The 48 Hour Film Project

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.)


Fly me to the moon

I am only just now writing this because CW Smith, one of our musical contributors and a computer genius, has resurrected my macbook pro and given me back our film in it\\\'s final glory. Today is Saturday...the Saturday after 48 Hour Film Project.
Let me tell you a story...

We had the location of dreams. Once in a lifetime. Seriously, but had no idea how on earth to use it once we pulled sci fi this year. Probably the first year we wanted to pull drama or period piece. There was no way we weren\\\'t going to use our unique and most wonderful location though...so we thought and we thought and by midnight we had a script. A first for us; in all previous years we did most of our dialogue in improv mode.
Got moving at 545 am and arrived at the Antique Airfield outside of Ottumwa at 733 am. That\\\'s right! The Antique Airfield, complete with multiple hangars of airplanes, a museum and at least three airplanes at our disposal (well kind of).

Filming started out fantastic, then upon importing...we lost the majority of our first scene and found that one camera wasn\\\'t filming correctly. Do over. We had 5 hours to get this done as the grounds manager had to leave town for an air show. Take two, great shots, rushed things a bit to get all of our ground work complete and most definitely should of reshot a few things, but hey, let\\\'s film a whole movie in 5 hours! Why not!

Amidst this, we had realized we left an important part of the main tripod at home...hello duct tape. That didn\\\'t last too long before a work around was found.

I then sent one of our filmographers up into the air for some air to air footage...o I wish I could use all of it! Now you may be wondering, why would I, the producer/director/filmographer/editor, give that privilege to a friend and crew member? There are several reasons. First and foremost, she deserved it. We got this location because she and another crew member have been friends with the owner and his son for years. Secondly, flying while filming can make you throw up. Yes, vomiting all over small airplanes. No thanks (plus a bit of a fear of flying), send up Jessie!

We also sent Jim Jones, our last minute conscripted actor, up in the air in his airplane with my sony. No special gear, just a regular hand strap. And yes, I imported all footage up til now, just in case.
Two planes in the air, great footage was obtained, but the clouds were still too low to get our third plane up and going doing acrobatic stunts. Weather killed the stunt plane...well kept it from flying for us anyway. But that\\\'s the way it goes with 48. You get what you can and thank all those that tried to help, especially when the weather keeps them from doing their thing.

Finally, after 7 hours (thanks for sticking around Ben and Brent) we were done filming. Arrived home and was done editing the best film we ever made by 2 pm on Sunday.

That\\\'s when disaster struck. Macy (the macbook) stopped going. She got hot, then hotter, then blazing. She wouldn\\\'t move. She wouldn\\\'t render. She wouldn\\\'t even let me close up shop. I had burned a pre done and a pre pre done, so I knew we had a film to submit. But all the post work in the world won\\\'t show if you can\\\'t get it onto DVD or make a quicktime file. I sat with Macy until 715 in the parking lot of Fleur Cinema hoping she would come through for me. But alas, she did not. First of all I overloaded my system. Secondly, I needed a compressor that I wouldn\\\'t have had room for on her anyway without a large dump into my external drive. No time. Turned in our film with a few errors and much lower quality than we filmed, but we got our film in.

Fast forward to today. CW used his magical voodoo and has recovered our original final edit and everything that was on my computer. Macy now has a 1 TB drive and is getting a double up on her ram in a few weeks. So, not only did CW save the day for our 48 Hour Film, he saved all the footage from a previous project where a school was burned to the ground.

The moral of the story is...start 48 with as clean of a computer as possible. Know that final cut pro needs a compressor add on and if you have to fly and film...make someone with a strong stomach do it.

Thanks for a great weekend team!! And, yes, now that Macy is back everybody on crew gets a DVD!

- Laura Peppers, Whatever Works

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Say "no" to the energy drinks

So at the beginning leg of the Film festival my two sisters bring me a "care package" filled with frappuccinos and some 5 hour energy knockoffs. I went the first night without any but the second night I after I had finished the frappuccinos I tried the energy shots. Went all night, but then comes Sunday morning and I feel sick to my stomach, and throw up.
Coincidentally after the festival I go grocery shopping at the local store. I happen apon a cart marked 50c, and in it is the exact same energy drinks. All on sale because they are outdated.
Thanks Sis

- Micah Haworth, MicahMedia Productions

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A great time!

This is my third summer working on a film for the festival. Every year becomes more and more enjoyable, and we get a little better at meeting the challenge of completing a film in 48 hours.

This year we decided we would used only mobile devices to film our movie. This was a challenge at first, as battery levels and video resolution was definitely not ideal. In the end it was a way to keep everyone involved and provided 4-5 different angles for a scene.

The mobile devices did not prove to be the most challenging part of our shoot, that would go to the mosquitos. We filmed out in the woods and there were clouds of mosquitos that descended down on us. By the end of the day we were covered in bites, and are still scratching our wounds today.

For me, this is always a good experience for stepping away from my busy life to work on a short-term creative project with an amazing group of people.

- Andy McGuire, Bold Entertainment

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An Excellent Adventure!

We ventured to Des Moines to make a movie in 48 Hours. Not having much of a connection to the city we were a bit concerned about finding locations and making a movie happen, but when we drew horror from the hat we knew everything would be just fine. Finding new and inventive ways to do people in is the lifeblood of our podcast work on The Watson Files and this, though a different sort of murder and mayhem, turned out to be an excellent experience.

After the kickoff event we decided that we should eat something useful and so, and because, you know, horror, we tried to go to Zombie Burger. That didn’t work out so we made our way to The Cheesecake Factory and tucked in whilst attempting to conjure the perfect blend of fear and evil that would make our movie great.

One of our executive producers loves to talk about us to anyone that will listen and the chipper young lady who took us to our table was no exception. As soon as she mentioned that she was in school for theatrical things he was quickly chatting about what we’d come to town to do and, in short order, we had recruited the girl to join us for filming the next day (What luck! She was fantastic and died like a hero, but only after she checked us out online to make sure we weren’t, you know, actually going to kill her!)

We went back to our hotel and hammered out our script and by midnight had created a good foundation for our upcoming day of filming.

The next day we had our traditional breakfast at Max’s Diner in Altoona, got our props scooped up from Wal-Mart and headed off to the somewhat distant home of our director’s sister. The Doud family was great. They didn’t really know what they were getting themselves into, but they let us take over their house, get blood everywhere and generally be bother for longer than we had planned. Thanks very much to them for making our film possible!

When we wrapped up filming we tried for Zombie Burger again (man that place is always packed), but ended up at Americana enjoying some really great cuisine and then retired back to the hotel room to finish editing (having done a great deal whilst filming which was a lifesaving decision). I stayed up late into the night going through the clips and selecting the best angles and sound to tell our tale and by morning I’d cut together the film. Still there was music and sound effects to be added, but it was time to check out of the hotel. This is where the real trouble began.

We needed Wi-Fi to gather the necessary sounds and music files, but it was broken at the hotel the night before and Max’s Diner (which got us back for lunch and became The Official Food Source of Fun & Games Productions for the weekend) wasn’t swimming in Wi-Fi and the coffee shop that we tried downtown, though purveyors of perfect caramel lattes, couldn’t manage to keep us connected either. Finally we discovered a Barnes and Noble with a stable connection and were able to get the necessary files, put everything together and render the film. There was a brief moment where the software thought that it would need 2 hours (starting at 4:45) to render the film that caused some dismay, but it pulled it together and we were able, after a couple of disk burning mishaps, to get our film onto its proper media sources and deliver it to the Fleur at 7:06 PM.
What a rush! Now, freshly out of energy we returned to our native Cedar Rapids and, managing not to damage ourselves on the drive home, we slept and everything was good.

We’d like to say thank you to our team for being there when we needed you, The Doud Family one more time for giving us a location and to the folks who worked relentlessly at The Des Moines 48 Hour Film Project to bring the event together.

-Michael R. Helgens, Executive Producer, Author, Actor, Hero
Fun & Games Productions

- Michael R. Helgens, Fun & Games Productions

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Silver Lining

It was a beautiful day in Iowa when we sat down for a beer to discuss what our Drama would be about. 2 beers later we had a workable idea and we sent it halfway across the state to our writer who pulled through the grog of a cold to hammer out an awesome script and shoot it back across the state about 4 hours later.

We were off to location one. It was somewhere between 2 & 3 in the morning when we took our first shot. The scene was 3+ hours of laying on the dirty floors of an old run down cafe, stacking and unstacking tables and chairs, getting eaten alive by mosquitoes and running up and down the street before we had what we needed and could move on two the second location.

And if we thought that the mosquitoes were bad inside, they were 10x worse in the field! Time and insects were against us. The sun was rising on what was supposed to be a dusk/night shot and the insects were waking up more and more. We were all anxious to get this scene done as quickly as possible. Also, we weren\\\'t sure how much fake blood to use since our first batch turned out purplish brown and we didn\\\'t know how much we\\\'d need for later. But we busted through it, jumped back in the cars and made off for less infested locales.

With scene two done we ran back to the cafe for the daylight scene. More tired, more running, more stacking and unstacking and more laying on the dirty ground. I was genuinely afraid that the actors would fall asleep while they were pretending to be asleep! They pulled through like champs though.

After that was a series of walking scenes. The actors were happy that they weren\\\'t running for once (the one playing a character with a limp was starting to develop an actual limp from limping so much) and the crew was happy to start experimenting with some different types of shots that we hadn\\\'t tried yet.

Finally, we arrived at the last location. At this point we were waking up extra\\\'s in the background who were napping almost every time we changed shot angles. Luckily, one scene involved a dead person in a tub and he was able to take a nap in there.

With filming completed it was time to do the voice overs. Advice to everyone out there. Don\\\'t record peoples internal monologues with sleeping people snoring in the background! Also, let sleeping actors (who don\\\'t snore during audio recordings) lie...and pile shoes on them!

All of that was completed in about 21 hours and so, with there being no rest for the weary, I set off to start editing and the music producer set off to start recording and our actors went home to sleep before they had to go to work early the next day. I\\\'m not sure how much I got done, but I woke up after midnight drooling on myself waiting for a sequence to finish rendering. I needed a nap. 5 hours turned into 7 and I was back at it, but the rough cut I tried to send to our music producer didn\\\'t go through so it was loaded onto a flash drive and driven a half hour to his house and back to finish the edit. He came back in the early afternoon with the music, we touched up a few scenes looks, every scenes sound and everything crashed. All the rendered files went back to unrendered. We quickly added the music, finished fixing what was undone by the crash and started exporting. And we waited. And waited. And waited. And at 7:12pm it was done! We started thinking: \\

- Coda Skeffington-Vos, I Am Jack's Inconsequential Team Name

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