The Santa Rosa 48 Hour Film Project
What Happened During Your Weekend?
The Santa Rosa filmmakers share stories from their wild weekend of filmmaking. (Blogging ended shortly after the filmmaking weekend.)
a writer's POV
STREETS OF SANTA ROSA – 8/19/13
LOGLINE: Having risked her son’s life to save her daughter, a distraught mother yearns for his forgiveness.
Before leaving for work, a movie director has a vicious argument with his wife. He then rides his bike through the streets, and arrives at the filming location. He directs an emotional scene, in which a mother, who, through her actions, caused the fatal wounding of her son, begs for his forgiveness. The scene has a powerful effect on the director, and he rushes off the movie set. He calls his wife, asks for forgiveness, and professes his love for her.
Guilt – Forgiveness – Love
The film could have multiple interpretations
1. A guy fights with his wife. Later in the day, he witnesses something that causes him to realize his mistake. He calls her, apologizes, and tells her he loves her.
2. In two separate stories, we learn the importance of asking forgiveness for our mistakes, and the power of love.
3. As a religious metaphor, we might see the story of Jesus (Jesse), in his last hours on the cross, forgiving mankind (Mary, his mother), for their sins. A bystander (Director), witnesses Christ’s unselfish sacrifice, which causes him to follow the right path in his own life.
We got our genre, and in the course of several hours, some magical moments occurred.
1. After a few minutes of brainstorming, Ransom threw out the idea of entering the story with a wounded cowboy. I immediately sang the first two verses of The Streets of Laredo, which my father sang to me when I was a child. From there we were off and running.
2. Randy and I holed up for 30 minutes and sketched out a short outline. We had the bones, but got stuck in the middle of the story.
3. Jason showed up – I pulled him aside and showed him the problem. He came up with the idea that Jesse’s injury could have occurred as a result of him protecting his sister.
4. I went home, wrote the first draft, emailed it to Randy at 12:15 am. He liked it, but had problems with my delusional, wandering ending. I scratched that, returning to our original ending, which was better.
5. Tried to sleep – woke abruptly at 4am with the idea for the director’s argument with his wife, his epiphany, and subsequent plea for forgiveness, which mirrored the “wounded cowboy” story of Jesse and Mary.
6. Saturday morning – told Deb about the new scene. She liked it. I pulled Randy aside and laid out the “argument” scene. He liked it, but rather than beginning the story with it, he suggested telling it as a flashback. I argued, but to no avail. As he did with other parts of my script, he tweaked it to his satisfaction, and made it better.
Deb and I worked for an hour on the logline and gave Randy four to choose from – two from me, two from her. In the end, he settled on one of hers (dang!). I sat in the editing room and watched Randy, Eric, and Lee work their magic. My input that day was minimal, mostly watching the masters at work, and bothering them. When we got the initial music clip from Ransom, the room exploded in applause. After editing the initial “Foot” shot, with the guitar intro, we watched it about 50 times.
I consider this 48-hour period a privilege and honor of the highest order. Everyone involved gave 100% effort. The actors were absolutely fantastic. PA’s, makeup, Tripod Man, Egg-Sandwich Lady – a truly incredible team. Randy, though constantly “under the gun,” remained cool throughout. His leadership, technical, and creative skills were crucial, enabling him to bring out the very best of everyone involved. I am filled with pride at this monumental accomplishment.
- tom kendrick, ky-meer-uh
DIARY OF MAKING A FILM IN 48 HOURS - A Team Leader's Perspective
While not very interesting as literature, I'm hoping this blow-by-blow can give a glimpse into the process for future 48 Hour filmmakers.
The genre and story elements were texted to me as I was finishing work in San Francisco, more than an hour’s drive from where we would be shooting exactly 12 hours later.
I was delighted to learn that my genre “thriller” was workable and not something goofy that didn’t fit my aesthetics. My most feared genres were “western,” “buddy movie,” and “crime/ganster.” Thriller is not my forte, but I figured I could at least work with it.
I quickly found and downloaded a song that I wanted the actress to sing on camera. After working later than usual, I drank a glass of beer at work and then headed from S.F. back to Sonoma County to "write" the script in my head while driving. I had already cast the film, so my script was mostly generated out of knowing the actors and their strengths.
Ate dinner and tried to write a script. But it was useless. I was writing too verbosely and it sounded lame. There would be no time to learn lots of lines.
I decided to go to bed and sleep on the main story beats and opted to do minimal dialogue... which I would write it on the set between takes. I had a pretty good idea of the story beats in my head.
Loaded final gear and drove to location in Healdsburg, CA.
75 % of crew arrive for 7am call time. Others rolled in over the next half hour.
I met with Line producer and D.P. to figure out where to stage/unload all the gear, food, etc. Then sent the actresses to makeup. The editor set up a Final Cut Pro system to start syncing and logging dailies.
So as not to interrupt the makeup, we had a crew meeting in the makeup room so I could pitch my story and tell everyone what we would be shooting. Everybody seemed enthusiastic. I told them that not everyone is going to like the story. Some may hate it. But I really wanted the story to have a voice and be lead by a single person instead of a team. When you think of movies by Tarnantino, Coppola, Spielberg, and the like, you think of movies with a particular point of view, directed by a single person not a committee. I never understood the idea of making a film by everyone voting on what works or not. If some people like red and some people like blue, then you end up with an ugly purple. A director is there to keep everything, all the ideas, from running together in a smear of mediocrity. Maybe the director has bad ideas, but at least they are ideas with a particular perspective.
First shot goes off on schedule. Then we went for shot 2 and so on. I saw the shots in my head, but nobody else had that advantage and I was so grateful that they were willing to go along with me leading them blindly with no road map printed out.
The crew was great at giving ideas, angle suggestions, prop suggestions, etc. along the way that improved and built on my original shot setup and blocking. I was on a complete high, making a movie on the fly! No shot took longer than 15 minutes. We usually shot about 3-5 takes. At 1pm, we broke for a sit-down lunch that was incredible! It was super tasty home-made meat and vegetable dishes provided by our line producer. The crew was slower after lunch, but we eventually found our groove again.
We missed my principal photography wrap time of 5pm. Some crew and the male actor had to leave, so we started shooting out of order so that we could finish all the male actor's sections. I hate shooting out of order without a script. I was getting really confused and had to take a few minutes now and then to get reoriented. The crew was really patient.
We wrapped principal photography. We were losing sun and still had to shoot a critical scene at the Charles Schultz museum before sundown. We left the crew to wrap gear while 5 of use (me, the D.P. both actresses, and the sound man) zipped over to grab the shot commando style. We got it just in time for the sun and then headed back to the main location.
Me, the D.P. , actress Nathalie Tedrick, and the key grip shot the final shots alone
We wrapped the gear/location.
With the location wrapped, I went to check on the editor and the synced dailies. Oooops. He had been editing in H.264 codec instead of having converted the footage to ProRes first!! My heart sank. The computer indicated that it would take 6 hours to transcode all the footage before we could edit. We decided to go to bed and have the editor transcode while sleeping.
The editor came over to my place with all the transcoded footage. But when he got here, the files didn't link up to all the sync work that he had done in the H.264 so he had to manually locate and swap the old files with the newly transcoded ones. I began downloading music cues while he tried to get the sync problem solved.
Editor gets an emergency call from his job in S.F. and he has to drop everything and leave the 48hour project forever. CRAP! I had no idea where any footage was or how it was logged and now I had to edit the film somehow! Whatever. I just dove in.
With just 3.5 hours to go until the deadline (actually 3 hours because the drop off was 20 mins from my house), I couldn't find the most critical section of the movie. The shots were nowhere in the dailies!! I was screwed and had to start improvising some sort of "satisfying" solution to make the movie work. I spent an hour an a half both looking for the footage and trying to make the movie work without the missing scenes. Finally, I decided to take one last look on one of our transfer hard drives. I opened every single shot in every folder one by one... and VOILA! The missing stuff!! Phew. I cut it in at 5:30pm.
I finished a cut on the whole movie. With no time for credits, I just slapped a title card at the end that said "Film Team" and listed all names in alphabetical order with no job description. Then I did the world's fastest sound leveling, slapped some room tone down across the whole movie, then plugged in the music as fast as humanly possible. It was run-n-gun post production at a crazy pace. Most times I didn't even listen to music, but just spot-checked the levels visually on the meter. There was no time to do any color correction whatsoever. The video looked terrible because it is supposed to be a scary movie, but we shot it very bright with the idea of having more latitude available for color correction... NOT.
Began output render.
Copied file to flash drive and raced away for drop off.
Left for a full day of work in S.F.
Decided to watch the whole movie on an HD TV at work. I was mortified!!! The movie didn't work!!! I was deeply ashamed of it. In racing to the deadline, I never got a chance to watch the movie without stopping. It was desperately missing some critical dramatic moments and the movie felt extremely flat. I was hosed!! There would be no way to ever get those beats into the movie.
I awoke with some ideas of how to fix the movie to make it pop. That would never happen for the 48hr festival, but at least I could eventually end up with a film that worked. I owed it to everyone who had worked so hard and completely trusted the film's script and production to me. I was a heavy burden, but I really could never be okay with making a bad film when the crew and talent had been so supportive in giving me free reign over content. I started planning a reshoot to boost the film even further.
It was incredible to work with such an amazing team and such talented actors. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to participate in the 48 Hour project. It was exhilarating to shoot a film like that!!
I learned valuable lessons for my next film and was able to build more skills toward improving my craft. For example, I always hated when actors look into the camera because I don't like breaking the 4th wall; it always feels false to me. It worked in Ferris Bueller, but it is really bugs me in general. But in near the end of the film, I had the actress look right into the camera to show that she was evil. Strangely, it didn't feel like breaking the 4th wall. Instead, if felt like a private view into the character's mind. So, in spite of my past beliefs, I guess every filmmaking tool has a place in the cinematic arsenal: The right tool for the right job.
More importantly, I feel honored and supremely thankful that such a fantastic team wanted to make a movie with me!
- Kirk, Sonoma Media Arts1
We pulled Horror which I wasn\\\'t prepared for and really didn\\\'t want. It is a genre where you either succeed or fail and it is instantly apparent to an audience. There is no forgiveness if it doesn\\\'t work and scare them.
After receiving the assignment, my first call of duty was to stop on my way home from the Snoopy statue in downtown Santa Rosa and get my street shot. As we were filming in Petaluma I used my daughter and grabbed a couple of shots outside Barnes and Noble - recognizable enough.
Our primary mistake was not having our creative team in the same room for the Friday evening.
Phone calls back and forth between our writer Bryan, Jodi the director and myself felt cumbersome and indecisive.
It was feeling desperate by midnight and we threw Bryan a few ideas which he worked on through the morning hours while I tried but failed to get some sleep.
We were filming at my house in Petaluma, and as I was cinematographer and editor I knew the chances of getting any rest were slim.
Getting up on Saturday I read through the pages that Bryan had emailed and realized he had written a long 4 way conversation at a baby shower. It was great dialogue, quite funny but not how most people would imagine starting a 4-7 minute horror movie!
We called our actors and gave them call times and Jodi and myself set-dressed the backyard and bedroom.
Bryan arrived and continued refining the script with Jodi and Emily.
We really didn\\\'t start our first shots until early afternoon on Saturday and those were at a nearby park with Amunet running, being chased by Max whose face was dressed in the required bandage. I don\\\'t think either of them were expecting such a workout (lots of camera angles) but they both gave it their all, and I knew I had enough shots to edit a kinetic chase for the opening of the film. It was my intention to grab the audiences attention.
The baby shower sequence didn\\\'t begin shooting until after 3pm and I knew I needed a lot of angles to cover it. I was worried about having enough time.
The actors did a wonderful job learning a lot of dialogue very quickly and improvised some of it. It started off slowly with many retakes but we gradually got it down. We ran through the entire sequence 5 times from different angles and added 3 more setups for inserts. Jodi then suggested an effects shot with the ghost appearing. This threw me for a second but we got the shot and I was pleased with it.
It was getting dark at that point so we quickly grabbed 2 more shots outside and then headed into the kitchen and bedroom for the final few shots. It was all so rushed I was just making up shots that I hoped would edit together. Fortunately they did!
Our entire team were suggesting ideas at this point and I think we stayed flexible. Any good idea was considered.
I think the cast left my house some time after 10pm and I started looking at the footage in the computer. Jodi and my daughter tidied the house and by about 2am Sunday I had synched the audio and had the opening sequence edited.
Sunday was spent on post-production and once I had it all edited together I was delighted to see that the completed film ran approx 6 minutes. The last thing to finalize was the music. Our composer Max had friends come over on Sunday afternoon and they put together a wonderfully atmospheric score which was delivered to me at around 4 pm on Sunday.
I rendered out the final files while Jodi finished writing up the paperwork in the living room. We watched the final film a couple of times on my TV knowing it was too late to make changes. Overall we were pleased with the results, it even made us jump!
For myself I know that the editing could be tighter and I would have changed some of the shots but when you are operating purely on instinct it is hard to have regrets.
48 Hour Film Project is living in the moment. Operating decisively with no chance for reflection. It is with a sense of achievement that Sunday night arrives with a finished film, formed from such limited resources and confining handicaps.
All credit goes to our team leader and Director Jodi Brock. I believe it takes strength and charisma to pull disparate individuals together, encouraging them to produce their best work.
- Timothy Evans, \\\'The Second Unit\\