry about the process on the 48 Hour Film Project site.
Our film and all the other Louisville films will be showing at assorted times on Wednesday and Thursday. If you’re in Louisville and would like to see them at Village 8, they make for a highly entertaining evening. We’re in Screening Group B (team name Fools & Film). The film project is also happening this summer in these U.S. cities.
The entire process was hugely, phenomenally entertaining and rewarding from start to finish, and I can’t wait to see the final result! At some point the films will be available online and I’ll include a link so you can share in the adventures of Billy, his bright yellow scooter, a crime scene involving a dead squirrel’s chalk outline, and the vital information to be found in an overstuffed garbage can.