Surviving the Richmond 48 Hour Film Project 2015

Hi, I'm LauraBess! Welcome to Metro's blog. It's nice to have you here. I'm our sales & marketing coordinator, so I get to do fun things like write this blog and manage our social media accounts. This past weekend, I was offered the opportunity to participate in Richmond's 48 Hour Film Project (a competition in which teams are given a genre, character, prop, and line of dialogue that must be used in a film that's written, shot, edited, and scored within 48 hours), I immediately said yes. Although I don't function well on little sleep and my experience with the film industry is limited to making a smattering of painfully amateur iMovies in high school, I was beyond excited to be included in this experience.

I was part of Pixel Drop, a team composed of Metro Productions employees and various freelancers and volunteers. Metro was generous enough to give us permission to use its facility and equipment to complete the project.

 

 “Working alongside such talented people on this wild and crazy concept was a blast.  Our powerhouse team was made up of Metro employees, some familiar freelancers, and a bunch of new faces and talent.  I couldn’t be happier with how everyone came together to pull the film off in such a short period of time.  Everyone made their mark on a finished product that I am very proud of!”  -Director Richie Ellison    
 

FRIDAY

7:30 p.m. We receive our assignment: holiday film. Pixel Drop gathers in Metro's conference room to brainstorm. We spend forty-five minutes discussing plots that revolve around Christmas (with a few halfhearted attempts to let Election Day have its chance to shine). Then, Ryan Farriss (writer, editor) goes, "Hey, guys! What about a story revolving around an April Fools' Day serial prankster?" Everyone immediately forgets about Christmas and enthusiastically accepts Ryan's idea.

                                              Pixel Drop members during the brainstorming session.

                                              Pixel Drop members during the brainstorming session.

9:00 p.m. The writing team prepares to formulate a script while Deven Langston (graphic artist, still photographer) tackles the Pixel Drop logo and opening credits. We hope to be done by 11:30-ish (haha, we were such fools).

                                                             Part of Deven Langston's intro graphic.

                                                             Part of Deven Langston's intro graphic.

10:30 p.m. We're still bouncing around ideas for dialogue. My stomach hurts from laughing so hard. I want to hug everyone in the room because they're all so funny.

11:00 p.m. Actual writing begins to flow. Ryan types up a storm on his laptop while everyone shouts out ideas. To sum up our script: Pranks, hilarity, more pranks, more hilarity.

    Tricia Dewey (producer) and Lauren Whitley (assistant director, casting director) during the writing session.

    Tricia Dewey (producer) and Lauren Whitley (assistant director, casting director) during the writing session.

11:40 p.m. In order to make our main character a believable prankster, we need lots of good quality practical jokes. We reminisce about the best April Fool's Day pranks that have been pulled in the Metro office and, of course, use the Internet as inspiration.

12:00 a.m. I wimp out and take a nap on the couch in the green room while the writing team continues to research pranks and add to the script.

1:15 a.m. I wimp out further by going home to sleep for real. I'm no champ.

 

"The 48 is an amazing opportunity to challenge ourselves creatively, while having a little friendly competition with our fellow Richmond-area filmmakers.  It never fails to push us outside our comfort zone and it's always such a fun way to spend time with coworkers and new talent." -Producer Tricia Dewey

 

SATURDAY

9:00 a.m. The Metro office is full of crew members prepping for the shoot. Last minute script revisions are printed out for the three main actors to look over before filming commences.  I'm sent to the store to pick up props.

                                                                 Richie Ellison (director) on set.

                                                                 Richie Ellison (director) on set.

9:45 a.m. The cashier at Target gives me a weird look. What, you've never seen a girl buying 12 boxes of lime Jello and two whoopee cushions before?

11:00 a.m. I have now submerged two staplers into bowls of Jell-O, made three fake sticks of gum out of Play-Doh, and drenched six cotton balls in melted chocolate. I've also watched someone transform two loaves of bread into "loafers" that fit on an actor's feet like Cinderella's glass slipper.

11:30 a.m. I join Tricia (producer) and Mike Clinger (script supervisor, graphic artist) in the conference room to watch the shots through a monitor. Richie (director) and Lauren Whitley (assistant director, writer, casting director) give guidance to the actors and work with the crew to get the best shots.  

                                                               Mike Clinger and Tricia Dewey.

                                                               Mike Clinger and Tricia Dewey.

12 p.m. Alee Caldwell, one of our editors, comes in early to ingest footage so Deven can start tackling the fundamental graphic.

1 p.m. The rest of the actors arrive. There's about 20 of them all stuffed into the green room.

3 p.m. I wimp out again and take a nap.

4:30 p.m. I overhear an actor ask, "Wait...is someone playing the ukulele?" The answer is yes. Yes, for some unknown reason, a ukulele was brought into Metro and is now being played in the green room.

                                                                    Filming the intro scene.

                                                                    Filming the intro scene.

5 p.m. I attempt to drain all the blood from a thawed turkey. I am now one step closer to becoming a vegetarian.

5:30 p.m. In an effort to wrap shooting before daylight ends, and with the dialogue-heavy scenes already filmed, the crew splits into two units to film the long list of pranks. Richie and Ryan Bedall (director of photography) handle one crew while Lauren directs the second camera, run by Mike Karmolinski.

                                                   Actors Travis Williams and Rebekah Spence on set.

                                                   Actors Travis Williams and Rebekah Spence on set.

6:15 p.m. I go home before the shoot wraps. I'm weak, I know. It wasn't because I'm not a team player, however. I was just still in the process of recovering from a particularly intense bout of food poisoning. Need I say more?

8 p.m. The shoot successfully wraps. Our editors (Ryan, Cameron, and Alee), as well as Deven, work diligently through the night.

                                                               The crew goofs off after wrapping.

                                                               The crew goofs off after wrapping.


SUNDAY

4:30 p.m. I arrive at Metro's office, where the graphic artists, editors, and audio technician are STILL hard at work. Richie, Tricia, and Lauren are also here to make sure everything goes smoothly.

                                                    Richie Ellison hangs out in the editing suite.

                                                    Richie Ellison hangs out in the editing suite.

5 p.m. Deven and Mike perfect the graphics while Alee and Cameron fine tune the edits. This is the part of the process that I understand the least, but just watching amazing people collaborate to do amazing things is magical. 

                                              Deven Langston and Mike Clinger work on graphics.

                                              Deven Langston and Mike Clinger work on graphics.

7 p.m. Thanks to the hard work of many dedicated people, the film is complete and ready to be dropped off at the Camel (all teams must deliver the film by 7:30, otherwise they'll be disqualified). Thankfully, since we finished with a little bit of time to spare, we don't have to get all Fast and Furious en route to the Camel. Safety first, after all.

                  Richie Ellison, Cameron Culbertson, and Alee Caldwell high five after completing the film.

                  Richie Ellison, Cameron Culbertson, and Alee Caldwell high five after completing the film.

7:15 p.m.  We arrive at the Camel, project in hand, and are greeted with claps and cheers from the 48 Hour representatives. We stick around for a bit and applaud each team that submits on time.


Time to get cheesy: I am so honored to have been part of such an incredible experience. Our film, Fool Me Twice, was the result of hours of hard work from an incredibly talented group of people. Thanks to everyone who made up the Pixel Drop team, and a huge thanks to Metro Productions for allowing us to use their facilities and equipment!