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PatrickAThompson
06-18-2012, 07:53 AM
Hey everyone! I just wanted to share the experience I had this past weekend.

I participated in "The 48Hour Film Project" in Dallas... In an all volunteer setting, each team pulled a specific genre from a hat on Friday evening.. Then, we were all given a character, a line of dialogue, and a prop which had to be incorporated into the short film in some fashion.

It was interesting to be the film's composer... as we had exactly 48 hours in which to write, shoot, edit and deliver the final product.

This is how it went: I was at my studio, ready to go at 7pm on Friday (which is the time we're allowed to begin - as no creatives can take place prior to 7pm). The producer called me and told me the genre...

While it's FAR from the norm of how score composing normally works, my plan was to just write, and write, and write - building musical puzzle pieces which could then be plugged into the film.

Once the script was written (about 12am, Saturday morning), I was given a specific list of compositions which were needed. By 2am, I had about 4 minutes of finished music ready to go.... and I took a short nap.

I got up about 6am and went back to work. Around 9am, I headed up to the set so I could get some inspiration from watching the cast and crew shoot... It helped me get a clearer picture as to the vibe of the film. I headed home and went back to work composing.

Around 2am on Sunday, I got the rough edit of the film and I started placing my music into the soundtrack and sent it back to the director around 4am. Shortly after that, I got the 'final' cut -- which had cleaned up the timing up the clips and added sound effects... I tweaked my score some more and adjusted for the new timing.

I finally got to bed about 6am for a 4 hour nap... They needed one more pass after finalizing the original final edit.

Back and forth.. back and forth. I was given a good deal of creative freedom while still under the general guidelines of the director.

The film, in its entirety is about 5:30... which falls in the middle of the Project's 4-7min requirement.

I'm quite pleased with how it came out. Screenings are on Wednesday, with awards and wrap party on Friday. My entire team is screaming for me to win "Best Score"... but we'll just have to wait and see.

But seriously... what a cool experience! Doing stuff like this, in a team situation really puts one's talents and drive to the test. I know there were a handful of teams which didn't finish or turn in their film by the deadline... which is a shame.

If you have the chance, I'd HIGHLY suggest participating in a challenge like this. It's a fun, challenging, caffeine-induced stupor of a weekend! AND, if you're as lucky as I am, you'll meet some great new connections and end up with a job offer at the end of it. :)

I'll keep you posted on the outcome.

PatrickAThompson
06-24-2012, 08:52 AM
So, there were some outstanding shorts at this screening on Wednesday. While my film didn't win anything, it was still a great challenge and an equally great experience. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

There were a handful of films with great production value... and a handful of those which seemed to be shot on a camera phone --- BUT I found the ones with less-than-awesome cinematic appeal had the better stories\writing.

The film which all but swept the awards was produced by a team mostly from LA (even though the contest was in Dallas). They reportedly spent about $5000 on their shoot. It was a GREAT looking film with a gunfight, blood squibs, strong acting, amazing cinematography, and an airplane... yes... an airplane.

It was, by far, the most 'Hollywood' of all the films screened.

My problem is this. I understand the point behind the 48 Hour Film Project is to encourage and inspire emerging film makers in each city. Let's ignore that the winning team was from LA. But they took home 7 awards...

The message this sends to the other 20 qualifying teams is that if you can't produce a blockbuster, then you shouldn't waste your time.

Right away, this seems like 'sour grapes'... but I assure you, it's not. Frankly there were more films deserving of accolades than mine.

Like I said, the winning film was really outstanding -- but the awards given were not in line with the point of the project. I know we work in an "everyone gets a trophy for effort" kind of industry... but in this particular setting, I would have liked to have seen the love spread out to other teams who worked as hard (if not harder) on smaller budgets and lower-grade equipment... THIS would have encouraged more teams to come back next year...

But instead, I saw a lot of resentment and a "I'm going to take my ball and go home!" reaction.

It's a shame, really.

While production values ARE important -- Story is king. Dialogue and emotional connections are paramount... and I didn't feel any response to the winning film other than "HOLY COW! This looks amazing!!... and they got a PLANE??"

So - moving forward - I'd still do it again... Writing 8 minutes of music in under 48 hours was a kick in the head - but SO rewarding because now I know it's possible .

And next year... we'll have to get a plane... or maybe a giraffe... That would be cool.

PatrickAThompson
11-22-2013, 07:34 PM
Just an update:

I participated in Dallas' 48-Hour Film Festival again this year. This time, with a completely different group.

I won "Best Musical Score" - which is quite an honor.

Mind you, there were, perhaps, 3 teams who were brave enough to compose original music for their short. I know, for a short, it is MUCH easier to source the score from a stock library -- but here was my problem. There were 4 out of about 20 teams who even recognized their music's creators in the credits.

I talk about this because I feel like it is up to us, as film composers, to speak up. Not because we're better than everyone else...but because we are genuinely part of the team. Film scores, in my opinion, are not SUPPOSED to be listened to - but they are felt and subconsciously observed to serve the emotion of the film. A subliminal shot of steroids for the film's emotions, if you will. I believe that's worth recognition. :)

Nick Soares
11-22-2013, 07:37 PM
Love reading these, thanks!

directorduncan
11-24-2013, 06:09 AM
The 48 hour film project is always fun. Every year I tell myself it'll be the last time I do this, but it seems like I can't stay away from it the following year.
Fun and competative experience!