Making a film is a lot of work and sometimes takes years to complete. First, you select or write a script, a task that can take several months to perfect on its own. Then, a director is chosen from among the plethora of working Hollywood folks, followed by the cast and crew. From anywhere from two to six months is when principal photography takes place, as well as introducing the post production masters into their roles, including the editing, music and special effects departments. This, of course, does not include the occasional reshoots. Finally, voila – a movie has been made. On a fast-moving project it can be done in about one and a half to two years. Yes, that’s the fast-moving timeline. Of course, this is not the timeline for all films, some are longer and some shorter. Sometimes way shorter — such as in 48 hours.
The 48 Hour Film Project is a collaboration of filmmakers coming together to create a short film and compete against one another with the same lack of sleep and hurried vision. The project is held in 120 cities across the globe. Creativity and skill is where the stand-outs shine. This year, Austin Fusion Magazine was granted the opportunity to follow a team around for the weekend to see the crazy unfold in real time.
The chosen team, Austiquerque, a mixture of cast and crew from Albuquerque, N.M., and Austin, Texas, formed for the sole purpose of creating a fantastic film in (hopefully) less than 48 hours. Many in the team had previously worked together on past projects, including a 48 project in New Mexico, and decided to combine the best of the best on the Austin edition. Producer Brent Tiano explained the choice to bring members from these two cities together by saying he hopes this “open doors between the two groups, which previously didn’t exist” between two established film communities.
Then there’s the predestined part, that’s the unique and sometimes frustrating element of the 48 Hour Film Project. While each participating film team can chose their own cast and crew, they must abide by a few rules. The main rule being only 48 hours to make a film between four to seven minutes in length, including all the pre and post production work needed. Every team has the same requirements – character name and trait, a specific line of dialogue, and a specific prop. The main difference between the films is genre.
Teams were given their genre at the festival kick-off party on Friday and that’s when the fun began. The Austin 48 Hour Project element requirements for this year were as follows:
Character: Alan or Alana Abercrombie, Hypochondriac
Prop: A marker
Line: “Even if I knew, I wouldn’t (would not) tell you.”
Team Austiquerque’s chosen genre: Coming of Age
Watching these elements come together to form a fully developed 3-act structured story was fascinating. They used what they were required to use in a unique and fun way, standing out from the other films in their group. This wouldn’t have happened if Team Austiquerque weren’t experienced professionals who knew how to collaborate and have fun at the same time.
To gain more knowledge on how the weekend was conducted, Austin Fusion has put together a timeline for Team Austiquerque’s film “Withdrawn” for that weekend.
6:30-7pm: Kick-off party: Requirements were determined.The producers (Tiano and Nick Ward) were at the party to wait for the draw. For most of the party, Ward was on the phone with the rest of the crew, who were anxiously waiting on standby at the hotel.
7-8pm: Brainstorming session.
Film requirements had been given, so this was the time that the whole team was able to throw out ideas on the project. It was open to everyone, not just producers and writers. Everyone voiced their opinions until it was narrowed down to three ideas that were voted upon.
9pm-1am: The Writing Session
With the ideas from the team narrowed down, the writers do what they do best and filled in all the holes and developed a 3-act structured story.
Filming isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially when you have lights and sound set ups. Austiquerque were masters, only doing one take of most scenes. Plus, while they were shooting one scene, other crew members were setting up the shots for the next, everyone was pulling their weight.
Even with all the participation and planning, at this point in the production, Team Austiquerque was behind schedule. Mike Miller, writer and producer, mentioned to Austin Fusion, “You can tell how a production is going based on who’s sitting together at lunch.” If you don’t see the production heads, then you know that something is up. At lunch, the producers, director, and department heads were nowhere to be found.
The meeting must have worked at lunch, because the team rocked it out and finished filming within the expected film day.
This is where the timeline gets a little off schedule. From about 8am on Saturday morning, until about 6pm Sunday night, the editors were hard at work. As soon as there was footage on the digital card, a crew member would rush it up to the editors, who were on site, so they had the opportunity to start working. They edited what they could when they got the out of order footage. Of course, once filming was wrapped the work really stared. With few sleep breaks during the day, the editing team knocked out the project, with credits and music in the allotted time.
With minutes to spare, Team Austiquerque turned in their finished project. The interesting part was that they had already turned in the project, but realized after submission that there was a mistake. This is when having a tight and on time schedule pays off. They were able to trade the bad flash drive for the good one with no hassles and still have time to resubmit before the 7pm deadline.
7pm-10pm: Crew Party
Once the 48 Hour Film Project films were done the stress melted away and allowed for everyone to finally relax and enjoy each other’s company.
A screening of the participating films showed the week following the shoots and “Withdrawn” was welcomed with warm applause and encouraging comments.
Next up: Best Of Screening on the Long Center Terrace, September 4th from 7-10pm. Fingers crossed,”Withdrawn” will be showing, but if not, there will be plenty of other great films to see.
Making movies is stressful, but if you allow yourself to be surrounded by creative people who share your passion for this industry, anything is possible, including making a film in 48 hours.
Austin Fusion would like to send our heartfelt Thank You’s to everyone involved in the cast and crew. Austiquerque was welcoming and at no time did we feel unwanted or in the way. Stay tuned to the site for more information on Team Austiquerque, their ranking in the festival, and a place to view the finished project online.
Written by Jessica Hudson (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Lisa Mejia (email@example.com)
Images by Ryan Goodrich