Last weekend (for the 2nd year in a row) we at 522 Productions entered the 48 Hour Film Festival under our creative alter-ego… 3/4 Films. “Oh, how cute!” you might say. Sure. It’s cute… but it’s more baby grizzly bear cute. Lotta fun can be had… but it still has the potential to tear your face off.
For those of you unfamiliar with the 48 Hour Film Festival, teams have one weekend to make a film that incorporates a specific genre, character, prop, and line of dialogue. If you haven’t tried it before, 48 hours doesn’t provide a lot of time to write, produce, shoot and edit a film… especially when potential genre pit-falls like “Musical” and “Sci Fi” lurk at the bottom of the selection bag.
If you’re wondering, 105 teams entered from the DC area this year. With the average size of 15 people per team that’s… well, a lot of die-hard movie enthusiasts hoping their weekend-long efforts pay off for the potential recognition of their peers (no one enters for the actual prizes – I don’t even know what they are this year).
But I digress… On Friday night, our writing team received a phone call from from 3/4 Films’ 48 Hour Kick-Off Meeting Attendee (and team DP), Rob Reinders, who deftly pinched his ring finger and thumb around a tiny piece of paper marked “Film de Femme.” What’s Film de Femme? Basically a movie with a strong female character (think Juno). He then informed us about the rest of the required elements – the prop was a pencil; the character was Riley Tompkins – Teacher; and the line of dialogue was “I’m taking it one day at a time.”
After AT&T dropped our call with Rob, our writing team let out a sigh of relief for not getting Sci Fi. The writing team consisting of Jeff Thompson and Chris Jurchak and myself, then hammered out a script filled with hilarity, drama, intrigue, and just like last year – multiple murders.
But we learned a lot from last year. The most important lesson? Keep it simple (not the murders… the story). We used a simple concept. We wrote everything to take place in 2 locations – both filmed at the 522 Studio. We used minimal talent (who were all AWESOME). And we kept the script short. There’s a huge difference making a 4 1/2 minute movie vs. a 6 minute movie. Less to shoot. Less to edit. And a much more enjoyable viewing experience for your audience.
So, Saturday morning we arrived at the 522 studio in Old Town to film our pizza-and-caffeine-inspired mystery: a film about a young woman searching for her brother after he disappears attending a casting call. Keeping with the theme of the weekend, we kept the sets simple – a backdrop for our Casting Call scenes, and infinite black for our Detective Office.
The shoot went really well. Long… but really well. Our actors rocked out – leads Joe Hansard, Valerie Menzel and Marcus Dunn were all, as previously stated, amazing. Our crew was phenomenal – and many even did a great job playing the roles of the victims in the story. Everything looked and sounded great on set. We just hoped it would all work out in the Edit Room the next day.
So when Sunday morning rolled in, the Post-production team met to review the footage and smooth out the rough cut that lead-editor Phil Wolf had strung out the night before (after a full 14-hour day of shooting the previous day).
Luckily, everything still made sense… at least to us. We put our finishing touches on the film. Tweaked audio. Added music. And went through four rounds of failed exports before finally getting our finished version on DVD to deliver with just an hour to spare.
The results? Check out at https://www.522productions.com/casting-call to see for yourself!