2 weekends ago I participated in the annual 48 Hours Filmmaking Competition. Each team had to make a film containing a character named Sydney, a broken toy, the line “When you look at it that way”, and a dolly zoom. Cutting straight to the chase, here is the result:
I don’t think it turned out too badly – technical limitations aside I think we had a fairly decent story. The audience seemed to enjoy the film during the showing and the reviews have been generally favourable (more or less.) Unfortunately we were disqualified from the judging due to technical problems with the master we submitted on the day, but it didn’t matter in the end. One of the other teams in our heat submitted a brilliant film that was always going to be the finalist.
This is not the first time I have been involved in the 48 Hours Competition. I did it about 5 years ago with a much more professional team in Auckland. The experience was so stressful that I almost didn’t take the opportunity this year but I am glad that I did.
Bevan, the producer/director, assembled a random collection of people with little/no experience, many of whom could not be present for the whole weekend. Our equipment consisted of an 10 year old handicam (borrowed on the understanding that the owner’s daughter would be cast), a tripod and (for part of the time) some lights. So unlike my previous experience which involved hours of makeup, set dressing, rehearsing with proper actors and messing around with lighting rigs we just got on and shot stuff as we could. We actually had most of the shots on film by mid-afternoon on Saturday, about the time my previous team started shooting!
In case you are wondering, I was the main camera operator by dint of my knowledge of white balance. Having a camera with no-focus ring and no way to control the aperture made the job pretty simple. I only dropped the camera on concrete once, it actually worked better afterwards.
I think the strength of A Name and A Number is the story, a lot of films in the competition look and sound better but have plots that don’t resolve properly. If you think our film doesn’t go anywhere you should see some of the others. Although the film is humorous, the story is told in a serious tone (it was originally intended to be a psychological drama) which I think helps – a lot of the entries try to be funny which is hard to (intentionally) pull off. Lame drama is more watchable than a lame comedy.