We got some great news the other night – our film, Autumn Leaves, won Best Film at the 2 Short Nights film festival, in the 48 hour category!
It was a genuine surprise to have won. We went into it with the intention to win, but we really had no idea what the competition was like and were fully aware that the finished product was not graded, had a tonne of continuity issues, was missing a lot of fairly important shots that helped the story make sense (we were forced to lose the ‘less important’ shots as we neared the deadline), and that a lot of other things about it were generally very scrappy – so it truly was a very, very welcome surprise. Everyone worked their arses off over the weekend and all things considered, it’s a piece of work everyone involved should be thoroughly proud of. Unfortunately only one of our team could make it down to the festival for the screening, but at least there was one of us present to accept the award! Pete did a sterling job on the stills of the weekend. I’ve included some of them in this post, and the rest you can take a look through on his website.
Rather than run through details about the shoot and bore you all, here are some quick, punchy little things that made the weekend so chaotic, funny, productive and brilliant in equal measure. Stills and anecdotes after the jump.
-We didn’t start shooting until around 1pm on Saturday because we spent so long deciding on story and writing shot lists - 13 hours into the competition
-We wrapped shooting at 3.45pm on Sunday – 2 hours before the final deadline.
-Overall, 5 different trees were included in the finished film to get the various shots we needed of the single tree for the story.
-Ross, the lead male, originally came on the production as runner. He briefly became 1st assistant director when ours dropped out 3 hours before the competition began, before finally filling the role of ‘Boy’ in the film. Great effort.
-We had a system whereby as soon as we had a good take of a single shot, Ruby (my camera assistant) would run the card down to Ozgur (editor) to cut as we shot. He was so fast that when we went to swap cards, he would have that edit ready to show us. It meant we could shoot pickups within ten minutes if we had screwed up on anything.
-I got 3 hours sleep on Friday night and 3 hours sleep on Saturday night. I was working all day friday before we drove to Exeter, so ultimately got 6 hours sleep in 60 hours of being awake. I estimate that at least 30 minutes of those 6 hours were spent sleep talking about filming. Aside from the sleep talking, Ali, the director and most everyone else got the same amount of sleep. We were tired.
-Our actress, Lucy, did all of her own makeup. Each different makeup setup was put on within 2 minutes. We used vaseline and water for the sweat.
-We squeezed one special effects shot into the film – those leaves that blow in through the window? Not real wind, baby. Oh yeah, leaf stunts!
-Everything was shot in, or directly outside of the B&B that we were staying in. We requested permission to shoot in our rooms when we booked them and they were wonderfully hospitable throughout.
-The single line of dialogue we had to include was recorded in one take. The wording was thoroughly hated by all.
-The thought of pizza is enough to send a sleep deprived, delirious crew into a truly hysterical, dancing state. Upon arrival of said pizza, total silence ensues.
-We lit the night shots of Ross in front of and climbing the tree with one led light gaffered to the end of a swimming pool cleaning pole, held by our director, Ali.
-We didn’t have one single argument or falling out over the whole weekend. Sure, we had minor disagreements. Iddy biddy creative ones only.
-We were still rendering the final film with 30 minutes to spare until the final deadline.
-We only realised we needed a production photo and a synopsis 15 minutes before the deadline.
-We were still writing the DVD with 10 minutes until the deadline. The scary bit was when we were counting it down as it was burning and thought 100% meant it was done, only to read the message on the laptop ‘layer 2 of disc being prepared’. In a word: anxiety.
-We literally ran and handed the finished DVD over with 4 minutes and 30 seconds to spare – just enough time that we could have watched the 4 minute 26 second long film that we just made.
-I believe everyone had a pretty bloody awful day trying to function at respective work places on Monday.
-We intend to up the ante and enter the London Sci-Fi 48 hour film competition this year.
It’s total madness, but I have a feeling we’re addicted!