SFL 48 Hour Film Challenge 2011!

20.49 Wednesday

Ok, I lied – one more blog update. It’s worth it, though, because it’s in order to show you the finished film:

I’ll be blogging in new blog posts from now on. 😉

20.55 Tuesday

This final blog update comes to you from outside the 48 hour period of the challenge, due to my brain only recently coming fully back online. I’m happy to report that we completed the film on time with time to spare and had submitted it by about 7am on Monday.

Having now had some time away from it and a chance to watch it a couple of times I’m actually rather thrilled with what we’ve put together. It has its technical flaws in places, as it almost inevitable when working on such a crazy schedule, but overall it’s an achievement of which I’m hugely proud.

The film isn’t online for public viewing yet as we want the cast and crew to have the first look and are trying to organise a little screening. This will hopefully take place Wednesday evening, after which I’ll sling it online for all to see.

I really hope that the cast and crew like the film as much as I do, because they all worked insanely hard and really gave it their all.

As with every project we learned a huge amount. The pre-production and production phases of the weekend went flawlessly, keeping exactly on schedule and hitting a quality considerably higher than last year’s attempt. It was the editing that went awry, not in terms of quality but in terms of scheduling.  I hugely grateful to Ryan Stone, our editor from Lambda Films, for sticking with us all the way through and not moaning even once.

I’ll hopefully have more analysis/breakdown of the film on the blog once it’s been released publicly.

Thanks to everybody who kept an eye on our blog and Twitter feed during the challenge!

03.54 Monday

We’re still here.

Not exactly what we had in mind.

Unfortunately a mixture of technical hold-ups and a more complex editing process (partly caused due to not getting some of our production workflow sorted – I’ll blog more about that and how to avoid it later) we’re still putting the film together.

However, we’re looking good. The edit is complete, the sound edit is almost finished and the grade is halfway done. It’s me, Chris and Ryan holed up in the Lambda offices, Ryan grading in AE while me and Chris feel slightly guilty for getting him into this in the first place. He appears to be fuelled by some kind of unknown energy source, something we must try to remember to investigate once we’ve recovered from the weekend. It could be useful in the future.

We’re probably another hour or two from completion, so we’re actually looking like we’ll come in around the same time as we did last year. Our production schedule was perfect this year, going exactly to plan. We’ve learnt a lot about the post-production workflow for future projects.

I suspect due to be sleep-deprived, slightly mushy brain I may be rambling, so it’s probably wise for me to finish up the blogging for now until we’re on the flipside later today.

Home stretch, now.

19.00 Sunday

The edit is is progressing, albeit with the usual technical hiccups along the way. Adobe products have an odd algorithm which increases their instability based on the proximity of your deadlines.

Regardless, we have an awesome matte painting composited and in place by Nigel Potter, some CG shots will be coming in soon and the edit so far is looking supremely tasty. Still lots of work to do, but Ryan and Tom are doing a superb job and we’re massively ahead of schedule compared to last year.

Right, time to carry on.

11.38 Sunday

IT’S A WRAP!

We wrapped at half ten this morning, having started our second phase of shooting at 7.30. Normally I tend to get up for work at about 7am, but it becomes considerably more difficult after a full day’s prepping and shooting and a previous wrap of 1.30am.

The pieces we had to get this morning were considerably simpler but all exteriors, which adds in its own complications. Contrasted to yesterday’s unseasonably summery temperatures, this morning it was freezing and not entirely pleasant for cast or crew.

Finally the last sequence involved our ‘hatch’, a special prop built into the ground. It was another amazing achievement by our stunning art department, who have really outdone themselves this weekend. The stuff they’ve put together for us would be impressive even on a normal scheduled film.

We’re now attempting to log all our footage, of which there is a huge amount (the drawback of a 3-camera shoot…), a process already started by our editor Ryan (of Lambda Films fame). It’s looking good so far and we’re all pleased with the work we’ve done, although the edit will be the final test.

22.30 Saturday

Taking a quick break to backup footage, reset and give the actors some time to rehearse the next portion of the script.

So far….it’s looking fantastic. We’ve managed to do far more interesting things with the lighting and camera setups than last year, in part thanks to the great support from Lambda Films, Fast Forward Media and FXhome – we seem to have equipment coming out of our ears.

The general setup: EX1 shoulder mounted camera, glidetracked 60D, static tripod 550D for wide emergency coverage. Nature of the script lets us play through the whole scene in one setup, then reset and adjust for take 2. As such we’re making pretty fast progress.

Meanwhile, Ryan over at Lambda is already editing the footage and we have a (super) rough of part of the opening. With the quick grade he’s done, it’s looking schuuuuu-weeeeet.

We’ll be shooting for a good few hours more, but it shouldn’t be anything like as antisocial as last year, when we were going all the way through to dawn.

This year, however, we have to be BACK for dawn to shoot the opening sequence. Hopefully we’ll have some good weather and a nice sunrise. The sunset this evening was absolutely stunning, so hopefully it’ll match that.

Right, time to go back to set. Hope everybody’s films are going well!

14.30 Saturday

And we’re away! Our brief is as follows:

Title: Temporary Status

Prop: A plain white cup with a broken handle, in the cup is some blue or purple liquid – we see a character put some powder( or granules) in it.

Dialogue: “In half an hour we won’t be able to see our hands in front of our faces in this.”

So, fairly specific again, but with much more flexibility than our bizarre brief last year. Still, compared to the briefs received by some other teams, we still had a challenge. 🙂

Where we are currently: full team brainstorming complete, concept defining complete, script first draft complete, art department running around  town buying and building, storyboards being drawn, VFX being designed and animated.

Next up: script final draft, actor and camera rehearsals, set and lighting.

So far…so good.

22.30 Friday

So, I’ll be adding new updates to this post over the weekend with new update appearing at the TOP, so you don’t have to keep scrolling down to find out what’s going on. 🙂

This year we’re about as prepped as we possibly can be, given the nature of the beast. It’s a 48 hour challenge and we only get the brief (title, prop, line of dialogue) right at the start, so the normal pre-production period is rather nerfed. You can’t prep locations, you can’t build props or sets, you can’t do rehearsals or cast according to a script – you don’t even have a script.

It’s definitely not the way to make a short film. However, it is a good way to have a lot of fun and have an intense-but-limited spot of filmmaking. After the epic post-production phase of Arms Race, I’m rather pleased to know that by the end of this weekend we’ll be done, one way or another.

My day starts at 9.30 tomorrow for some initial setup (stand-by green screen, ‘green room’ area etc), then most other people will be piling in at about 10.30 to await the arrival by SMS of the brief from the organisers down in London.

There’s another team with people from FXhome in, by the way. Dan will be blogging in a similar fashion (phone signal permitting) over here: http://danielgwood.com/blog/2011/04/live-blog-48-hour-film-challenge/

In the meantime, it’s time for some preparatory sleep. See you all tomorrow.

Midday, Friday

I’ll be blogging and tweeting throughout this weekend’s Sci-Fi-London 48 Hour Film Challenge, so keep refreshing this page to find out what’s going on. I’ll also be tweeting from my usual account @tarnimus.

Stay tuned! Everything kicks off around 10.30am Saturday morning.

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