Our film, entitled “Condemned”, was honored with the “Best Use of Character” and an “Audience Choice” award at the Best 0f 48 Hour Film Project event on August 24, 2010 at Lincoln Hall.

The 48 Hour Film Project is a worldwide competition in which industry professionals and filmmaking enthusiasts are given a randomly selected assignment on a Friday night, and then have 48 hours to write, shoot, edit, and deliver a completed film.  All teams were requited to incorporate the same prop (mug), character (Duncan or Denise Kerry, a salesman), and line of dialogue (“I am sure you are mistaken”).  Then random genres were pulled from a hat. This year we were assigned “Western”.  As soon we received our genre and required elements on Friday night, the race was on to make a film!

I have participated in this competition several times when I lived in New Zealand. This was my first time participating in Chicago, and my first time stepping up to the role of producer – previously I’ve edited, directed, and run lights.  We had an absolutely amazing ensemble team! We based ourselves at Brella Productions’ worldclass studio and postproduction facilities in Evanston. From Brella, we had director / cameraman Marc Morgan, writer Margaret Dill Andrea, soundman Ray Araldi, and editor Spencer Parks.  From Adelstein Liston, we had assistant editor and production assistant Peter Molinaro and graphics pro Warren Rudd.  We had costume-maker and art department director Rebecca Miller, experienced in designing costumes for the stage.  For music, we had Bainard Panic Defense. We had the incredibly gifted puppet-maker / puppeteer Noah Ginex of the Noah Ginex Puppet Company (famous for his recent Barenaked Ladies music video).  And performing we also had established screen and stage actor Jim Parks of Minute Navigator and T0day’s Green MinutePost continues here…

Since the topics and other requirements were kept secret until Friday night, very little could have been prepared ahead of time.  The story writing began on Friday night with a group brainstorming session, where we discussed how we were going to incorporate puppets and a human into a Western-themed story we could easily shoot in one day.  Noah brought several puppets with, who auditioned one a time for our film. Once we had our story, cast, and plan hashed out, Margaret Andrea and I burned the midnight oil until 6am to form the story into a finalized script.  Meanwhile, Rebecca Miller took our pig actors home to create custom costumes for them. At 9:30am the next morning we reconvened at Brella to begin rehearsing and setting up in the studio, whilst Rebecca drove around town finding costumes and props.

By about 3pm, we were well-rehearsed and finally had all the props and costumes we needed to begin shooting.  We went with a sparce set, and used some clever lighting tricks, engineered and operated by Ray Araldi, Spencer Parks, and Peter Molinaro, to create the illusion of a prison cell.  Rebecca Miller’s fine attention to detail in costumes and props made our Old West world come to life.   Our  goal was to do the whole film as a single continuous shot through long takes.  As anyone in the film world knows, this is much more difficult than the usual short takes, as without editing absolutely everything must line up perfectly in one go.  Thanks to some amazing directing by Marc Morgan, and incredible skill and patience by peformers Noah Ginex and Jim Parks, after recording 13 takes over the next six hours, we finally had our scene perfected.  We wrapped shooting about 9:30 pm Saturday night, and headed home.

Sunday we met at about 10am back at Brella to begin postproduction.  Spencer and Pete began assembling and perfecting the best takes in the Avid.  Meanwhile, Ray set about the momentous task of creating an Old West soundscape entirely in post, collaborating with Pete to cleverly folley sounds in Brella’s soundbooth.  Warren Rudd was hard at work creating some graphic touches for our opening titles and credits.  By 6pm, we had a finished movie output to tape and were on our way downtown to hand it in.

All in all, an incredible weekend with a great team of creative talent!  Hope you can make it on Wednesday to see our film!

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