Ready? Set? Film!
UNC Asheville’s team wins Best 48 Hour Film, three other awards
(July 12, 2013)
With just a weekend to conceive and script a great story, assemble actors, costumes, and props in visually-appealing locations, shoot the scenes (and re-shoot them, and re-shoot them again), load all that footage into a computer and edit it into a polished, finished film, the 48 Hour Film Project isn’t just a challenge, it’s a combination adventure and mini-marathon.
It’s a race that takes creativity, technical know-how and the endurance to pull all-nighters. Mass Communication Lecturer Anne Slatton has found a winning formula, able to produce strong imaginative work under pressure, with smiles intact. Her team has now gained Best Film honors for the second time in three years, and in this year's Asheville 48 Hour Film competition, also won awards for Best Ensemble, Best Costume and Best Actress.“It’s having a team that works together,” she said, “and has a good attitude. We’ve always had that."
In 2007 Slatton formed Team UNCA—a loosely affiliated group of students, alumni, and friends of the university. Nearly every year since, Slatton and a few other core members have reunited for the 48 Hour Film Project, adding new teammates while others moved on. Here’s how the weekend played out:
7 p.m. Friday, June 21 - All teams received their assignments—each team was given its own genre, such as comedy, sci-fi, or even operetta, but had to incorporate a common character, prop and line of dialogue. This year, all films featured a wallet, a dentist named Dr. Moroney, and the line, “I don’t trust her.” This rewards screenwriters able to come up with a story on the spot, rather than awkwardly inserting the mandatory components into an existing script
7:01 p.m. Friday-4 a.m. Saturday - It took until the wee hours for Slatton and the writing team to settle upon and script a story using the prompts. Under such pressure, it’s tempting to run with the first idea that’s formed, Slatton said. “The challenge in that phase is not just going with your gut,” she explained, “but allowing yourself to think of something else. And it’s always better because of that.”
4-7 a.m. Saturday - While some grabbed a few hours sleep, others began gathering props and coordinating schedules and locations for Saturday’s shoot.
7 a.m.-7p.m. Saturday - Yes, it can take 12 hours to shoot a seven-minute film—actors have to get their lines and movements just right, camera operators have to catch the shot from a good angle (and then another, and another). It is a situation ripe for bloopers, some hysterical, some not so funny – with not just forgotten lines, but equipment malfunctions, and even rotten weather to contend with.
Locations have included downtown bars, neighborhood homes, the banks of the French Broad River, and this year, the shoot took place all over campus, with the Health and Wellness Department’s BOD POD making its cinematic debut.
UNC Asheville film students and alumni of all skill levels participated in the shoot. Even amidst the craziness of working under such a tight deadline, Slatton works hard to make sure the experience is fun and educational for everyone on the team.
“Everyone was willing to do anything and everything that was asked,” said Amanda Albee ’11, who served as the team’s producer. She started participating in the project when she was a student, and now works with Bonesteel Films in Asheville.
“If you’re doing camera you might also be picking up lunch,” Albee said, adding that this year the entire crew willingly jumped in as extras at the last minute, wearing the most outrageous costumes they could find.
7p.m.-midnight Saturday - Footage is loaded onto the computer for editing. Yes, it takes that long.
12:00 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday - Editing takes even longer than filming; this is where all the hard work of the past day and half comes together. The editor—in this case, UNC Asheville alumna Kelly Doty ’09—sorts through all those hours of footage, and carefully splices and pieces it back together to create a smooth and seamless film. This is especially difficult when you’re running on little or no sleep. “We always aim to be done editing by 4 p.m., knowing it’s not really going to be that way,” Slatton said.
7:30 p.m. Sunday - Race to the finish! All films are due precisely at 7:30 p.m.; late films are disqualified. Often it comes down to those last few minutes. One year a crewmember on Team UNCA raced in on crutches to submit the finished film—just in the nick of time, but this year, no crutches were involved and there were even a few minutes to spare.
7:31 p.m. Sunday - Finally the team had time to exhale and enjoy the moment of satisfaction, and with Monday awaiting, try to get a night’s sleep once the adrenaline receded. “It’s about a sense of accomplishment,” Slatton explained. “You’re only giving up a weekend, and you’ll have a product to show for it. That’s what makes it fun.”
And that sense of accomplishment made seeing the film even more fun. When Team UNCA’s dark comedy, “The Audition” was first screened along with the other 48 Hour Films at Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company, it was obvious that the audience enjoyed it, but no section of the room laughed as heartily as the filmmakers themselves, who took full enjoyment in recalling the creation of the film’s madcap moments.
If you’d like to see a wallet, a corpse and a BOD POD used as they’ve never been used before, you can watch the dark comedy, “The Audition” here:
*Homepage photo by Jasmine George.