Amazing fun doing the Sci-fi 48 hour Film Challenge
Happy Easter everyone, hope you all are having a lovely and relaxing time. So many of my friends and family are spending the day eating lots of chocolate but I am filming again this weekend. However my dad has been told he can leave hospital today as he had an operation on Thursday that went much better than expected so I am feeling very grateful for that 😉
I am writing this on set over Easter weekend, in a truly bonkers (but couture so I guess that makes it acceptable) all white outfit and full 1950s makeup & hair. I went out after filming and that make-up and hair was not easily coming off so I just changed and off I went to celebrate life! (Maria Beketova did the hair and makeup on set)
I did the Sci-Fi 48 hour film Challenge last weekend and had a blast as it is such a collaborative effort. Of course all filmmaking is but the sheer focus of set build, script writing, filming, editing, music and colour grading all to deliver a finished sub 5 minute film in 48 hours really means everyone has to pull their weight absolutely and get it right first time. There is no time for tantrums, second guessing or self doubt from anyone.
The idea is that all entrants get a line of dialogue and a prop they have to incorporate into the film and a theme, although Sci-Fi is obviously the main theme. I have always wanted to do this but knew I needed to work with a professional crew and cast who could deal with the insane time pressure and inevitable complications without cracking. I have done enough student films to know that some people get very rude under pressure or incompetent and quite frankly I didn’t need to deal with that when I had to be brilliant on my first take and also was doing effectively a free project. I was lucky as everyone was fantastic, calm and brilliant from fellow actors especially the lead Terry Grant, to make-up to the two camera crew.
I arrived Saturday on set at 3pm, we got the quickly written script at 6pm and started shooting at 7pm. We wrapped the shoot Sunday at about 7pm and I left knowing that the long overnight job of editing, music, and colour grading had to go on. Somehow the film got in in time at 1pm Monday and we have been promised an all singing, dancing 8 minute version as they had to cut a lot to make it a 4.45 minute version. I would worry I have been left languishing on the cutting room floor but as I was the one who said the all important dialogue line I figured that’d be in if nothing else!
It did clarify though that being left on the cutting room floor is just about the narrative through-line, the edit has to best fit the story as the director wants to tell it. It is not about you the actor but the storyline as the director and editor feel best to tell it.
It is interesting though this idea of logic and narrative as I also tried the first 8 minutes of my new solo show this week. (Yes I have been super-creative!) The director/workshop leader Colin Watkeys who runs the Solo Theatre Festival kept focusing on our need to realise what our chosen narrative is and that thus we may have to personally cut favourite lines or characters if they don’t sit in with the logic of our show.
I know from all the previous solo work I have done that the critics often focus on this through-line (previous blog post here) but it is a lesson always worth reminding myself of as I now take the next steps in developing this solo show idea.
Yes I got to die again on set, be warned anytime an art director comes towards you with large plastic wrap and a gleam in his eyes you should run! Apparently I had fulfilled one of Ollie’s fantasies by allowing him to wrap me in plastic, yes that is sadly a direct quote! That death make-up is super greasy and still is clinging to my ear lobes.
I also got to wear the ugliest shoes ever, I had dashed to Primark to pick up some round neck wooly jumpers as they wanted a French resistance meets Bonnie & Clyde look and saw these truly terrible shoes. I walked last them twice but had that feeling. Ollie fell in love with them immediately (and probably their £10 price tag), scuffed them up and off we went. You can see them in the shots.
Last year, 2013, there were about 180 films submitted, apparently this time over 500 people registered to enter. The top 20 shorts I believe get shown to the final judging panel on which Danny Boyle sits but I also had so much joy making it. It is also the first alien I have played on screen 😉
The amazing crew of our weekend sci-Fi film … you can see Dominic in the main photo with me.
Dominic Coddington Director
Ben Forder Producer/Director of Photography/ Music
Sonja Linnanvuo Camera Operator / Colour Grading
Oliver Hawkins Screenplay / Art Director
Tomas Velasco Editor / Visual Effects
Heather Owen Principal Makeup / Hair
Karen Ward Makeup Assistant / Continuity