Monday, August 19, 2013

Journal: Weekend of the 48 Hour Film Guerrilla Making Competition

This weekend I was busy taking part in the 48 Hour Guerrilla Film Competition. In short, they give you and a few friends a random genre, a line of dialogue, and 48 hours during which to make a movie with that fits the genre. Here's my report of what happened.

"Howdy! We're making a film!"

8am-11:50am - I worked a half day, then drove to a friend's house to steal internet and call the Director, Yuri, who would be handling preparations at the filming site. The filming site is 2 hours south of where I live so a phone call seemed more feasible.
12:00-12:05pm - I prepared to push the button that would start the timer but couldn't get in touch with Yuri. I left a voicemail and contemplated what genre we'd get.
12:05-12:15pm - Yuri called me back. I pushed the timer. Due to horrible reception issues he could only hear every 3rd word I said. Our genre was "Coming of Age" film, our line of dialogue, "They found him in Mbassa, in a ballroom drinking gin." This took about 10 minutes to communicate.
12:15-2:30pm - Yuri suggested we each write a script, so I got lunch and wrote something I was pretty proud of. A professional gladiator who wants to be a musician.
2:30-3:30pm - I called Yuri and told him about the script. He told me it was horrible and that he had something better. He sort of explained his idea but he didn't sell me on it. Something to do with a gladiator addicted to drugs. I didn't really like the sound of it so I packed everything I'd need for my script.
3:30-5:15pm - I drove to Yuri's. Not much traffic, he just lives in the middle of nowhere... The very middle. Note: It still has better phone reception than where I live.
5:15-9:30pm - Chris presented a script idea to me that was significantly more comical than the previous ones, a girl who's parents wants her to grow up and leave the house. I threw out my script completely. Over the next few hours we revised the script. The character's mom was dead, her dad was a drunk, and her spirit guides were now on drugs for some reason. Lacking anything that looked like drugs we acquired protean pills, a corn-cob pipe, and food dye. A 24 pack of beer was consumed by four people (I don't drink) while the script was written and props were acquired. I practiced accordion for an upcoming show somewhere during this.
9:30-11pm - Adam, our lights/sound/camera guy and I set up everything for the first shot, which we'd film once our director returned from his night job as a bouncer.
11-11:30pm - Content that all was ready, the cast and crew were given leave to sleep until Yuri returned.

Can you spot the 4th person jumping in the air?

11:30-7am - To my horror, Yuri never woke us up. Luckily my alarm clock did.
7-10am - Everyone got up, got costumes on, ate breakfast, and chatted while doing a final review of the script. We didn't have paper so the script was only read off a laptop and everyone had to memorize the script because it didn't have that great a battery life.
10-11pm - We filmed the first scene and I acted as a secondary cinematographer. The cast and crew were efficient and I felt better about having to leave at noon...
11-11:55pm - We prepped the second location. I cut the palm of my hand on a light while running through spurs, orb spiders, and other things found in the Florida wild. Four of us dragged a heavy couch-bed into the woods.
11:55-2:15pm - Due to a horrible case of double-booking, I was forced to depart for Orlando and leave the others to finish filming. I listened to the Ender's Game book on tape and continued to enjoy a story about strategy and psychology. I downed a half-gallon of sweet tea and consumed chips. Most important meal of the day...
2:15pm-2:40pm - Last minute practice and prep. The Ocean King is still missing an eye, so I left him because I lacked glue or an eye patch.
2:40-5:20pm - I was driven to Orlando by my parents while I caught a few hours of much needed sleep.
5:20-6:50pm - I coordinated the band's arrival (I somehow beat them there), paid $20 parking (!), and talked to random attendees at AFO about our show at 7pm. It turns out most of the people at AFO don't pay for admission and can't get into the events. Oddity aside I made a few new friends, bumped into a few people I knew, and got a phone call informing me that the movie was completely filmed. Someone would be dropping off the footage (on an SD card) at my place later that night. I was starting to feel sickly and overheated.
6:50-7:05pm - Final prep for the show and a sound check.  I went through the usual routine, warmups, a few vocal ones too. My headset padding had officially fallen off, leaving only an unpleasant sticky substance behind, my batteries were less than half full, and I felt like I was developing a fever. The band also asked me to perform Ocea King, which i'd not practiced due to the aforementioned eye damage. We started 5 minutes late, which is extremely rare for us. Then again, so is Moose's drum head detaching itself right before a show.
7:05-8pm - We powered through the set, played a few songs waaay too fast, and made up the lost time. I borrowed a friendly lady's lucky sock for Ocean King, I played my hardest, and when my batteries died during the last song I moshed with people. All in all I had fun and other people seemed to have fun too. Victory. The final count was 45 people at the show and I think my fever broke... Or I was just generally sweaty.
8pm-8:15 - I said my goodbyes to people and packed up.
8:15-10:40pm - My parents graciously drove me back home while I slept.
10:40-12:15am - Mom left behind a goods basket filled with food that I consumed while showering. A friend made tea while I panicked. It seemed that the editing software I was using: Adobe Premiere Pro CC (basically CS7) was having technical difficulties. After I determined that I couldn't reach the Adobe help line, I called my friend in LA who's worked with on a number of projects with me and he helped navigate the problems. Premiere Pro CC is pretty awesome after all and I'm happy for its $30/month feature.

Friends don't let friends dress themselves when sleep deprived
"I'm gonna wreck it!"

12:15-3am - I felt very cold for some reason and dressed myself in foul weather gear (or perhaps like Wreck-it Ralph) without realizing it. I found the dead-drop for the footage hidden near my door and edited the film. The film was shot in such a way that I could easily defend all of my editing decisions (this shot over that one, etc...) and had no trouble picking the best of everything. Very little real creative decisions, just some logic "work." I barely had to fiddle with the audio, which was unexpected because it was windy while we were shooting! Upon completion I had the horrible realization that our film was 15 minutes long and the rules stipulate that it can only be 8 minutes.
3-6am - I discovered that the film was only actually 13 minutes long (there were a few blank gaps in the timeline) and that my math is very bad at 3am. Still, 13 minutes is more than the allowed 8. I spent a few hours creatively cutting the film down to almost half size!
6-7am - I added music, did light color correction/adjustments, and clicked export.
7-7:30am - I slept while the film exported.
7:30-7:45am - I called the director and showed him the movie through Skype. It wouldn't upload to youtube for some reason.
7:45-8:02am - Yuri told me make a few revisions, notably to remove a random lightning/glowing eyes effect I spent a half hour on in a fit of sleep-deprived madness.
8:02-10am - I made the revisions and had various issues uploading the video to the 48GFC website. I exported the movie a half dozen different ways to no avail.
10-11am - I realized that they accept dropbox links and just did that. Competition complete!
11-1pm - I treated myself to victory Cheerios, some Banjo Kazooie, and watched an FBI show with my roommates I enjoyed but have no recollection of beyond "British people vs Terrorists."
1-4pm - I revised and exported various Random Encounter tracks for the new album. Awesome how these deadlines all happen to be the same day.
4-7pm - It was raining so I watched a British horror film about suicidal couples who like to die at this tree somewhere in the UK. It wasn't nearly as bad as expected and I found myself enjoying it quite a bit. My memory is really hazy but I think I plotted my Monday D&D game, checked up on the band's kickstarter and cooked dinner. I could just be making those last parts up though because I kept falling asleep while talking to people and would have had to have washed the dishes involved with a "cooking" activity, erasing all proof that it actually happened. I fell asleep somewhere around this time.

Anyway, here's a link to the film we made:


  1. Looks like you met your KS goal, neat! Looking forward to the digital download...

    1. Thanks! I'm really happy we got funded and have been in "mixing" mode for the last week.
      I've been listening to these songs for the last month or two and can't wait to share them with human beings once they're 100%.