The New Orleans 48 Hour Film Project
What Happened During Your Weekend?
The New Orleans filmmakers share stories from their wild weekend of filmmaking. (Blogging ended shortly after the filmmaking weekend.)
Film name Draft #4
As team leader, I pulled "romance" and with a cast of 6 women and a handful of men, I couldn't be more thrilled. Then the brainstorming began and it became obvious that the "romance" genre would be tough. At 3 AM we had no script, actors had no wardrobe instructions and call time was at 6 am. Fortunately we shot some footage Friday night and as the ladies were finishing up makeup (on Saturday) I continued hammering away at the computer. Finally at 9:30 AM we had a story and a script! Thanks to my phenomenal cast and crew, we got the job done - they were amazing and so very supportive! After 2 48's, I tell people that it challenges every core of your creative being. Yes, indeed!
- Victoria Greene, Team Greene Bayou
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48 Hour Craziness (As much as I can remember anyway)
Friday Night, we are assigned "Drama" as our genre. Nancy, my wife & producer breathes a sigh of relief that we didn't pick musical or western. I do too. But still we'd have welcomed the challenge.
Nancy pitches me a story idea she's had bouncing around for a while, and I dig it. We get to work writing. 4 hours to write the script A little bit of back and forth. Nancy wants to use a kid in the movie, I argue that the odds are already stacked against us, and adding a kid into the mix might prove problematic. After much deliberation she relents, but still thinks a kid would add to the story.
Finally e complete these script, which is a doozy (a 7 minute maximum doesn't allow for much exposition) but we have something we can work with.
We tell our cast and crew to meet us at 9 AM at our production office,
Saturday Morning 2AM: Trying to get a little shuteye before the big day. The storm outside, coupled with anxiety for the shoot says otherwise. I suddenly realize none of our locations have called us back. We're gonna have to shoot at my grandparents house.
Saturday Morning 7AM: Nancy heads to our production office to get it ready for cast & crew (coffee & donuts for all!) While I head to the office where I work my day job to use the heavy duty copier to print scripts. Luckily it's a production office and this copier is tailor made for that.
9AM: How's this for a good sign? Blake, one of our PAs showed up half an hour early (one who I met a coffee shop only a week before.)
Also most actors have already printed scripts and highlighted their parts.
One actor is late, one crew member has not shown up. Still no word from locations.
9:30 AM - All Actors are here! That one crew member has still not shown up. We get started with a table read.
After the table read one actress says we can use her house as a location. Rock on!
I get a text from the missing crew member claiming she never got my email. I don't buy it. Unfortunately she can't make it to our shoot now because she made other plans.
I realize I can't find my bulbs for my home-made lighting kit. I must've left them at home.
We tell the crew to head to location, and ask Casey, my AD to get actors into make-up and costumes and rehearse the first scene up. Nancy & I head home to looks for the bulbs.
10:30 AM - Found the bulbs, head to location.
11:00 AM - In an effort to get a head start on editing, I give our other PA a crash course on data wrangling. This makes me the most nervous because if we lose this footage, it's gone forever.
I'm trusting the fate of the movie to this kid I only met 2 hours ago.
Around noon: We are ready to shoot our first scene! The producer's phone rings. It's our Bar location. They say we can shoot there, but we have to go NOW. Otherwise the bar is just going to get more and more crowded. Strike the set!
12:30: We're stuck in French Quarter traffic. It's been 3 hours and we still have not gotten our first shot off. I'm starting to worry.
The Bar tells us we can use their upstairs Bar that's for employees only. Success! No meddlesome public causing unwanted background noise.
We get our shots without incident. I'm happy we've gotten something shot.
We head back to the house to get the rest of the shots.
3PM: We have two SAG actors, and SAG rules state that we must feed them after 6 hours of work. Pizza Time!
I'm starving, but I want to make sure everyone else has a piece before I dig in. Luckilly, three pizzas seems to be more than enough for the crew.
4PM: We've wrapped out one actress (the one who owns the house. But she's letting us stay and willing to lend a helping hand. We move into the kitchen to shoot our next scene. Goes off without a hitch.
I start getting texts from work, I generally don't work on weekends and I made sure they knew especially not this weekend. But there's a minor catastrophe brewing. They're asking if I can come in on Sunday. I don't have the time, but I also don't want this minor inconvenience escalate into a catastrophe. More on this later.
We move into the garage for the longest scene of the night. I'd hoped to shoot this one first, but it involved blood effects, and actors would've had to get cleaned up for later shooting. Something for which we didn't have time.
6PM we're in the garage getting ready to shoot a murder scene. Nancy makes the fake blood. Fake blood recipes call for a little bit of blue food coloring along with a whole lot of red food coloring. Nancy had put in a ton of blue. It looks like Grape flavored cough syrup. But we're looking at it under the kitchen light. We bring it into the garage and it looks much better under the set lighting. Go Nancy!
We're almost done. Our dead body is complaining of mosquitoes eating him alive. Unfortunately we need him there for continuity.
9PM: We finish the garage scene. We have our lead actress for another half hour. Also My data wrangler needs to leave soon. I can't take care of loading the rest of the footage when I start cutting.
We're down to the home stretch. We move into the bedroom to shoot our final indoor scenes of the night. These take place in a dark room, but we still need to light them to look authentic. I manage to somehow achieve what I call "Dean Cundey Blue" For those who don't know the name, Dean Cundey was cinematographer who shot Back to the Future and a whole slew of Spielberg movies. If you grew up in the 80s there's a good chance you saw some of his work.
Anyway the dark room shots look phenomenal. Now I need to shoot an insert of a smartphone screen. This proves to be more problematic than anticipated. I'm trying to focus on the screen but it's just not happening. I think I'm gonna need to just add this shot in post. Then the idea hits me. I set the tripod back on the floor and shoot the shot in reverse. I'm able to focus right away. The steadiness helps.
All dark room scenes are done and our lead actress is wrapped out on time.
10 PM: Like the Reverend Horton Heat says, It's Martini Time! Our only outdoor scene, and we're shooting with natural light. This shot takes six takes to complete. I'm still not happy with it. We didn't have a steadicam, so it's more shaky than I'd like. Also some cars ruin some takes, and because we're using natural light we get more shadows than I'd like.
I figure I'll be able to cut something out of the six takes I have. And with that we're wrapped!
As Casey points out, a working AD that we booths know would be proud. 7 Pages in 13 hours.
After cleaning, those with the energy head to Hoshun for drinks and Sushi. I'm thinking I should start cutting right away, but Nancy talks me out of it.
She's right, we save cutting for the next day.
Since we're relatively close to work, I go in and take care of the "crisis situation" takes me all of 12 minutes.
Sunday, 7AM: I hit the snooze alarm several times over.
8 AM: I hop out of bed and start transferring and transcoding the left over footage.
All footage is on the drive, much to my relief.
I need to sync the dailies now. I opt to sync footage as I'm cutting. This way I don't waste time syncing footage I'm not gonna use.
4 PM: I have a workable cut. But it's 30 seconds over the 7 Minute time maximum. I show the cut to Nancy, for the most part she digs it. She keeps commenting on the fact that we could have covered the actors in more fake sweat. She also doesn't like my cut away to a red flash when people get killed. Maybe it is kinda cheesy. I whittle away at a couple of scenes to get town to the required time limit. 5 seconds here 2 seconds there. Finally I get down to 6:58. Good enough.
Time to spit out a quicktime file. 28 minutes to export. God almighty. We're cutting it close. 5 minutes to load it on a jump drive. Not too bad. All done. Oh wait I should do a backup. 16 Minutes!? Why did the first one only take five. After the longest 16 minutes of my life. My editor's mind makes me triple check the files on the jump drives. They play fine. doesn't hurt to double check. And always back that shit up.
We make the drop with 35 minutes to spare.
All in all this was a great experience. Everyone was cordial. No screaming, no whining. just good ol' fashioned movie making. A phenomenal cast & crew made it all that much better.
- Arvid Cristina, Psych-O-Scope Studios
It became a matter of the scouts keeping an eye out for people and cars and yelling
"IT'S Clear...! No Ones coming....SHOOT!!!!"
- Lancelot Jean Mallia, Iron Dragon
Our Tank started drawing people.
We used a British combat tank (A small one) for our shoot. The shoot was in a small Gentilly neighborhood, very quiet not alot going on there.
We figured we were good.
The one thing that didnt occur to us was the just mere sight and sound of the tank rumbling down the street and parking in the driveway would cause such a stir.
We had an ongoing stream of people and cars stopping to take a look at the tank.
We ended up having to post scouts to give us an all clear for shots around the tank.
It became \\
- Lancelot Jean Mallia, Iron Dragon