I really love the film that we came up with for this competition as a standalone piece, but it falls down as an entry in the 48 Hour Film Project. To explain why, I’ll need the help of a Jedi Master.
There’s a scene in The Empire Strikes Back where Luke Skywalker, our hero and Jedi-in-training is instructed by his master, Yoda, to go into a spooky cave for some reason. Luke reasonably asks, “What’s in the cave?” and Yoda sagely replies, “Only what you take with you.” Luke brings in a lot of rage, fear, and doubt, and ends up having a pretty miserable time of it. The idea is that if he had gone in without all of his baggage, he may have seen something a lot better than his own decapitated head in a Darth Vader outfit. Maybe even a rousing performance by the Max Rebo Band.
The 48 Hour Film Project is like that cave: The less you bring with you when entering it, the better your experience will be.
Allow me to elaborate.
Remember when I said our genre was romance? Here is the full list of required elements we had that year:
Character: Betty or Bobby Bulmer, Farmer or Gardener
Prop: A lamp
Line of Dialogue: (S)he told me it’s a secret.
Our difficulty was that we had gotten an excellent open office space that was filled with blue and red chairs, and we had a vision of using tents indoors going into the weekend. We worked so hard to get our own set of self-imposed restrictions into the film that we lost sight of the prompt.
The first draft of the script didn’t even include the prop or the line of dialogue, because I was so busy trying to fit in our other fun items. We never come up with story ideas before the weekend, but we found ourselves backed into a corner when we couldn’t let go of the extra elements we brought with us. The film as a competition piece suffered because of it. While the finished project has elements of a romance, that certainly wasn’t the primary genre and as such we failed the assignment.
We learned back with Level Up that it’s possible to not achieve the goals of a 48 but still create a film we love. This film however, finally drove home the idea that we had to put the assignment first. When we make films for challenges now we go in as blank slates and let the ideas derive directly from the assignment. You’ll usually see the assigned character as our lead, and the prop and line as integral parts of the story. It’s a really fun way to make a film and it guarantees that we are working on something we never would have dreamt of Thursday night!
In essence, we will no longer fight Vader in the cave.
I don’t want to leave you with the impression that we’re unhappy with how this film turned out. Thanks to a smooth shoot, and the dedication of our crew (Ben Efron our valiant Director of Photography actually slept in one of the tents Friday night), we turned in the film on time! And that’s really the number one rule of a 48 hour shoot: Finish. That was even after the hour we spent getting Matt to say his character’s name correctly.