In the days before the 48 Hour Film Project, Bill and Robin were joking about chain emails and then thinking how that concept would be interesting for the movie. But with our genre and required elements still not established, they didn’t want to go too far down that road. (In the 48 Hour Film Project, you pick your genre out of a hat and there is a required prop, character, and line of dialogue.) However, that night as I slept, I took that germ of a concept, mixed it with The Office, and a parody video, “Flutter.” I dreamed about a mockumentary about a business that starts all of those obnoxious chain emails. When I told Bill in the morning, he laughed, but not knowing what we’d have to use when we wrote our film, it didn’t make sense to work up the idea. We thought about writing it up afterward for our own film.
When Bill went to the kick-off party and drew the Holiday Film genre, the idea came back into play: What if we went with the mockumentary, but it was at the office Christmas party? On Friday night, Bill and Robin started off the brainstorming and script writing while I finished up the Drama Club performance with my fourth grader (she did an amazing job as a chicken). Back at home, Robin wrote up the script as Bill and I made suggestions, selected our cast, and made phone calls. I ran around the house finding Christmas decorations.
Saturday morning, we headed into Bill’s old office building, where he had gotten permission to film. It was a great set-up for us, offering lots of spaces for scenes, but also lots of room to wait around. Even with only one day to film, there’s a lot of waiting around in the movies. Both of the girls came to be in the Research & Development scenes, and also to help with the clapper board, set decoration, and general gofer jobs. I took calls from our cast and crew, made sure everyone was where they needed to be, picked internal locations, decorated and took down sets, made sure everyone had plenty of food (very important), arranged the order of filming for scenes, walked the actors through some parts, and made sure all the paperwork was in order. Bill just directed the movie. Slacker.
We had a great time during the day, with a pretty relaxed feel considering our tight schedule. The actors gave us some stellar performances. Really top notch. I may be biased, but my favorite scene is with my fourth grader, where the marketing woman is trying to get some ideas about the next generation of chain email users, but is having trouble working with a kid. I also love my seventh grader as a typical teen, texting instead of thinking about the marketer’s questions. The party scene was the most fun to film, and I do make an appearance there as an employee.
We wrapped up at 10:00 p.m. and Bill went into the office to work with the preliminary edit. In the wee hours of the morning he came back to the house for a few hours of sleep, and then went back to edit the film and add sound effects, music, and credits. Oh, and play with sound levels and color correction and technical film kind of stuff. I saw a rough cut at 2:00 and loved it. I reminded him to temper his technical perfectionism and get the film turned in early — no last-minute run for the doors at 7:00.
He did turn the film in with time to spare. Robin has seen it and really liked it. Bill went off with a couple of other directors for a mini-showing at someone’s house and got great feedback and lots of laughs. I can’t wait to show it to you... but it will have to wait until after our screening at the AFI Silver Theatre, Friday at 7:00 p.m.
The 48 Hour Film Project takes place in cities all over the country, so if you’re interested you might check the upcoming dates. While we work with a set team, many other groups need to fill positions in the weeks and days leading up to the competition. On the website, you can indicate your interest in joining a team, and there are often meet-and-greet events to help fill positions. It can be exhausting, but it’s a blast.
— Pam W. Coughlan