May 1, 2010
A whirlwind movie-making cram session, the 48 Hour Film Project challenges teams of filmmakers from 70 cities all over the world. Each team is given a character, prop, genre, and a line of dialogue and must write, shoot, and edit a film in just 48 hours. Filmapalooza, held each year at the NAB Show, features the best film from each city, selected from over 2,500 entries on four continents. According to the organisers, back in May 2001, Mark Ruppert came up with a crazy idea: to try to make a film in 48 hours. He quickly enlisted his filmmaking partner, Liz Langston, and several other DC filmmakers to form their own teams and join him in his experiment. The big question back then was, “Would films made in only 48 hours even be watchable?” The answer was a resounding “yes”, and now nine years later and with more than 150 competitions having taken place around the world, it is amazing to consider the success of the Project, the organisers said. The 48 Hour Film Project’s mission is “to advance filmmaking and promote filmmakers”. The tight deadline puts the focus squarely on the filmmakers – emphasizing creativity and teamwork skills. According to the organisers, “While the time limit places an unusual restriction on the filmmakers, it is also liberating by putting an emphasis on ‘doing’ instead of ‘talking’.” The Singapore leg of the Project, now in its third year, is produced by Meghan Shea and Michael Rogers. Over 20 teams participated this year, and both the city winner and the audience choice winner received a copy each of Media Composer 4.0, sponsored by Avid. The city winner’s film will also be screened at Filmapalooza next year, where it will compete with around 70 films from all over the world. —————————————————————————— THE 48 HOURS OF MADNESS A recap into how Audience Choice award winners for 2010’s 48 Hour Film Project, Method in Madness, managed to write, direct and edit a short film titled The Arrival with a team of five. Written by the team’s production manager, Lisa Cheong. For some filmmakers, writing, shooting and editing a short film within 48 hours may seem like a herculean feat. But for directors David Shiyang Liu (5 Films in an Anthology of a Film a Month) and Nicole Midori Woodford (Kitchen Quartet), they saw this as an opportunity to collaborate with each other on a film for the first time. Unlike many of the 48-hour film teams this year, Liu and Woodford chose to keep the team small as a way of pushing themselves to their limits to see how much they can accomplish within a short time frame. Furthermore, both directors felt that a small crew did not put them as a disadvantage as both directors had skills in the areas of producing, editing and visual effects. How the madness all panned out: 30th April, 6pm Friday night: The various teams converged at the campus of NYU Tisch School of the Arts Asia, as organisers Meghan Shea and Mike Rogers briefed the teams on the rules and regulations of the competition. Shortly after, from each team representatives queued up to draw their movie genre out of a hat. As the teams before us announced their genres (Film noir! Romance! Drama!), Method in Madness drew the science-fiction genre. The organisers also unveiled the three must-haves which needed to be included in every team’s fi lm. Teams needed to incorporate a pillow as a prop, a character called Eugene or Eunice Ling who works as a personal trainer, and the phrase “Well, that certainly changes things”. 8pm (42.5 hours remaining): After leaving the Tisch campus, Method in Madness went for a lengthy three-hour dinner and brainstorming session. Due to time constraint and the directors’ lack of experience in this genre, the directors agreed to stay away from the usual sci-fi tropes of laser guns and aliens, and veer towards telling a story about human connections instead. 1am (39 hours remaining): The next meet-up was held at Woodford’s house, where she spent some time on the phone convincing director/actor Thomas Lim (Roulette City) to act alongside actress Oon Shu An (Kitchen Quartet). Before the night ended at 4am, the co-directors had already cranked out a story which they felt enthusiastic about and wanted to tell. The story revolves around a Singaporean girl who is reluctantly roped into helping a Cantonese-speaking stranger fi nd his way back home. As the night progresses on, the girl learns that the stranger is more than what he seems. 1st May, 2pm (26.5 hours remaining) : The team met up at Woodford’s house again to finalise the beats for the film. In order to save time, two directors decided not to come up with a traditional script, but typed out a list of beats with the description of camera angles for each scene instead. And even though much of the script would have to be relied on the actors for improvisation, the directors also wrote down the main dialogue points which the actors needed to cover in order for the plot to progress. 8pm (23.5 hours remaining): Keeping in tandem with the sci-fi genre, the team’s ideal location was one with minimalist, modern architecture. With no extra lighting on hand, the team also needed a location that could provide ample lighting for the set as well. After a quick location scouting along Dhoby Gaut, the team’s initial plan of using the park space above the train station was quickly dismissed after the place was found to be visually unattractive and too dark for the shoot. Banking on a suggestion to explore the Circle Line stations, the team managed found the perfect location at the Bras Basah station where its long shiny escalators, high walls and lack of traffic fit the feel of the story perfectly. 10.30pm, call time for cast (21 hours remaining): Actor Thomas Lim arrived at Dhoby Gaut and while waiting for our actress, the directors briefed Lim on the premise of the story. 11.00pm (20.5 hours remaining): Armed with a Canon 5D Mark II DSLR, an Audio-Technica shotgun microphone and a Zoom H2 recorder tucked into the pocket of Lim’s blazer, we hurried towards the Circle Line Bras Basah station to shoot before the station closed. Over the loudspeaker calls for passengers to board the last trains, Method in Madness manage to squeeze in six lengthy shots within 20 minutes before exiting the station. 2nd May, 2am (17.5 hours remaining): We were shooting the scenes at the coffeeshop along Bencoolen Street when friends whom we initially roped in to play the roles of Eugene and Eunice phoned with bad news. “Eugene” was slightly tipsy and would not be able to arrive on set to act in his role, and “Eunice” didn’t feel comfortable acting in the scene alone. Out of the sheer desperation, Liu and I agreed to take one for the team and fill in as the film’s extras. 4am (15.5 hours remaining): I’d lost our prop. When the team was headed down to the Orchard Road and Somerset vicinity for the toilet and street scenes, I had accidentally thrown away the two apples which we had shot with earlier in the train station. After four convenience store clerks and two restaurant waitresses in the Orchard vicinity told me that they do not sell apples, I hopped into a cab and asked the taxi driver to take me to the nearest petrol kiosk station – wherever it was – hoping that they would sell apples there. And to my luck, they did! Even the birds posed as a challenge for the film crew as well. While the streets of Orchard Road were relatively quiet in the wee hours of the morning, the chirps from the birds in the trees above were so loud that it became a concern about whether the noise would drown out the actors’ dialogue. Finally, the directors called it a wrap at 7am just as workers startstreaming back onto Orchard Road. 7.30am (12 hours remaining): Back at Liu’s house, the directors looked at the rushes before showering and collapsing into bed. 12pm (7.5 hours remaining): Oops! The co-directors, who are also responsible for the editing slept through their alarm clocks and are now two hours behind schedule. With two Apple laptops placed side by side, Woodford started work on the assembly edit in Final Cut Pro while Liu worked on the visual effects of the film in Adobe After Effects. Due to the frenzy in the train station, it was only during postproduction when Liu realised that my hand (which helped aid the visual effects take) was accidentally captured on film as well. This meant even more work for Liu – and what he initially envisioned as an hour’s worth of rotoscoping work eventually took three hours to complete. 5.30pm (2 hours remaining): In order to make the 7.30pm deadline, the editors made a decision not spend precious time syncing the sound from the Zoom H2 recorder to the film, and just rely on the sound recorded through the Audio- Technica shotgun microphone. Meanwhile, Woodford sourced for the film’s music via musician Moby’s website, mobygratis.com, which provides free film music for independent and non-profit filmmakers working on independent films or shorts. 6pm: Just before rendering the film, the team realised that they’ve forgotten to add the subtitles for Lim’s speaking lines and rush to include them in the film. 7pm: No minute was spared as Liu used the time in the car ride to Tisch to burn the film on disc for the organisers, with a thumbdrive used as backup. 7:20pm: The team arrived at the Tisch campus and submitted the film with 10 minutes to spare. Success!