The Des Moines 48 Hour Film Project
What Happened During Your Weekend?
The Des Moines filmmakers share stories from their wild weekend of filmmaking. (Blogging ended shortly after the filmmaking weekend.)
Between a Rock and a hard place
This was the first 48hr film festival for everyone on our team and, for most of us, the first time on film. A few people had never acted or worked on any kind of flim project at all. So there we were, 8 people who had little to no experience with movies trying to make one in a weekend! We knew it was going to be fun, stressful and a learning experience, but other than that we were clueless.
Friday night started with a thrown together meeting at Village Inn to get everyone on the same page and brainstorm ideas for a Buddy Film. Note to self (and any other novices), having everyone throw in their two cents sounds like a good idea at the time, but it turns out to be a shouting match of competing good ideas. We eventually decided to drive back to my place in the hopes of having myself and the co-director come up with a basic plot on the way that we could start filming. After about 20 minutes of screaming at each other, one of our crew in back said, "Why don't we just make a film about this? People who don't know what to make a film about and argue the whole time". It was the best thing we had to date so we ran with it.
We got to my house, pitched the idea and went to the local bar that I had spoken to in advance to make sure we could still film. We couldn't. The manager I talked to earlier that week hadn't told his staff and they weren't going to let us do it. We scouted plan B (getting pulled over twice in a 1/4mile for having a headlight out) and decided that we'd start as soon as people got off work the next day...basically 3pm on Saturday.
I took the time between Friday night and Saturday afternoon to write a rough script, that was immediately scrapped in favor of improvisation. We filmed until almost 2am (I went back to the bar Saturday and got in touch with the manager again), getting really lucky with the bar scene. As we arrived, so did a few families complete with about 10 noisy kids. Nobody had eaten so we ate and waited for them to leave. As soon as we did it was on! As soon as we finished and packed up a party bus of drunken fools walked in. 5 minutes earlier and they would've interrupted our last scene.
I went home that night and edited the whole thing together. At about 5am I laid down with an alarm for 6, but didn't wake up till I got a call from our music guy at 9. I watched the edit and realized that nothing made sense (it did at 5am though). We had about 6min30sec of film, and about 6min28sec of strait dialog! It just didn't work. So I made all the calls and everyone met back up at the origional shooting location for another few hours of filming. Went home, edited that all in and took it to Des Moines to add music. We arrived at the Fluer Cinema less than 5minutes to deadline!
We're making a lot of changes for next year. We're thankful that there weren't any technical difficulties and everything that went wrong was basically under our control. Honestly, we're just happy to have our film in on time, screened and to have learned some basic do's and dont's for next year. At the end of the day, everyone had a good time and we're looking forward to our next project and next years 48hr film festival!
- Coda Skeffington-Vos, Random Parrot Thing
What's in a Name
We chose our team name, Whatever Works, on a whim and, honestly, for a different competition (a short live theater project). But it truly has become our mantra. This year, we planned ahead. We had a crew, several actors of both genders, and all of our gear packed and ready to go. Two weeks before the competition I sent a message out and low and behold, all but one person had decided on different plans for the weekend. My husband I looked at each other. I get it, things happen, people make different choices, but there was a serious moment of “should we just quit before we start” going through our heads. How do you make a movie in 48 hours with three people?
After a half hour or so of self defeat, we threw up our hands and said, “Whatever Works! We are doing this no matter what!” And that is when we knew that no matter what happened with our project, we would be proud to say we did it yet again.
A great decision was made, a shout was sent out to social media, and in less than two weeks, we had bumped our crew up to eight. And with those nine, we made an incredible video this year. Our usual issues did not manifest, editing went smoothly, and though I personally spent all night Friday through Saturday morning sewing a superhero costume of my own design (not the unitard part, that was a Kwik Sew pattern with some me based alterations) I actually got more rest this weekend than I ever had. Why? Because our last minute crew included a great photographer who made lighting our shots with a chicken hatchery light (hey, we’re low budget) a breeze! And, he helped set up some of the shots, etc. Our last minute actors, yes even the main character, were brilliant and took their job seriously...except when we were all laughing our behinds off, of course. Even one of our original actors was able to make it out for a very bit part between engagements. Our last minute gopher didn’t ask any questions, he just went when asked and had a good time with it. And, finally, our assistant, the only one that stuck with us from our original crew, was marvelous as always. She can see when we are hitting our no food, sleep, rest limits. She always smiles and takes care of anything that we just can’t. She goes home and sleeps at night, but not until after she has done last minute runs and takes and sound bits for us. This woman deserves an award, seriously. She puts up with us.
The best part of the weekend? There were so many, it is hard to say, but it may have been when our main character stated that he needed to poop and asked if we could cut him out of his costume. Hey, I stayed up sewing all night, but a superhero emblem has to be placed correctly to count.
- Laura Peppers, Whatever Works