The 48 Film Project is an international competition that tasks filmmakers with completing a 4-7 minute film within a 48 Hour timeframe. It is the creative equivalent of competing in a triathlon, only you have to make sure all your team members make it to the finish line with you at the same time. Pittsburgh, PA is home to a well produced, Kahmeela Adams is the current producer, segment of the 48 Hour Film Project that has grown to include over 40 teams competing annually.
There are other paperwork and copyright requirements, which you can read about on their official site.
As soon as the clock starts ticking, you should be ready to start working. What you should do before it all starts is prepare by securing everything you might need for a successful film.
Answer the big questions
Who is on the writing team?
Keep it small to ensure you can move forward on a script idea quickly. Too many writers can lead to either a story that is too complex, or otherwise watered down. Stay focused on a story that will grab audience interest and keep them interested.
Also, do not have people milling around while the writers are putting together the script. Give people tasks such as gathering the necessary props, costumes, and other elements you may need to fit your genre and story as it develops. Otherwise, tell the rest of the team when and where they need to start filming, and let them get some sleep.
Where are we filming?
Secure indoor and outdoor locations that are flexible to several story ideas. Make sure that the locations are manageable for quiet audio recording conditions, and that you can use them for an extended period of time. If a location can double as a place to take meal breaks and/or give someone a place to catch some sleep, even better.
You will not know who you might need before you have your story on paper, but you will definitely need talent that fit certain criteria. Make sure you talent is available for the duration of the weekend of the competition. You may need to do a quick reshoot, or ADR a line of dialog. Someone who is only available for limited hours on one of the days may not be the best choice.
It also good to have someone who has acted in front of a camera before. Film/TV actors and actresses pay attention to how they deliver lines, complete actions, and what they are wearing as it all relates to continuity. As you will be in a time crunch, having continuity in your takes will save you time in the edit. There is nothing wrong with using non-film/TV talent, you may just have to train them to take note of these things on the spot.
Who is taking care of food and beverages?
People are probably tired of hearing about how important food is to cast and crew, but in this high pressure competition, you will need to be focused. This means not having a cranky, hungry team.
One thing to keep in mind is that the person(s) who help make sure there is sustenance for everyone does not have to be a media minded person. Think of your friend or relative that says how much they would like to help you out, but they do not know anything about film. Recruit them to feed the masses and thank them endlessly for their role in making the weekend go smoothly
Staying Positive Despite Problems and Setbacks
If you are in any sort of leadership role, you will need to devote equal amounts of time to keeping up the momentum and the peace. Pay attention to your crew and talent and make sure they are staying hydrated. Laugh at the random passerby that photobombs your otherwise perfectly executed handheld shot. Give people kudos as you notice them putting in that extra effort to make a scene shine.
Above all else, remember that you are part of a team, everyone is important, and that you all need to reach the finish line together.
The Finish Line
Below is our project Heels on Wheels that took home the Runner Up for Best Film during the 2014 competition. I am especially proud of this project as we completed various stages of production faster than any year I have previously competed. I am also proud to have served as the Director of Photography, as they announced we also won the Best Cinematography award.