Andrew McDowell
Motion Graphics Designer

Blog

Making a Film in 48 Hours

Sometimes I get an itch to be back amongst the organised chaos of a film production and to create something away from my computer for a change. So last weekend I took part in the 48 Hour Film Project: a competition where teams are given 48 hours to write, shoot, edit and submit a short film. Here's 4 things I learnt:


#1: Get Involved From The Start

The first few hours were some of my favourite of the whole weekend. The flurry of ideas being generated, fuelled by beer and pizza, was exciting to be apart off. The challenge of balancing our imaginations with practical considerations was tricky but whittling our ideas down and beginning to zero in on the one we thought was strongest was a creative rush.


#2: Maximise Shooting Time

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Our team drew 'Road Movie' as our genre, which was challenging as it meant most of ideas involved cars and multiple exterior locations. These two factors ended up slowing us down more than we anticipated. Our chosen location out in the You Yangs was very scenic but meant we spent an hour just getting out to the location, costing us valuable shooting time. Also costly was the time it took us to reset for each take, as we had to drive a car back into first position each time. Had we drawn a different genre, I think we'd have chosen to shoot in a single location that was indoors and close by.


#3: Take A Break

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Saturday was a grueling day. We'd been up late writing and planning, woke up early, spent the whole day shooting (often juggling multiple roles), and then at the end of it all I had to start editing. I was tired and feeling completely overwhelmed by the task ahead and began to worry that we wouldn't be able to finish. Fortunately Nick (the other editor) arrived and was able to take over and work through the night. When I arrived back the next day, Nick and David had turned what had seemed an insurmountable challenge to me into an engaging rough cut. Feeling refreshed I was able to jump back in with a clearer head and help get the project over the line in time.


#4: Keep a Check List

At 7:00 pm (30 minutes until the submission deadline) we hit export and anxiously watched the progress bar tick along. As soon as it was done two of the team grabbed the exported film and raced off to submit. 10 minutes later my phone rang. We'd forgotten the forms we needed to submit with the film! So I jumped in the car, raced off, and literally ran to the submission location. We made it by the skin of our teeth, joining the line to submit at 7:29 pm! To think that all our hard work could've been for nothing just because we didn't stop to check what we needed is pretty harrowing!


Update:

We got nominated for best cinematography and whilst we didn't win, after seeing the caliber of some of the submissions, I'm not too disappointed. I think our film stacked up well and we can all be proud of what we put together, but you can be the judge of that:

Andrew McDowell