I love timed film festivals. 48, 54, 24 – whatever. I think attempting to make a quality short film in a compressed time frame is a unique challenge, and one that any filmmaker can learn a lot from.
My first experience with a timed film competition was the 48 Hour Film Festival in 2008 or 2009. I was in a team with a group of filmmakers from Nashville, TN and I was their editor. This first experience was rather relaxed as far as most 48 hour festivals go. I edited all day Saturday while the team shot and finished up the edit on Sunday morning. It was in the can and delivered with time to spare.
When the 48 hour came to Nashville in the fall of 2016, I realized that it was the first time in years that I would be available for the competition. I called around to all my friends and we put together a team. However, as these things often go, a few key members had to drop out before the weekend actually rolled around, leaving me with a smaller crew than I had hoped for – especially in the G&E department.
The end result was a film “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” – a campy horror/buddy film with a few jump scares and a memorable last scene. The link can be found here, although I spent more time directing than DP’ing and thus the work is not at “pretty” as what I had hoped for. We still managed to snag 6 nominations, mainly due to the expert editing of Wes Powers, and a delicious best use of prop. We wound up winning best in genre, best use of prop, and best editing.
That brings me around to “Wishful Thinking,” a brilliant little short film cooked up by Ted Welch, Joey von Haegar, and Wes Powers after drawing “Time Travel” as a category. The film centers around a loser (played by Ted) who wishes he could fix various mistakes in his life. Josh Innocalla plays the ridiculous reverse-time-travel genie who grants him three wishes. I think the film turned out great. Again, we were initially marred by losing a few key crew members, but the strength of the production team and more specifically my camera team (the exceptional Tiffany Murray, and Scotty Wright) – made up for it.
We started the day with the outdoor scenes – as we set up, we had a wonderful soft light from scattered clouds. We set up a 1200W HMI to add an edge light and a Kino Diva for additional fill – along with a 4×4 section of silver fill to match between takes. We also flew a 4×4 floppy to create negative fill where possible. I think the end result was a very pleasing scene.
Next we moved on to the final scene of the movie. A 575W HMI Fresnel was used to create the venetian pattern on the wall.
We moved from there into the living room to shoot the scene where Ted meets Genie and where Ted watches TV and memorizes romantic lines. We kept these simple (a kino diva and 650W Fresnel, respectively) to make our next location – the coffee shop. Fun fact: the TV gag light was made with 2 PA’s flashing battery powered 300W LED lights around his face!
The main crew ended our day at the coffee shop, and again, we were fighting the light. We knew we only had a minimal amount of time to get what we needed (and a limited amount of power), so a Kino Diva and our 575W HMI fit the bill again. In the wides, the 575W HMI was used bounced into the ceiling to bring up exposure, while it played behind Ted on the back wall to give definition in the close-ups. The kino swept up everything else.
The last shot of the day was the green-screen dancing shot with the Genie.
Overall, the “Wishful Thinking” shoot was incredibly enjoyable. It was a fun script, a great crew, and a talented cast that came together to make a fun short film that stands alone, even outside of the realm of the 54.