8 Pro Tips to Surviving the 48 Hour Film Project

The 48 Hour Film Project is a popular filmmaking event that asks teams of filmmakers to write, produce, shoot and edit a short film in the span of 48 hours. As someone that has participated in three events (the last time after I vowed never to do another one again) and shoots on tight schedules for a living, I’ve put together seven pro tips to help you survive this grueling filmmaking stunt.

The advice I will dispense is based on my experiences which haven’t all been stellar. Listen to me and hopefully you can avoid some of the pitfalls of this weekend of insanity. If you don’t, who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky… or you might end up putting your fist through a wall.

But trust me at least on the first one.

Tip 1: Know your workflow

Workflow is a fancy smancy term post production guys like to use for describing how they turn raw footage into a finished product. If you’ve never made a film STOP READING RIGHT NOW! Go make a short film this minute.

We’ll wait…

Okay, now that you’ve actually made a short film from start to finish, you should know how to take footage from a camera, put it into a computer, edit it and burn a DVD or make a digital render for submission. It’s good that you learned this stuff before trying to skim the help files during the 48 hour project while watching the deadline tick closer and closer.

Similarly be careful of testing out new process/techniques with this project. Your friend just got a new DSLR and your used to shooting tape? TEST IT OUT FIRST before diving into a timed contest.

Tip 2: Separate out Preproduction, Production and Postproduction duties

As a team captain you really don’t have much choice but to be involved in every step of the production of your film. However you will see much better results if you delegate various stages of film to different people. Why? – Because each person will be required to put in less but more highly concentrated time into their part of the project.

Here’s a hypothetical. Let’s say you are the director/team captain. You have one writer (or a couple of writers). Once you pick your genre on Friday, you discuss the story with the writers and let them go off and bang away at a keyboard until they are satisfied with the script. They may take all Friday night to write and revise. Saturday morning rolls around, the writers go to bed and sleep while your Production team (who are fresh and ready to go) shoot the script. After a long shoot day, the production team hands off the footage to the Postproduction team (who are also fresh and ready to go). It’s late Saturday night, but the editor (who hasn’t been on set or writing) is able to work late into the night because he/she is hasn’t been toiling on set.
In this way the team members are contributing less time but you can overlap their efforts to get the most out of your 48 hours.

You’re job as a director/team captain is to coordinate the teams so they work and communicate with each other efficiently. And this means having CLEAN AND EFFECTIVE NOTES especially between Production and Post-production.

Tip 3: Get some Sleep

Seriously.

On Friday night, you get your genre and you’re pumped and ready to go. “How can I possibly sleep right now” you ask yourself… well you’ll find out real soon on Saturday night when your body gives out and you collapse into a deep slumber. I’ve seen it happen to teammates on two separate occasions.

Nothing good comes from a lack of sleep. You just become less creative, slower, and more irritable – all very bad things to happen on a 48 hour project.

Do whatever it takes to sleep on Friday night. You’ll need the energy if you want to make it through production. If you must, you can pull an all nighter once production is over but try to put in a few hours of shut eye. Everything about the project will be better for it.

To maximize the amount of rest, go back and see Tip 2.

Tip 4: Write with a Quick Production in Mind

This is a tip that can be a bit hard to understand for the inexperienced writer. There are a lot of shortcuts to telling a story that may require less production in other ways.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Use as few locations as possible: nothing slows down a production more than a company move – this is where you movie you cast and crew to a new location. Avoid these at all costs and tell a story that happens in one or two locations

Avoid special effects shots whenever possible: One or two scenes with a special effect can add some excitement to your film, otherwise avoid them unless absolutely needed.

Voice Overs save time: Yeah, it’s considered a story telling crutch, but what do you think you’re making here? Voice overs can help you establish story and exposition without a lot of on-set effort.

Avoid excessively long scenes and long monologues: Your actors will thank you.

A lot of times, less is more: I’ll leave it at that.

Try to tell “smaller stories”: Its okay if you pull the superhero genre and you have to have a bad guy bent on blowing up the world – but bring it down to a personal level. Maybe he wants to blow up the world because he didn’t get any presents on his birthday. Keep the stories smaller and they’ll translate better on screen.

Don’t sweat the line and prop: it’s generally pretty easy to slip it into whatever you’re making. If you can make your film all about the line/prop – go ahead, otherwise just make sure it’s in there so you can prove that you made it during the 48 hours.

Tip 5: Don’t be afraid of a little Comedy

Even if you pull Drama, a little bit of comedy will help the medicine go down.

Of course that’s my directorial style coming through…

But let me set up the screening scenario for you: There are usually about 10 films being shown. Depending on where you live, between 50% -90% of those films are going to blow chunks. I mean really bad. A couple of them may be utterly unwatchable.

And since everybody in the audience is a “filmmaker” – they’ll all be judging you on every level while being fantastically insecure about their own film.

So in short, there’s a lot of pent up tension in the room. And when there’s that kind of tension, the natural reaction often is to laugh often at the slightest provocation. The really bad films will get quite a few unwanted laughs.

If you can harness that nervous energy with some light hearted humorous moments in your film, you’ll disarm the audience and “trick” them into following your story instead of trying to determine exactly what brand of camera you shot with.

Besides, everyone is there to have a bit of fun. Watching dreary film one after the other gets on your nerves and a little light hearted fun can be welcomed.

Tip 6: Manage your Set

How you handle your set depends on a variety of factors including what type of script you’re shooting and what kind of equipment you have – experience will guide how you run a set. Here a few things to think about:

The first shot will take the longest: Actors need to get into makeup and costume, the camera needs to be set up, the lighting needs to be put together, people need to get used to working with each other. Whatever you decide to make your first shot, keep this in mind and don’t set up unrealistic expectations.

Let people know what’s happening now and what’s happening next.

Keep you cast and crew together as much as possible. Even though an actor is not needed in this particular scene, having her nearby means we won’t have to waste time finding out where she went when we’re ready to shoot her scene.

Shoot Multicamera if you can: The last project I did, we shot two Canon 5ds. This saved a great deal of time and provided the editor with a lot more creative choices in the cut. Whether you shoot opposing angles or same angle with different compositions (medium and close up for example) – you will save a great deal of time shooting with more than one camera.

Keep a finger on the mood of crew: Do they need a break? Are they getting grumpy? With such a tight time crunch, on set tempers can become an issue. Strive to keep everybody in a good relaxed mood and never ever lose your cool.

NEVER SKIP A MEAL BREAK – seriously don’t ever. These people aren’t getting paid, at least let them eat.

NEVER SERVE PIZZA AT A MEAL. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a slice of pepperoni. But pizza is both high in fat and carbs – which means your cast and crew will be groggy and slow after the meal. Save pizza for the wrap party. Instead, serve light protein and carbs – sandwiches, salads, pastas, kabobs… This will keep people peppier after the meal.

Have a lot of sugary sodas and alternative drinks on set: I never inhaled a Coke like I do when running around on set. I know it’s bad for me, but it can be the only thing keeping me on my feet. Not everybody is like that (or needs to fly a camera stabilizer for 10 minutes at a time) so have other options available.

Production is a social event: The work is being done between “action” and “cut”. Outside of that, people are there to have fun and mingle. The best time for group bonding is when everyone sits down and breaks bread. Coming out of this party mode and back into work mode can be a challenge once you get back into it, it will be a tighter and stronger team. You don’t want to schedule an extremely hard scene right after a meal, but you can use your meal time to build intra-team relationships that may be required to pull off a big tough scene.

Tip 7: Have Fun

This sounds like one of those B.S. tips that an author tags on to fill out the list – but I assure you this one is the most important one.

First of all, no one gets discovered or famous from their 48 hour film project (don’t believe me? Name one… I’ll wait as you Google it). So immediately get those dreams of fame and fortune out of your head. Remove the thoughts of winning awards too… you don’t need those anyway and they don’t mean jack.

And get rid of the idea of making something “great” – I’ve seen a lot of 48 hour films and they all have to be qualified as being “created in 48 hours” so that you ignore their shortcomings. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good films being made, but they don’t hold a candle to the short films where the writer spent months crafting a script and the director studied it closely and crafted it perfectly.

You are doing the 48 hour project because… wait… why are you doing this again?

To make a film… in 48 hours… to just say you did it and have fun doing it. That’s got to be your only reason.

The root of all 48 hour disasters is taking this thing far too seriously. If you want to make a great short film, go and make it but spend more than 48 hours on it.

The 48 hour film project is just an excuse to make a film and be done with it in one weekend. If you or someone on your team starts getting frustrated over something – defuse it immediately. Laugh it off. Nothing in the film is so important to get upset over.

Tip 8: Enter the 48HFP MACHINIMA

It is International, so you are not restricted to a physical location or city. Go HERE for information. Producers for 48HFPMachinima are Chantal Harvey and Tom Papas. The machinima contest is known for its fabulous and famous judges, past years including Tony Dyson and Peter Greenaway.

 

Source:  FilmmakerIQ.com

 

Santa Barbara International Film Festival

28 Annual January 24, 2013 to February 03, 2013

The SIBFF

 

MISSION & OBJECTIVE
Now in its 28th year, The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching local culture and raising consciousness of film as an art form. It presents quality American Independent, Spanish and Latin American, European, World and Documentary cinema within the beautiful setting of downtown Santa Barbara, a perfect backdrop and premier tourist destination in its own right. SBIFF will continue to build its acquisitions program with Traction Media, which highlights films for some of the world’s most viable distribution companies. SBIFF is also committed to educating our youth through the “10-10-10” youth filmmakers project and the unique “Field Trip to the Movies” program. With a projected audience of over 70,000, The Festival will screen more than 200 films over an eleven day period. SBIFF attracts an affluent, local, national and international consumer base, while maintaining strong ties with the entertainment industry in Los Angeles.

ABOUT THE FESTIVAL
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is an eleven day event held in the seaside resort city of Santa Barbara, California (90 minutes north of Los Angeles). SBIFF is proud to present a diverse slate of more than 200 films to over 70,000 film enthusiasts. Our audience is a unique combination of film industry professionals, local, regional and International attendees, and a large student population.

In addition to showcasing a diverse spectrum of films, tributes and galas. SBIFF also offers seminars with industry professionals including Directors, Screenwriters, Producers and Women’s Panels, as well as provocative Q&A sessions with a diverse selection of filmmakers.

SBIFF has established itself as one of the premier international film festivals and we look forward to building on that success in 2013 and creating opportunities for participants to network with some of the world’s leading independent distributors and filmmakers. In addition to expanding our slate each year to highlight emerging genres, styles and regions, SBIFF is growing our free educational and community outreach programs with the “10-10-10” youth filmmakers project, “Field Trip to the Movies” and “Applebox” which cumulatively served over 12,000 students and families during our last festival. Please visit our Website for more information on these and other SBIFF programs. http://www.sbfilmfestival.org

ORGANIZERS
Michael Albright (Programming Manager) ; Michal Wiesbrock (Director of Development) ; Mickey Dudevich (Programming Coordinator) ; Rodney Gould (Director of Operations) ; Rodney Gould (Director of Operations) ; Roger Durling (Executive Director) ; Sean Pratt (Operations Manager) ; Steve Blain (Managing Director)

GENERAL RULES
Each tape for projection must be labeled with name, filmmaker, Contact info, Running time and aspect ratio (4*3 or 16*9)

FILM ENTRY RULES

The accepted exhibition formats for our festival are :
35 mm – Optical, Dolby A, Dolby Digital only
Digibeta – 29.97 fps, Stereo
Sony HDCam – Sony HD cam only 23.98 fps and 59.94 fps, Audio is STEREO only

NOTE: These formats may vary depending on the category. Please check the submissions guidelines or contact programming@sbfilmfestival.org

All films must be in NTSC format. PAL is not accepted. It is the filmmakers responsibility to convert PAL to NTSC.

**FEE WAIVERS NOT AVAILABLE **

-Entry fee is non-refundable.

-For preview purposes, DVD (NTSC only) is preferred.
-DVDs MUST BE CLEARLY labeled on the spine with film title.

-Please do not send press kits with your screener unless requested.
-DVDs will not be returned.

-Films/videos that have received national U.S. network television (including cable) or theatrical release prior to Festival are not eligible.

-No music videos or commercials.

-More than one entry may be submitted. Each entry must be accompanied by its own online entry and entry fee.

-If your film is selected, original format prints will be due at the Festival offices no later than January 13th, 2012.

-The filmmaker will assume shipping costs of materials and print to SBIFF.

-Please DO NOT send in a press kit until AFTER you have received notification from SBFF.

-Upon acceptance, Filmmakers must agree to send no less than two high resolution digital screen shots to be used at the SBIFF’s discretion. Film posters will not be accepted.

-If your film is selected, you will be asked to provide: digital stills from the film; press materials; video trailer and digitized trailer for website (if available); posters and flyers.

-Titles produced in languages other than English must have legible English subtitles.

-Not all invited films officially selected will be eligible for competition.

-The selection committees’ and juries’ decisions are final.

-If selected, filmmaker gives SBIFF permission to audio-describe film for the sight-impaired.

-Title of work, WAB ID #, and name of entrant must be on all mailing containers and mailing labels, video boxes, photographs, videocassettes, film containers, cans, reels, and film leaders. Video boxes, film reels and cans must be numbered (1 of 2, 2 of 2, etc.).

-If paying by check, the check MUST include the film title and WAB ID #

-Import declaration statements: all non-U.S. entries must be sent via air mail registered with the declaration:

A) for 35mm films: “Free entry claimed under #724.10 (960.55) U.S. Tariff Act. To be returned following the Festival.”

B) for videotapes: “Free entry claimed under #724.12 (960.60) U.S. Tariff Act. To be returned following the Festival.” Entrants must assume all responsibility for clearing films and videotapes through U.S. and/or foreign customs officials.

-SBIFF reserves the right to make any necessary changes in regulations or Festival scheduling.