What I learned from competing in the 2016 MKE 48 hour film project

This last weekend I competed in the 48 hour film Project for MKE. I was originally not intending to participate at all, because in the past it left me very frustrated and totally burnt out, however I had a talented friend approach me and we decided to give it a go with almost zero notice to assemble a team. Theres some things I learned from this years competition:

In the past I tended to work with a lot of novices or people who were looking to gain experience, which neither is bad at all in a competition like this, however it was always too many people trying to participate, and a few people spread far to thin.

It was tough- We scripted, screenplayed, and shotlisted the first night. We filmed in the middle of nowhere on a hot road for almost 10 hours in 100 degree heat. We boomed and recorded ambient tone and rough cut the first day. Pick up shot and finesse- color, music, make slight alterations balance things etc all the second day with exports by 5pm. We made last minute changes and export and drop off with almost a half hour to spare.

For as challenging as the process was- it was the smoothest- easiest- most fun 48 hours I’ve ever taken part in. There’s still some small things I would have liked and tweaked, but for the end result and the time in which we did everything it was an enourmous success.

Some notes-

1. Having a small team was CRUCIAL. Everyone was busy almost at all times and everyone knew what they were doing. Everyone was skilled in the task they were doing. Played to people’s strengths.

2. Having a base of operations – my home- for all cast and crew and equipment was massively effective. No pickups or drop offs at different homes or locations- multiple editing stations and monitors for review. A place for props and scene dressing within grabbing distance made things way easier.

3. Craft services- having my home as base- I cooked a ton of food that kept us going the whole weekend. Having food and water and drinks (more than just simple snacks) without thinking about it or stopping was more important than people think

4. Baseline equipment- we had a LOT of gear- multiple drones, cameras, reflectors, mics, boom poles etc was great to make decisions on what would be most effective and when. It’s really easy to try and use everything but honestly less is more. We filmed mostly with 1 camera and most audio into the camera. Simple reflectors and diffusers, a good mic and tripod and a single drone was all we REALLY ended up using for filming.

Having powerful computers and knowing how to work with them to the full potential was excellent. We worked with both, PC and macOS devices and had little to no issue. 

5. File management- this tied into equipment but having a solid file management system was key. I was able to organize files and music and shots immediately to multiple drives to divy up tasks and everyone having the same files let us easily share and combine work without duplicates or missing items.

6. Flexibility-management.

Everyone was able to take on additional tasks while adhering to a schedule- by saying we only have 10 mins for a shot and we either get it or cut it was great. By making sure we had picture locked as soon as possible made review and chages easy and painless. Leaving offline placeholders was an excellent way to create a secondary pick up shot list. Having a crew member handle the paperwork and having someone handle the slates and graphics was also an excellent experience.

Over all it was a great experience. I additionally made notes what I feel could be improved upon in the future.

For next time:

I think we could have used 1-2 more people maximum.

Working in a compressed codec was tough for actual edit (studders) and I think recording to prores is the next step. Being able to review on a large monitor in the field will be another thing to add in the future.

having a runner and editing immediately while still shooting will make things easier too.

I was really tired most of today- but thanks everyone who made this an amazing weekend in a variety of ways.

I wish I could have gone to pridefest or celebrated with my family (found out about a party 3 days before the competition) or been able to spend more time with friends so I’m sorry I couldn’t make everything happen.

Thanks to Calen AlbertJeremiah Zeier John, Molly, Lissy, Mr Jackson Bradford, and The Lady for all your help and time.

Ill be posting the completed 48 hour video once it premiere at the festival June 22nd 2016.

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