This past weekend saw another 48 Hour Film Slam in Bradford, Vermont. It was the 6th Annual Film Slam to be sponsored by the Cohase Chamber of Commerce. Cohase being the region here in upper New Hampshire and Vermont.
Friday evening the competing film teams drew their genres from a hat. They were then given a list of required ‘musts’ they must embed into the film.
This year’s physical requirements were a sap bucket, and a product placement (advertisement piece); a plastic cup with a sponsors name written on it. Woodsville Guarantee Savings Bank, in this case. Also a location; the Newbury Village Store, and a line of dialog; “I don’t know, Herman. Something about you just pisses me off”.
The teams retired to come up with what they hoped was a great story. They built props, checked out locations, prepared costumes. They had already composed their cast and crew, checked their equipment, and lined up a caterer. Then they acted, filmed, edited and wrote music.
Because my son heads a film team I’ve seen some of the nitty gritty aspects that go on behind the scenes. Cast and crew catching cat-naps wherever they can, whenever they can. Fake blood production in the kitchen, clean-up of fake blood where its been liberally used. People eating in shifts, sometimes in the middle of the night while they are still working. Trucking equipment here and there, trucking cast and crew hither and yon, and shooting till there’s no light left to see. I’ve seen hopes raised, dashed, and materialized when the seven minute films are judged.
This year only five teams competed. Few compared to other years and venues, but still serious business. Never let your guard down, never let yourself think that you have this film sewn up and tied with a bow, because you never know what the judges and audience will think. It has to be the best you can do in 48 hours, even if it means no sleep and working with perpetual jet-lag.
The team members love it. These competitions get their blood flowing – that’s real blood, in real veins.
In past years my home has been a set and I’ve been caterer. I’ve housed cast and/or crew, and have been a general dogs-body. This year I was invited to sit in on the two hour story marathon where everyone involved speed wrote and pitched their story.There was a vote and the most popular choices were then reviewed by the directors. I was totally surprised when my story was picked because I thought that other stories were more exciting. Exciting isn’t necessarily what is looked for. There’s audience appeal, feasibility, and comprehension. Even in a Monster movie.
We wrote a screenplay from my narrative and I went home and crawled into bed at 2 AM. Not to sleep, though. Too many thoughts ran through my head all night.
The next morning I checked my email for the screenplay only to find that all sorts of things had been changed overnight. Should I fuss about it? Naw, it’s out of my hands now. When I got the call later to say I was needed to play a character even more things had changed.
Shooting my scene happened at midnight, after which I went home and crawled into bed, again not to sleep. Too much adrenalin coursed through my veins.
Early the next morning shooting was wrapped up in the woods behind my house. Later we all prepared for the big event that evening. Our film was turned in one minute before the deadline. Harrowing!
We won. So happy. Celebratory festivities.
I crawled into bed that night, but sleep again eluded me. Just too much excitement for an old lady I guess.
The film making process is fun, but definitely exhausting. Am sleep deprived as I write this.
Will include a link to the film hopefully the next time I post. Now to sleep.