Friday, May 10, 2013

Dispatch from a 48 Hour Film Project Screening

Last night I went to one of the six screenings of films made in this years Boston 48 Hour Film Project. This year 84 teams started the event and 81 finished - 63 of them on time. Having watched a team make a film, and being aware of what goes in to this sort of thing, I really think that everyone did a great job. Not all of the films were brilliant; and it's probably not surprising that none of the films were really perfect, but it was still an interesting - and inspiring - night for aspiring filmmakers.

Here's some more tips I gleaned from the showing:

  • Plan your time: A significant number of films were 'late.' You have to plan out your post time, how long it will take to render that last edit (and leave yourself enough time incase there's a problem with that render) AND leave plenty of time to get to the drop-off point.
  • Audio, audio, audio: The consistently weak part in many of the productions was the audio. Image quality was actually pretty good (thanks to DSLRs I suspect) but the audio was the biggest disappointment, whether it was background noise, muffled audio, different acoustic properties, mis-matched levels or effects and music that were too loud or didn't match the action. A few films did a good job, but it was noticeable how many issues there were with audio.
  • A well developed story: It's a common theme in film making that you need a good story - and good actors too - but there were a number of films that had a pretty good story, but they didn't quite pull it off. Several times it felt like there was a piece missing; a scene that explained a motivation for example, or a real conclusion. Whether these were missed in the writing process, or they weren't able to shoot everything they planned, is subject to speculation. I suspect that had everyone had one more day to look at their edit and then shoot any missing pieces, then several of these films would have been even stronger. Of course, before you know it, you'll be having 7-day film projects!
  • Simple Editing can be hard: You can spot bad editing mistakes easily enough, but once you get to a certain level of performance from the actors, then editing goes to another level in difficulty; a fraction of a second too long or too short on an actor can mean the difference between a performance that works, or one that doesn't. And it won't be the actor or the directors fault.
  • Consistent Color: Jarring changes in color, particularly from shot to shot in a scene, but also from one scene to another if the scene takes place in the same general location, can really take you out of the moment.
  • The credits are part of the movie: Under the official rules the credits aren't included in the length of the movie. But they are shown as part of the movie, and you should try and do a good job with them; people are watching them with your movie and they add to the impression the audience has of your movie.
  • Getting the required line of dialog into the movie is hard: I think less than half the movies managed to really pull off the line without it feeling like it had been shoe-horned in.
One last thing. While there were several first-time teams at this event, there was also four teams that had competed in 9 or more 48-hour film projects. Clearly, they can be addictive!

1 comment:

CleggoMyEggo said...

Having done 7 of these myself, I will say the crutch of most films is the audio. The problem si they don't have an award for best audio, probably because you don't notice good audio yet can't get over bad. Our plan time wise was to always have the picture locked for audio mix at 9am on Sunday. That meant the edit took place overnight, but the 8 hours alloted to a proper ProTools mix made all the difference.

Our philosphy was always that the character, line and prop needed to be essential to the story. That is the point, right?

We haven't done it in a while. We won twice (Overbyte and Conversion) and after 7 films, we basically retired. Always had a lot of fun doing it and I encourage anyone to do so.

You can check out our films here: