‘Tis that time again, that time where manic kiwi filmmakers (professionals and wannabes alike) sacrifice a virgin weekend to the holy volcano that is The V48 Hours Challenge.
It’s a fantastic kind of hell, putting your endurance, your ego and your supposedly close friendships to the test as your team writes, shoots and cuts a three to seven-minute-long film in exactly two days. The competition’s popularity has boomed dramatically since its initial conception in 2003, which has only decreased my team’s chances for glorious famedom.
“But it’s not about winning or losing; it’s simply about having fun,” we foolishly tell ourselves as we unconsciously pick the petals from the flower of hope until all that is left is a broken stem of our former dreams.
And we’re going to relive the experience all over again, because, like a meth-head, we need to get our 48 Hour fix. It’s an annual drug, involving unhealthy eating habits, withdrawal symptoms and meeting Ant Timpson in a dark alleyway to pay the constantly increasing fee to support our addiction.
I won’t drown you with my personal history of the film fest (I did enough of that last year). The memories are a glorious blur, a gradient mix of creative integrity and throat-slitting frustration, illuminated with an over-caffeinated V-ibrancy (see what I did there?) that no other recreational competition can (or ever should) imitate. This’ll be our seventh year in the comp, and I’ve seen some noticeable improvements with our squad.
Last year was arguably our strongest entry (again, see last year’s post). However, we lost our heat to my editor’s team (Fleet Street’s very funny Fun Run) because he’s a bastard and I’ll hate him forever. Fortunately, I don’t carry grudges.
(Ed’s note: I am not a bastard. My father loves me very much.)
It is currently the Wednesday before the start of the chaotic comp as of writing. For this year’s obligatory post, I’m going to do a live-ish blog, time-coding my written thoughts as they happen. So keep a pot of Thin Lizzy on you; this could get ugly.
4:09pm - Perspiration is settling in. That’s how I know I’m excited. Or nervous. Or suffering some sort of unique glandular fever. Could be all three. I’m amped.
6:53pm – Okay, announcements are about to be announced. Here we go…
6:58pm – How in the f*cking f*ck are we meant to put slow f*cking motion into found f*cking footage!?
7:02pm – Right, time to pay for parking, leave the Aotea Square parking lot and make a damn film!
7:22pm – Aaaaaaaaaaaand we have to stop for petrol. Nice one, Scott.
7:49pm – Finally arrived at Fail Bagel HQ to twice the number of people for the planning session than originally specified. This won’t end well…
8:03pm – One half of the room can’t get a word in while the other half talks over each other.
8:38pm – We’re getting nowhere.
9:03pm - We’re getting somewhere.
9:47pm – Back to nowhere.
9:50pm – Right, now we’re down to just two ideas. Time to flip a coin and crush someone’s dream film.
9:57pm – Found-footage rom-com it is. Time to flesh this bitch out.
11:00pm – Okay, well, that phase went smoothly. Here’s where Dan and I jump in. Laptop on, knuckles cracked, ready to write like a mo’ fo’ on fire.
1:29am – I hate writing. I hate sentences. I hate words. I hate life.
1:49am – Finished. All nine pages of it. Now I can sleep myself to death.
6:00am – My Pac-man alarm clock wakes me up. I love that thing.
6:18am – We’re meeting at Long Bay at 7:30. Trying to print the script, but my shitty computer’s being shitty.
6:25am – …still being shitty…
6:29am – …still being shitty…
6:41am – I am so close to head-butting this thing right now.
6:44am – Printed! And like an Edgar Wright montage, I’m outta here.
7:22am – At Long Bay. There’s another team here, shooting at the beach, staring at our matching crew shirts. Yes, let the envy flow through you.
8:45am – First scenes have been shot and look somewhat respectable. Miraculous.
9:17am – Lost my car keys. This is a stupid problem to have.
9:19am – Still can’t find ‘em. Not gonna lie: I’m freaking out a little.
9:22am – It’s okay, everyone. My car keys are in my car door because I am dumb.
10:29am – Off to grab food and stuff for the crew. Because that’s all a writer’s good for on the Saturday.
10:51am - Quickly stop off at home, swipe a massive 26 block chocolate bar and wolfed that sucker down in 30 seconds. Sugar levels, man. They’re important.
11:11am – I return with Tim Tams for everyone. They now see me as a god.
12:25pm – Trying to shoot a vital scene involving seagulls. They are the most unreliable actors in the animal kingdom.
12:51pm – Gabe and I go out to get leaves.
1:03pm – We return with three dead trees.
1:50pm - Shooting’s almost complete. This is strange. Our 48 Hours has never been this efficient. I’m worried.
2:04pm – Just remembered that we needed to do a team intro. This involves all ten of us jammed inside a two-person tent. Things are about to get intimate.
2:37pm – Three takes and several shoes in several faces later, we get the money shot.
2:45pm – Gonna shoot some b-roll stuff then head to the final shoot location. I tell them I’ll go home briefly for a few hours. I don’t tell them that I plan to have an amazing power nap.
4:36pm – That power nap was amazing.
5:31pm – Off to the editors’ cave.
5:58pm - After 20 minutes of aimless driving, I finally managed to find the parking spot.
6:22pm – Editing…
7:02pm – Editing…
9:10pm – Editing…
9:13pm – I’d be a bit more descriptive with these updates if I were more in-tune with the editing process.
9:49pm – We’re starting to lose focus. And by “we” I mean “them”. I completely lost focus about three hours ago.
10:03pm – We’re getting restless. There’s a pub down the road. I know where this is going.
10:17pm – We’re beering (the act of doing a beer).
10:45pm – After a round-table of high-fives, I leave the editors to weave their magic.
11:19pm – Slumber.
6:00am – After seven hours of beautiful sleep, my Pac-man alarm clock wakes me up. I love that thing.
6:47am – I arrive at the editors’ cave. No world-ending news to report. That’s good.
8:13am – All the actors are set to record ADR. Amer and I prepare the sound booth (i.e. his car).
9:11am – First ADR scene recorded. Went well.
9:34am - I go out to get the crew Starbucks. I am a god, once again.
9:47am - Scott, producer and FX magician, walks in with a box of noodles. I’m slightly jealous.
10:01am – Gabe, the other FX magician, gets me to take a photo of Scott and Jamie, which he’ll later shoehorn into the team intro film.
10:44am – Gabe shows me a brief snippet of what he’s done for the team intro. He’s rotoscoped them flying out of the tent (Scott still holding his noodles). It’s hilarious.
11:03am – Amer and I head out with Alicia back into the recording booth to do all of her lines.
11:39am – Time’s going faster than we thought. We set a deadline for 4:30pm
11:50am – Alicia and I set out to get the crew pizza. Despite the price, I tell them I’ll bring back Sal’s pizza. They deserve it.
12:02pm – Literally a few metres away from Sal’s and I get a phone call:
“Nah, Sal’s is too expensive and it isn’t that nice. We’ll order Dominos instead.”
Alicia and I head back to the cave, talking about the fantastic amount of time we just wasted.
12:27pm – We’re gonna start recording all ADR for Craig’s scenes. We’re gonna have to blitz this. Hard.
1:09pm - Craig’s done. Now we need some atmosphere and footsteps.
1:22pm – Back in the cave. Scott makes it rain. It looks awesome.
1:41pm - Gabe wants some horse sounds for the unicorn he’s put in the intro. I open my iPhone’s recorder app and neigh my ass off.
2:00pm - My vocal sound FX have been added. I cannot stress enough how magically funny this intro has become.
2:13pm - The editors are really feeling the stress now.
2:26pm – Gabe asks for more sounds. I happily oblige.
2:49pm – Original corny slo-mo scene has been cut. Replaced by tacked-on slo-mo scene at the end. It’s trading a punch in the nuts for a slap in the face, really (meaning, I’d rather take the slap in the face).
3:00pm – A looming sense of dread encapsulates us all as we look at the clock and all the work we have yet to do.
3:13pm – Discussions about changing the ending. Not cool.
3:19pm – Daniel finds a good compromise. Three cheers for reasoning!
3:30pm – An hour left until our assigned deadline and there’s still a shitload to do. We’re not going to make it. How the f*ck did this happen!?
3:36pm – Gabe asks me to record some more a capella sound effects. This is way more fun than it should be.
4:12pm – I’m shown the edited second half of the film. I try to repress how happy I’m not. Some scenes have been thrown into an editor’s blender.
4:15pm – Daniel looks at the scene as well. He is equally unhappy. Nothing we can do about it now.
4:25pm - Gabe and I laugh hysterically at the completed team intro. It’s amazing.
4:31pm – Deadline passed. Have yet to complete the sound, slap the two halves of the film together, touch it up and render.
4:39pm – There are still things that need to be done. We’re oblivious as to how all this work has mounted up on us.
5:05pm – Okay, okay, we’re seeing some form.
5:38pm – We may just get away with this…
5:51pm – Render! Render! Render!
6:08pm – In the car. Envelope and flash drive in my hand.
6:09pm – Shit, should probably roll that window up.
6:17pm – Outside the Aotea Centre’s NZI room, waiting for the rest of the team.
6:28pm – Success.