This post is a continuation of a series of blogs highlighting our year’s events and storylines. A lot has happened this year in our shop, and we want to share those stories with you.
Since 2015, we have participated in the Cleveland 48 Hour Film Project. The name pretty much explains the concept: to create a film in 48 hours or less from script to screen using the assigned genre, line of dialogue, prop, and character. It takes place in different cities around the world, and the winners from each city go to an international 48 HFP festival, Filmapalooza, to determine the best film of the year. This year, we felt that doing only one was not enough. We decided to branch out to two other cities not only to increase our chances to make it to the festival, but also we just had the urge to keep doing them. So, two weeks after we participated in the Cleveland project, we were a part of the Columbus one and then the Denver event the week after. We did not have to be in those cities to be a part of it, for as long as someone was present when picking the genres and to drop off the final product.
Each event had its challenges, ranging from the genre assigned to making deadlines. It is always a challenge to actually write the story and film in such a short amount of time, but the payoff is huge. Yes, it is possible to not get your film submitted in time or not even finish the film at all. That is why for many, just making a movie in 48 hours is an accomplishment in itself. The latter challenge of making deadlines would be a factor in the Columbus and Denver projects as we would need enough time to upload onto the internet and have our representatives in those cities download it, put it on a flash drive, and drive to the drop-off locations in time. On average, we got our films in with about 10 minutes to spare. Overall, we thought that each entry was successful with all three films making the “Best Of” showing and awards ceremony.
We were pleasantly surprised that our Denver film noir, “Closure", made the Best Of screening and received an Honorable Mention for Audience Choice in our initial screening group. Using an overstuffed wallet, a poet named Ruby Starr, and the line, “Stop copying me!”, we filmed all but one of the scenes in one morning. The two scenes we filmed, a restaurant dinner scene and a prison scene actually filmed in a jail-themed escape room, fit the story well enough that there was no need to film the third scene: a flashback to a beach scene involving the character’s children. Unfortunately, that scene included the required line. We found our way around it in post-production by photoshopping the line multiple times on the prison wall. This signified how delusional the main character was as he thought he was having a romantic dinner with his wife, but instead, is having his last meal before being executed for murdering his family.
Our Columbus silent film, “Disconnect,” was also successful in its event by making the Best Of showing as well as winning Best Cinematography. With a post-modern house as our setting we locked-in before the event, we knew we had to set the story in the future where everything was automated, from opening blinds to self-driving vehicles, but it came at a price for the main character. A father, who was basically a workaholic and had no regard for neither his wife nor his son, learned that he did not have as much control over his life than he thought. For his son, playing a video game that was actually controlling his father’s car, had a hold of his fate. Not having to worry about recording sound was a relief, but it relied on composition to fit the mood and help tell the story. Unfortunately, the music we initially composed did not fit the vision we had for this film, leaving us to resort to stock music at the eleventh hour. As for incorporating the line, “You don’t see that every day,” our visual artist, Ben from Digital Squirrel Studio, did an amazing job not only using the line and the required character, mechanic Andrew Ruberon, in the car’s HUD display, but also made graphics for the video game used in the film. On a side note, the required prop, a cookie, was placed where the son was sitting at the end of the film. Nevertheless, it was still considered one of the best in the city.
Since we had the most experience in the Cleveland event, we knew our expectations had to be high. By far our most successful film in terms of awards won, as well as a part of our Collective Film Project with our friends from Wilmington, “The Hatch” was created this time around. A “Film de Femme,” or a female-driven film, it centered on a woman attempting to outsmart her kidnapper as she tries to escape from his boat in the middle of the ocean. Thankfully, the weather held up, bringing sunshine to our setting right on Lake Erie. The clear weather, however brought a lot of summer heat to our production, especially inside the boat. Cast and crew were sweating as everyone was making last-minute alterations, including clarifying that all the elements were in the film and met criteria. That meant the required character, "Van Sizemore, Cheapskate,” was physically present and inferred. In this case, he was our kidnapper who was called a cheapskate as he was negotiating a deal to sell his kidnapped possession. We received awards in Best Location, Best Directing (Collective Film Project alumnus Zach Daulton), Audience Choice in our screening group, and second place for best film. More importantly, a well-deserved Best Actress award went to our own Stefanie Barber, who did an amazing job even with little to no lines. Yes, she has been in many of our projects, but there is a reason we always ask her to be in them!
For me, it was cool to attend all of the Best Of showings, even the one in Denver. It was interesting to see how each city compares in terms of what the judges liked and evaluated each film, as well as how close the film communities were in those cities. Details such as how each city presented awards and the choice of locations for the initial and final showings made a difference and gives us a better idea of how to approach each city’s project if we were to participate in them again in the future. So, what is in store for next year? Will we be going for another attempt at winning Cleveland after a couple of second place finishes in the past three years? Will we participate in Columbus and Denver or maybe move on to other cities? Those answers will have to wait until this upcoming Summer. For now, please enjoy our Cleveland entry, “The Hatch,” in the link below.
Special thanks to all our cast and crew who helped us on these films this past year! We would also like to extend a big thanks to our Columbus and Denver representatives, Brian and Christine, for their help in picking the genres and turning in the films.