by Heather Pilder Olson
How long does it take to make a short film? That depends. If you’re in the 48 Hour Film Contest, you have just two days to write, shoot, edit, and submit your movie.
Our team, Speetzfire, was convened by executive producer Kevin Owyang, whom I met at a recent Crash Cinema event at SIFF. Kevin got the ball rolling and had worked previously with our director, Andy Tribolini, also an actor, writer, and TheFilmSchool alum, and our DP, Matthew Bane, on other projects. Andy recruited the awesome actors Danita Bayer, Scott C. Brown, Janeanne Wilder, and Henry Mark, and the stellar ADs Amy Sedgwick, also an alum of TheFilmSchool, and Becki Chandler, who worked with Janet Berkow to scout out our excellent locations ahead of time.
Here’s how the contest works: two of the team members attend a meeting Friday evening and draw a genre. Every team has to work within their genre using an assigned prop, line of dialogue, and character name. Our genre was thriller/suspense, the prop was cheese, the line was, “There must be something in your ear,” and the character was Gina or Gino Asplund, a barista. So we were off and running with a group meeting Friday night where all cast and crew were invited to brainstorm ideas. Andy was the primary writer, and he, Kevin and I started working that night to come up with a script. I was running on too little sleep already, so I faded out around midnight. Kevin stayed another couple of hours, and Andy wrote into the wee hours of the morning and sent out the script to all of us.
I woke up at 6a.m. Saturday and read the script, which was then called HELL IS EMPTY. I liked it, I was excited, and I had to pull together breakfast to take to the set to feed the cast and crew. I showed up right on time at the location that we had been sent, only to discover we were sent the wrong address! Fortunately the real location was just a few blocks away, so we packed up all the food and took it to a park on the shores of Lake Union. My husband Clint helped me set up, and saved the day by getting coffee for everyone. He also helped load and unload the camera gear and lights. Our first shots went well, and we moved on to our next location at Serafina, a lovely Italian restaurant nearby. We had permission to shoot there from 10a.m. to 3p.m. and we were able to (just barely) get all of our shots in. Andy was setting up shots near the bar while Amy was working with actors for the next shot in another part of the restaurant, and two other DPs shot different scenes simultaneously. Another crew member Damian Stonebreaker was busy making fake blood, while Janet and Becki prepared a pig’s heart for a scene. One of our actors, Scott, took bites of the raw heart. This is dedication to the craft. Do not try this at home. I took script notes, did the slate, held lights, moved gear, took pictures, and ordered lunch. Brian Nunes, our editor, was working the entire time to start to cut the film together.
We then moved to an apartment nearby for the last part of the shoot. A friend of Becki’s graciously loaned us the use of her place from 4p.m. to 11p.m. We broke out the wine around 9p.m. and that helped things go smoothly. Kevin brought in more snacks and we refueled with carrots, celery, chips, and beef jerky. Brian kept editing as soon as he got new footage, and he, Andy, Kevin and Matt agreed to meet the next morning to finish the edit. Amy Enser was incredibly helpful with the final edit on Sunday, we got to use the great music of Catherine Grealish, and the film was turned in 15 minutes before the deadline on Sunday evening.
Our film was retitled CONVICTED, and we got to see it on the big screen at the Uptown Theater on July 16. It was a ton of fun to see the other films that had been made, and it’s always quite a thrill to see your name in the credits. While we didn’t win any awards, we have received a lot of positive feedback on our film, and we all learned a lot in the process. We’re ready to do it again next year!
The entire process was well organized, fun, intense, and we made a great short film. Watch CONVICTED, enjoy, and make your own 48 hour film. If you dare.