Knowing that my body/mind does not function without sleep, we determined ahead of time that it wasn’t going to be a grind-fest, but rather a "well planned" weekend.
Friday evening, myself and my daughter went to the kickoff meeting and drew our genre assignment. We both had our fingers crossed that it would be horror or drama as that is where most of our team's interest lie, and thus we assumed were categories that we would be strong in. We went up to the podium and I had her draw the number (that way if it was a terrible genre I could defer the blame to her) and we pulled "Silent Film."
At first I had some trepidation about doing a silent film. How would we communicate a story without words? How would we go about filming it? Why did I waste my money renting a shotgun mic and a boom pole?
However, as time passed we grew more excited because silent film meant that we could pick basically any genre; we just had to do it without words.
The rest of day 1 was spent meeting with the the team to get a general overview of how the story would flow and planning out the next day. We broke around 9PM and I began writing up the script. The script was completed about 12:30 a.m. Saturday.
Little did we know Friday evening that drawing Silent Film was the best possible thing that could have happened to us! Due to some various schedule conflicts and other unforeseen circumstances we were left with no babysitting for the day. That meant that we had to bring our 7-year -old son along, and our 4-month-old son. Plus, two of our crew also had their children so we had a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old in the mix!
The day started out slowly as half of our crew went out to purchase props and supplies while the other half set up equipment and babysat. It was 3 p.m. before we began shooting the first scene.
The limit of my experience was a failed independent film that I wrote and directed about six years ago. And in that film I had a crew that took care of the technical elements, so just getting everything to work was an adventure in and of itself. The rest of our team has absolutely no experience prior to this weekend. Despite all of this and a chorus of screaming kids in the background we managed to get everything filmed in about 7 and a half hours. There were multiple child meltdown breaks, and of course no one wanted to take a nap, though I may have drifted off a few times during the day.
We wrapped at about 11 p.m., and got all the little ones to sleep.
The third day was dedicated to editing. I looked at the amount of battery left in the camera and decided that there was enough to sustain it while the video imported, which was of course wrong. So after importing three-fourths of the footage, then charging the battery and getting the other quarter imported, we were ready to edit.
I have absolutely no editing experience, so the challenge of putting all the raw footage together was very exciting. It was also great to play back some of the takes and hear children screaming and dogs barking in the background, once again affirming that Silent Film was a fantastic genre draw. I did also notice a trend that for the first scenes we shot we had 3 or 4 different angles and multiple takes. By the end of filming though we were lucky if we had one take and maybe half of another take that was usable. Overall though we only missed shooting one angle in one scene and there were only a few times when we accidentally shot one of the lights or got the reflection of the camera in something.
Once editing was complete, I went through the task of exporting the video, and to a novice like myself it looked like there were about 800 different options to chose from when exporting. So there is about a 50/50 chance that our film will be in a playable format when it screens this week.
Even if our final film isn't screenable for some technical reason, it was still a successful weekend. Just completing a film in 48 hours was a remarkable task that I hope to have the pleasure of doing again next year.
-- David Dozer, Producer for team 3:33 AM Productions