48 Recap

Hard to believe this is our fifth year participating in the 48 Hour Film Project (and our sixth film — what were we thinking doing two films at once in only our second year?). And every time I’m reminded that this really is film school; as far as I’m concerned, we’d better take advantage of that and try something new each time.

So if our big “add-on” last year was bringing in a professional author to write our script (well, and pushing the envelope with noir-styled lighting — no small feat given our meager lighting kit), then this year had a few new elements. We brought in another professional author (Barry Lyga), worked with two great SAG actors (Joe Hansard and Jennifer Massey) as our leads, shot in HDV, and even managed to use a homemade car mount for our “road movie.”

With a lot of our regular troupe (both in front of and behind the camera) unavailable this time around, we’d be a little leaner than usual. But there’s something to be said for keeping things small — and coming right off of “Number One With a Bullet,” we’d honed our workflow pretty well. Of course, the time we’d spent on the earlier shoot also meant we hadn’t prepared as much as usual, so we’d be winging things a bit.

So, about the weekend. After the kickoff event, I spent the drive home brainstorming with Barry (and some really wild ideas got tossed around at that stage), so that by the time I’d arrived at our “base of operations,” we already had a good handle on the story, and Pam and I could begin working out casting and logistics (including borrowing a neighbor’s beat-up old car — as Pam says, the “third star” of our movie). It was still a late night, but we were in great shape to start shooting first thing Saturday morning.

Saturday was (as usual) a loooong day, but we managed to remain pretty flexible. We did have to switch the timing for one location (which meant we lost an actress for that scene and had to recast at the last minute), but we still managed to finish everything by around midnight. And we got some really great performances — and shots — in the process. Then it was time to get the overnight editor (Jacob Cremer, back in town for the weekend) set up and grab a couple of hours’ rest before the big scramble on Sunday.

We did run into a few snags at that point. We weren’t able to get in touch with the artist whose music we’d originally wanted to use (he was out of town without phone or email access), so that was out. (Fortunately, the 48 Hour Film Project organizers had worked out a music licensing deal that gave us a few options.) Jacob wasn’t able to get as far as I’d hoped (we had a lot of material there), which meant I still had to string out a lot of footage before I could start polishing anything. And our initial cut — once we reached that stage — came in at more than nine minutes. The upper limit being seven. Whoops.

So as unfortunately happens at that stage, you make tradeoffs. And in our case, that meant sacrificing color and audio correction for really taking the time to look at the piece and make intelligent cuts. So while it may not be as technically polished as I’d like, it’s a lot more creatively rewarding. And that “second choice” music really ended up complementing the story perfectly.

And most importantly, we got it finished. (Just one copy, though — no time for a backup.)

Oh, and the title? “All Roads Lead Away.”

Will there be a “director’s cut”? Probably — but that’ll mostly be just to correct those technical issues. The old mantra about editing holds true — the forced necessity of cutting it down really does improve the flow of the story. So while I may add a couple of shots (and maybe one scene) back in, it certainly won’t be going back up to that nine-minute version.

Now I can’t wait to see it up on the big screen; it promises to be a great capper to the whole experience. (And for the record, I’ve also gotten a sneak peek at the Integral Arts entry — so I can say that attendees at tonight’s 9:30 screening will not be disappointed. Do you have your tickets yet?)

Hope to see you all there!