by Spencer Moon
ATLANTA, GA (May 21, 2006)The 5th Atlanta
48 Hour Film Project Competition took place May 20-21, 2006 all
around the greater Atlanta area. For those few who didn't participate
in one of the 40 individual groups frantically filming around the
city, here's what it's all about.
You get 48 hours to write, shoot, and edit a film. You won't know
what the film is about until you pick your genre out of a hat at
the start of the 48 hours. You also have to include a specific prop
and line of dialog in your film, which you don't know about until
you pick your genre.
If you don't like the genre you pick, you can put it back and pick
a "wild card" genre. But beware! Those wildcard genres
are weird (as our 48-hour film subjects, Illustrated Films, found
out this year).
- 5 p.m. - My assignment was to follow the Illustrated Films
team as they made their 48-hour film. I arrived at the location
Friday evening as the handful of crew was finishing the load in
of equipment for the two days of production. I met the production
manager, script supervisor, the second assistant director, and the
director of photography. They were all in a positive frame of mind
and clearly excited about the contest. This is the second year that
Illustrated Films has participated in the 48 Hour Film Project.
Last year they produced Judgment, which has screened locally.
This year, Illustrated Films chose to shoot in a church in Grant
Park. It is being used by a small congregation as a temporary home.
The church sanctuary was big and spacious with stained glass windows
on two sides-with a few cracks in a huge stained glass rendering
of Christ on his knees in prayer looking to the heavens on the rear
The owner of the building was there to oversee and assist. After
some small talk with the crew, he commented about hearing noises
in certain areas of the building when he was alone. We all agreed
that the building had a very creepy feeling about it.
The Saturday crew call was for 5 o'clock. On Friday evening, the
crew needled me about what fun it would be for me to be there with
them at that hour for the sake of the story. I laughed, but as I
left I thought "Why do I need to be there at 5 a.m?"
SATURDAY - 3 a.m. - I awoke Saturday
morning without my alarm like I was going to work. I was wide awake
so I got up, put coffee on, and got in the shower. I made some breakfast,
had a big cup of coffee, and arrived on set at 5 a.m., much to the
amazement of the crew.
SATURDAY, 5 a.m. - The set was
a beehive of activity with people already bustling about. I met
the producer, Tracy Martin, and she was surprised to see me there
at that hour as well. She began to talk to various crew members
about a scene and its setup. She learned that the scene had been
changed and responded, "Boy, things sure change after 1:30
in the morning."
I walked around in a daze trying not to get in the way and watching
the flurry of activity. Eventually, Martin said to me, "Hey,
do you want to watch the director (Bret Wood) and assistant director
break down the script and prep today's shooting?" I hesitantly
followed her into an office where they were hard at work, setting
the day's shooting schedule. I sat there like a fly on the wall.
SATURDAY, 5:50 a.m. - They took
the five-page script and broke it into scenes using hand drawn storyboards
to diagram the shots and setups. Some dialogue was cut. Wood's comment
about the dialogue was, "You can go serious and add comedy,
you can't do comedy and then go back to being serious." The
crew began setting up the scene, moving lights into place and re-arranging
furniture. I wandered around to find more activity to observe. I
learned that shooting would start outside in the parking lot of
the church first.
Later, I got some time to chat with Martin about the process. "This
is the second year that Bret and I have done this together. Both
times we put back the genre we picked originally, and so we're doing
the wild card."
I asked, "Is that what you're doing now, the wild card genre?"
"Yes," Martin answered, "We're doing a martial arts
genre here in the church. My comment on the competition and the
genres is they've become too hyper-specific in the two years I've
been involved. The wild card genres this year got to be hyper-specific.
After we got martial arts, I told Bret that I don't think there's
anybody in our cast who can do a cartwheel. Last year we had a whole
stunt team. It's a tough one to pull off with our location, but
we're still working with the script."
SATURDAY - 9 a.m. - First scene
of the day begins shooting in the parking lot of the church. I see
the boom operator flat on his back in the parking lot with his legs
crossed and hands behind his head, looking up at the sky. His mike
is in the car out of camera range and he is just listening with
headphones in this very relaxed position.
NOON - Lunch, burgers cooked on
a grill with potato and pasta salad.
SATURDAY - 2 p.m. - The outdoor
and interior scenes in an office have been shot. Martin tells me
that "it's running smoother this year."
SATURDAY - 2:30 p.m. - I spot the
child actor asleep in an arm chair in the basement. He's been here
since 5 a.m. like everybody else.
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