48 Hour Film Contest

May 17, 2004

finished up the 48 hour film contest (http://www.48hourfilm.com/) this weekend.

derek directed, oren wrote, jefferson and ricky handled cameras, ricky did editing, i did sound recording and failed miserably at scoring.

here are things to remember for the next time-constrained movie project:


  • find locations first. a good location is difficult to find, and indoor locations have the added complexity of getting permission from the manager/owner/etc.
  • develop characters -- find a standard character attribute template and fill it out. what makes each character unique?


  • outline and write the story.

  • then write the dialog. stay true to your characters in the dialog.

  • with a short-term project, scoring should be began as early as possible. given the genre, music can be assembled/created after the story outline is created. since the music is a time-consuming component, the final edit should follow the score, rather than trying to score for the edit. />- revisit character attributes if changing them will help make the story and dialog stronger

  • cast the script

  • deliver character sheets and script to actors. inform them of your expectation that they will know all their lines on the shooting day. writer and director should talk with each actor about the character to get them "in the mood" for the part.

  • STORYBOARD -- this will take lots of creative burden away from the time when the scene is actually shot. since locations have been scouted and secured, digital photos may be used to create storyboards. creative lighting and camera positioning should be expressed in the storyboard. the storyboard will also verify the congruency of the story, and help immensely with shooting and editing.

  • techs -- familiarize yourselves with new equipment. do test shots/recordings to verify settings are correct. if something seems odd or wrong, it probably is defective or misconfigured.

  • sleep. everyone to bed each night by midnight, everyone back on task at 8am. if the planning/writing day is going long, stop and sleep.


  • shooting should be short and efficient. the location scouting and storyboarding should have enough information to have everyone be able to set up shots with minimal direction. actors should arrive with enough time to change into costume and be ready for acting when the equipment is set up.
  • ideally, retakes are kept to a minimum (usually depends on actor abillity of everything else is prepared well and correctly) to minimize editing burden.
  • sound should be recorded ideally with each person mic'd individually, with each mic recorded to its own mono audio track. this will minimize background noise, and allow for better audio fx/quality in the final edit.
  • scenes should be pulled into the computer after shooting is complete to facilitate editing on sunday


  • editing should be a breeze, given a good storyboard. assemble rough cut, add creative edits or cuts, add background audio and score tracks.
  • polish, review, print to tape possibly more ideas to come....