Contributed by Gorica Zivak
Director Joe Carroll of Never On Time Productions consults with assistant directors B. Matthew Crecraft and Marcus Daschner on the set of "Anamnesis." Carroll's team has taken home three awards for best in genre from previous competetions in its hometown of Nashville, Tenn.
A “help wanted” ad for the 48 Hour Film Project might read: Seeking creative problem-solvers with strong teamwork skills. Must be able to work under significant deadline pressure.
Those who require sleep need not apply.
The project, now entering its fourth year at Maiden Alley Cinema in Paducah, challenges teams of filmmakers to make a seven-minute film over the course of one weekend. At the kickoff on Friday, each of Paducah’s 13 teams will be assigned a genre, ranging from horror to silent film. They will also receive details on the three elements required in every film: a character, a line of dialogue, and a prop.
“You can try to get some ideas in your head, but once you get the genre and prop and character and all that jazz, you can throw most of your preparation out the window,” said Cory Greene, team leader for SRT Films.
Then the fun — two straight days of developing, shooting, and editing a film — begins. Although it might sound nightmarish to some, this year’s teams say they’re up to the challenge. Some even welcome the experience of working under pressure.
“It’s exhilarating, and it’s helpful to know you have a deadline. It helps you plan a little bit,” said Joe Carroll, whose team, Never on Time Productions, has participated in the project three years in Nashville, Tenn.
Curt Stewart, team leader for Emerging Media Productions, added that the short amount of time forces participants to be more creative, resulting in a better end product. “You don’t have a choice but to work hard and work fast and be as creative as you can,” Stewart said.
Stewart added that the lack of time often forces teams to improvise. “Sometimes it (...) helps you creatively solve a problem that you wouldn’t be able to before,” Stewart said.
Some filmmakers have already found inventive ways to deal with the time constraints.
“We don’t use actors; we use puppets,” Greene said. “It gives us more time to edit, which is a godsend when you’re up against the clock. Most good films are made in the editing room, so having more time to edit is invaluable, really.”
Other teams stick with more traditional approaches, drawing on organization and strong group dynamics to complete the task. “I want to make sure that everyone who works together either has a personal relationship or has shown they have the ability to work in a team setting,” Carroll said.
While this kind of advance planning can be helpful, the filmmakers must also take Murphy’s law into account.
“We all know things can happen, and things have happened that we’ve never expected. That’s why it’s good to have a crew you can trust: you’re working with people who can jump over the obstacles,” Carroll said.
“A positive attitude is huge. When you’re working on so little sleep it’s easy to get frustrated and butt heads with everyone, but it’s important to keep a positive attitude,” Stewart said.
Although some teams are out for the prize — attending the competition at the national level — many participants approach the project as a learning experience.
“(The project) helps us hone our skills and be able to work faster, to edit faster and shoot faster. This is just the extreme of working on a deadline and as a team. That would benefit anybody in any field, and especially us, as a video production company.” Stewart said.
The 48 Hour Film Project has something to offer people who are new to the industry, as well.
“If you’re wanting to get into film, it’s a pretty great way to do that. It really makes you think on your feet more than you would be if you had a working script,” Greene said. “A lot of the time you end up overthinking things, and you don’t really have time to do that here. It’s a really good exercise for filmmakers.”
For information about the 48 Hour Film Project, an international event, visit 48hourfilm.com. To find out about the project in Paducah, go to maidenalleycinema.com.
Call Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8668.