First, thank you to anyone who stumbles upon this page. I appreciate your interest and time.
For all the actors out there, I will always recommend a film competition…
A couple of weekends ago, a friend… Let’s give her the nickname “Sandy.” Sandy approached me with a crazy idea. Our school holds an annual film festival. As an opening to the event, they conduct a 120-Hour Film competition where the winner’s work will premier opening-night in front of a large audience.
Participants are given 120 consecutive hours to write, shoot and edit a project under specific requirements. This is a very stressful window. Producing a film can sometimes take months or even years and we are squishing it into five days. Back to my friend, Sandy turned to me in class, held the flier towards me and asked, “Hey, do you want to do this?” I paused with apprehension and reluctantly replied, “Sure.”
I hesitated because I participated in the Los Angeles 48-Hour film festival two years ago and still remember the trauma. Staying up all night memorizing lines for an early call time, shooting in a tight window, only to watch the panic as we edited footage while shooting each scene. However, I thought, “We are getting an extra three days in comparison to that experience.”
Sandy and I texted and called each other over the following week:
She said, “So we’ll need a cameraman.”
I said, “We only know actors, but I know So-And-So has gotten into photography. So he might be good.”
She replied, “Oh awesome. I don’t know him that well so maybe you should hit him up. We also need an editor.”
I replied, “Let me ask around. I have some friends that might be into doing it.”
This back and forth continued until we built our team. Somehow we acquired a cameraman, director, editor, beat-mixer and a grip.
Thursday 4:00 P.M, the competition officially began. Only three of us (me, Sandy and So-And-So) attended the mandatory film-meeting to receive our log-line. It is common for most competitions to provide the writing-topic a couple of minutes prior to the start time. That way, no one can cheat or begin before any other team.
- Must be a comedy.
- All creative work must take place during the “Official 120 Hour Time Period.” Creative work includes, but is not limited to: writing the script, rehearsing, costume/set design, shooting, editing, sound design, rendering.
- However, work that can begin prior to is organizing, crew, organizing cast, securing equipment, scouting/securing locations.
- Film length cannot exceed more than a maximum of five minutes in duration and be a minimum of three minutes in duration.
- The ending-credits may be no longer than a maximum of one minute in length. Allowing a total of six minutes for the production. Ending-credits can only be displayed on a black screen with white text. No superimposed ending-credits.
- The final line of the film must be, “I have found my creative family!” or a close variation of it, for example, “We have found our creative family!” Do not add words or alter the line.
The rules were simple in comparison to other competitions.
After the meeting, we huddled our heads together because I already conceived an idea. Everyone agreed with the concept. We each took our individual tasks and dispersed. I ran home to write the script and secure a location. After about two hours I accomplished both errands. I proceeded to send everyone the script, printed copies, organized for the next day by creating a shooting board with the cameraman/director and learned my lines. By the end of the night I relayed to everyone their call times, characters/jobs and the shooting-location.
Friday 7:30 A.M., we met at the shooting location. We were all tired and I am not a morning person. It’s the three of us again before everyone else arrived at 8:45 A.M. We woke our dear friend, “Blender,” to let us into his place and dressed the set. We forgot a few items, but because I decided everyone should wake up stupid early for a fun project we had an extra 30 minutes for breakfast and time to grab those last things. The actors began to arrive and it was a slow start, but eventually we were up and running. We finished most of the shots by 1:00 P.M. Half of the group departed the other half stopped for an hour lunch. We ended the day by 3:30 P.M. I said, “Thanks guys. I appreciate all of you.”
Saturday 6:00 P.M. I waited nervously in a random Starbucks for my editor, “The Kid,” because I am carrying the most precious treasure I have ever possessed, an external hard-drive containing all of our footage. It was raining cats and dogs. I thought, “Isn’t this Los Angeles?” The Kid eventually arrived. We then proceeded to go through each shot one by one on her laptop, picking out the strongest choices. We departed. She ventured off with instructions to make a master piece.
Sunday morning, I received the first edited footage. It was nothing like I envisioned, haha. Some of the shots were weird angles, a few of the transitions were jarring, we did not have enough master-shots and we were over the time limit by 34 seconds. The most worrisome thing… it was not funny. It was not funny and it was suppose to be a comedy. Over the next few days The Kid and I reviewed the footage pulling shots and adding inserts/reactions.
Tuesday morning, I handed the final footage for music to “Hustler” (also my oldest friend). However, due to a brilliant idea from another friend, “Bookworm,” we dropped the sound on the awkward parts to emphasize the moments, hoping to increase the comedy of the footage. By 2:00 P.M. I acquired the finished footage and left the house to drop it off.
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