Monday, June 20, 2011
Cast, crew pushed to limit in 48 Hour Film Project in Jacksonville
They're pleased, but they see their work isn't done. The sound portion of the climactic scene has screams, but the musical score that ran through the rest of the film has gone silent. That needs to be fixed, plus some other editing changes.
It's 6 p.m. Sunday.
There are 90 minutes to finish the film and deliver it at The Jacksonville Landing. Forty-two teams started the competition on Friday night. Not all of them will make it by the deadline.
For Paul Melian, leader of Somebody Call an Ambulance Productions, the ticking timeline and teamwork are what's drawn him to the 48 Hour Film Project for a return engagement for the fifth year in a row. His team has about 25 members, most of them friends going back to the drama club when they were at Wolfson High School.
"It's as close as you can get to live theater while working in film," Melian said.
The competition started with teams drawing their assignments. Each team drew a genre for its film, and was given a character, a prop and a line of dialogue that had to be included. For Melian's team, that meant doing a horror film that has a kite in it and the line "From now on, you call the shots."
Beyond that, they could do anything they wanted, provided the movie's running time was under seven minutes and it was delivered to The Landing by 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
"There's a whole lot of pressure because there's not much time for reshooting," script supervisor Ralin Trosclair said.
As the deadline draws closer Sunday, the performance part is in the can. It's all about editing the film, a task done in a home's dining room where tables of computers line the walls. A handful of people huddle around the computers. Most of the production team is in other parts of the house, waiting and talking until a shout booms from the dining room: "Everybody shut up!"
There are 70 minutes to go.
Last year, Somebody Call an Ambulance Productions went down to the wire and entered its film with 10 minutes to spare.
Melian jokes that some year he will rent a jet ski and dock it on the St. Johns River so he can race across the river to submit the film.
With 40 minutes on the clock, a group leaves for the drive to The Landing, carrying a copy of the film. This is the "fallback film," the one that everyone saw previously. It's not the one the team really wants to show at the film festival, but at least they will have an official entry.
The other version is still running through a computer program for final processing. There's nothing to do but wait and wait for the computer to do its thing. Finally, the program is done and they can make a quick check of the finished product. Yes, the music is in that final scene. Everyone hurries to gather what's needed amid calls that "We leave in 30 seconds."
With 23 minutes to go, Melian runs out of the house and jumps into a compact car crammed with five people.
They are off for the drive from the Southside to the Landing.
With eight minutes to go, Melian's group hands in its film, titled "The Absent."
Others keep arriving, running in full sprint through the courtyard. The final arrival appears in a burst of speed with 30 seconds to go. The 48 Hour Film Project organizers lead a 10-second countdown to the deadline.
Thirty-four of the 42 entrants have made it in time.
Outside the Landing, a woman holding a copy of her team's film runs down the sidewalk, her breath heaving. But it's too late to be an official entrant and compete for awards.
Still, even the late entries will be able to get their moment on the big screen. Their films will be shown with all the others this week at the Florida Theatre on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights.
The screenings start at 6:30 each night. Admission is $15 per night, or $35 for a package ticket to all three nights. Audience members vote on their favorites. A screening of the best films and award presentation will be at 6:30 p.m. July 9. Tickets cost $10 for the event and can be purchased at the Florida Theatre box office or Ticketmaster.