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December 2013

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Spun and 48 Hour Tips

“Spun” won an Honorable Mention by the Producers Guild of America! 🙂

 

 

The Producers Guild of America (p.g.a.) has an annual contest called The Weekend Shorts Challenge (“Competition”).  It has similarities to 48 hour film contests, but this one is nationwide (I’m not sure if there are other nation wide 48 hour contests).  The Competition starts on a Friday at 2pm PST when the p.g.a. releases certain elements that must appear in your film.  Then you have only until 6pm PST on Sunday to write the script, film, edit, music, etc.

 

You are not allowed to write or film prior to that Friday.  I’m not sure how people could do so anyway – what if one of the required elements totally does not fit with your script?  You want the elements to flow with the story.  Also, it’s simply fun to work with a team and be creative under time pressure.

Things you are allowed to do prior to Friday – plan the non-creative aspects.

Here are my tips for competing in a 48 hour film festival. 

Let me preface these tips by disclosing that I have only competed in this contest two times, but both times made it to the Top 10 in the U.S. and won honorable mentions.  There are probably better experts, but here’s what I think:

Read the rules carefully:

– You don’t want to get disqualified for a silly mistake!  I know some teams that missed an element or that missed the deadline because they didn’t read the tech requirements.

Building Your Team:

– Choose not only talented people, but also people that can work fast and under pressure!  This particular contest has an extreme deadline!  You can’t have people that don’t know how to make fast decisions or work swiftly.

– The email I sent to everyone that I’ve worked with in the past contained the following information:

  • Dates Needed (Also see timeline below)
  • About The Contest (Be brief and put in a link to the contest)
  • About Eyal & me.  Pitch how great of a producer you are!  You want talented professionals on your team! One of the Contest rules is that no one can be paid.  So you have to convince talented people to join you for free!  I’m blessed to have won awards and to also have Eyal Alony as a producing partner.  More about him here.  I also am very passionate about producing so I think people can sense that and therefore I’ve always had wonderful teammates.  So thankful to them.
  • No pay because it is against the rules (Be upfront so you don’t waste your time or their time)
  • You will get food on set!
  • The Crew Positions Needed
  • If you are not available, do you have referrals?

– The crew positions:

  • I’ve produced films with as little as 5 crew members to as many as 55.  For this particular contest, you want enough people so there is no lag time when moving equipment, but you don’t want too many people that will slow you down or draw attention.  These are the positions I think you should have for this contest:
  1. Writer
  2. Director
  3. UPM
  4. AD – I cannot stress how important it is to have an experienced AD that can command the set and schedule!
  5. DP
  6. AC
  7. DIT
  8. Gaffer
  9. Grip
  10. PA
  11. Sound Mixer & Boom
  12. Production Designer
  13. Hair Artist that can also help with continuity
  14. Makeup Artist
  15. 2nd Unit DP
  16. 2nd Unit Gaffer
  17. 2nd Unit Grip
  18. 2nd Unit Sound
  19. Editor – This person must be able to work well even without much sleep.  I think this person should be on set the whole time and not just start at the end of production / beginning of post production. It will be faster for him/her if s/he already knows the story and shots.
  20. Sound Designer
  21. Colorist
  22. Music Composer
  • If you know that you want to have stunts in your film, then please have trained professionals on your team!  I’ve been an actor on sets that didn’t have this and it was crazy unsafe.  We chose not to add this stress for this contest, but I  would love to try it in the future.
  • Make sure you discuss the 2nd cam option with your Director.  I feel it can save a lot of time to have two.  However, it can also slow down the process if s/he has never worked that way.

Casting

– Approach #1:  This is the approach for “Spun”.  Pick the actors that you, the writer, and the director have worked with in the past and want to work with again.  Keep the number small.  So this becomes another element for the writer – he/she has to use the elements that the p.g.a. provides on Friday night and also must use only these particular actors.

– Approach #2: This is the approach for “Change to Spare” the year before.  I sent an email to all of my actor friends and asked them to be available from Saturday 1am to Sunday 11am, but they are not guaranteed a role since we don’t know what the writer will come up with.  As a producer, I want the writer to have freedom to write the best script and not be limited by having to write for certain actors.  But as an actor, I feel bad to make so many people hold that weekend open and they ended up not getting cast.

Equipment

– Of course my favorite camera is the Arri Alexa.  However, this particular contest does not have the luxury of time.  So we used two Cannon 5D.

Locations

– Ask your team to send pictures to you of locations that they have access to so your writer and director can view them.  Would be great to have tons of regular and unique locations so they have wonderful options when the contest begins.

– Find out about restrictions, restrooms, parking, drive time all ahead of time.  You may need to eliminate one of the locations before the writer falls in love with it.

Create a timeline for the weekend

– Things came up so we were not able to stick to this timeline but I think it is important to at least start with this or something similar in order to have goals for the whole weekend:

Friday:

1:45pm – Writer, Director, Producer meet at Writer’s preferred place

2:00pm – PGA emails the constraints/elements

2:00-6pm – Writer writes (Director and Producer there in case s/he needs to bounce ideas off others)

6:00pm – UPM, Production Designer, 1st AD, DP arrive and discuss script and tone and needs with Writer and Director

7:00pm – UPM will e-mail the actors and crew the call times, driving directions, script (actors, the script might change slightly but not much), wardrobe list, prop list, etc ; Actors start memorizing lines and work on characters.

7:00pm – Director starts story boards shot list etc and work with AD on more precise schedule

Saturday:

7:00am – Approx cast and crew ARRIVAL TIME ; everyone that has not signed yet, please meet AD first in order to fill out and sign contracts (work for hire agreements; releasing name and likeness; SAG; PGA paperwork, etc)

7:30am to 7pm – Shoot (food breaks of course)

7:00pm – cast and crew dismissed (but our wonderful editor who has already been working all day will continue)

10pm – editor finishes rough cut and sends to director and producer for notes

Sunday:

7am – 10am – Editor and Director time; Locked Picture complete

10am – 12pm – Music Composer

12pm – 2pm – Sound Design

2pm – 4pm – Editor last stuff

5pm – DEADLINE.  Video must have been already uploaded to withoutabox, not uploading.

 

Well those are my tips for now.  I’ll try to think of more.

Have fun!!!

The only information that the p.g.a. releases prior to that Friday is the name of the producer that the contest is honoring.  The year we entered, the contest was in honor of Laura Ziskin. Embarrassed to admit that I did not know anything about her before this contest.  How could that be when her films are amazing! Prior to the start of the contest, my producing partner and I researched her life and films because we tried to guess what the elements would be, but realized that’s impossible since she has done so much.  Check out more information about her here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laura_Ziskin.

 

ELEMENTS:  

For the 2013 contest, held in honor of producer Laura Ziskin, the elements of the assignment are as follows:

Genre: ROMANTIC COMEDY

Setting: RESTAURANT or CAR.  Many of Laura’s films feature memorable scenes set in restaurants (e.g., As Good as it GetsSpider-Man) or cars (e.g., No Way OutPretty Woman).  Films are not required to take place exclusively within a restaurant or car but the main action of the film must take place in one of these settings.

Story Elements: a BOUQUET OF FLOWERS, a SPIDER, a NECKTIE, a CREDIT CARD, an AMERICAN FLAG.  Each of these objects has played a key role in one of Laura’s films.  Entries in the contest must include at least three of these items in some fashion. Furthermore, at least one of the items must have a central or important function in the story.

Theme/Motif:  Films must utilize one of the following motifs or themes: (1) AN UNLIKELY COUPLE (Laura’s films frequently paired dynamic, magnetic or ambitious women with male counterparts who were reticent or withdrawn, and even in some cases outright misanthropic or anti-social); or (2) HEROES OR ANTI-HEROES? (Characters in Laura’s films often maintain our sympathy [and even complicity] despite making choices that are evidently selfish, manipulative or destructive, requiring us to [re]consider the nature of our attachment to and investment in these figures and their stories.)

 

So what did we come up with?

“SPUN”

GAL MEETS GUY MEETS SPIDER

 

The "Spun" team at the Producers Guild Weekend Challenge screening of the Top 10 films.

The “Spun” team at the Producers Guild Weekend Challenge screening of the Top 10 films.

 

That's me!

That’s me!

 

The "Spun" actors (Steve Brewster, Grace Santos, Wesam Keesh) at the Producers Guild of America Weekend Challenge's screening of the Top 10 films.

The “Spun” actors (Steve Brewster, Grace Santos, Wesam Keesh) at the Producers Guild of America Weekend Challenge’s screening of the Top 10 films.

 

Eyal and me crossing our fingers before the p.g.a. announces the winners!

Eyal and me crossing our fingers before the p.g.a. announces the winners!

 

The producers of the Top 10 finalists of the Producers Guild of America Weekend Challenge. (I'm in the orange!)

The producers of the Top 10 finalists of the Producers Guild of America Weekend Challenge. (I’m in the orange!)

 

BTS photo of "Spun" Director (Adam Rosenbaum), Editor (Dan Alvarado), Assistant Director (Adi Dardik), Writer/Producer (Eyal Alony) bright and early at 7am in Montrose, California.

BTS photo of “Spun” Director (Adam Rosenbaum), Editor (Dan Alvarado), Assistant Director (Adi Dardik), Writer/Producer (Eyal Alony) bright and early at 7am in Montrose, California.

 

BTS photo of me talking to our wonderful Makeup/Hair Supervisor (Yvette Mikkelson) and Art Director (Gabrielle Giraud).

BTS photo of me talking to our beautiful Makeup/Hair Supervisor (Yvette Mikkelson) and Art Director (Gabrielle Giraud).

 

"Spun" 2nd Unit DP (and my legs lol)

“Spun” 2nd Unit DP (and my legs lol)

 

Filming the last scene first before too many people get to the shopping area.

Filming the last scene first before too many people get to the shopping area.

 

When you have to quickly get a shot and equipment is not nearby

When you have to quickly get a shot and equipment is not nearby.

 

Finished at the first location in time. Company move to location 2. Our Director and AD thinking!

Finished at the first location in time. Company move to location 2. Our Director and AD thinking!

 

BTS photo of "Spun" Gaffer (Inga Mitinyan) and Grip (Miao Chien).

BTS photo of “Spun” Gaffer (Inga Mitinyan) and Grip (Miao Chien).

 

BTS photo of "Spun" Sound Mixers, Ashley Maria and Jay Menez.

BTS photo of “Spun” Sound Mixers, Ashley Maria and Jay Menez.

 

That's a Wrap! And on time! Group photo of the "Spun" team.

That’s a Wrap! And on time! Group photo of the “Spun” team.

 

 

 

WATCH “SPUN” and the other Top 10 from the 2013 Competition:

 

After the contest, we also posted “Spun” on Funny Or Die:

 

SPUN

GAL MEETS GUY MEETS SPIDER

STILLS:

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“SPUN” END CREDITS

Directed by Adam Rosenbaum

Written by Eyal Alony

Produced by Eyal Alony and Grace Santos (f/k/a Feeney)

Cinematography by Steve Carter

Edited by and Co-Produced by Dan Alvarado

Music Composed by Adam Gubman

Starring

Renee – Steve Brewster

Ida – Grace Santos (f/k/a Feeney)

Louis – Wesam Keesh

Line Producer     Marc Harris

Assistant Director     Adi Dardik

Art Director     Gabrielle Giraud

Sound Mixer     Ashley Maria

Gaffer     Inga Mitinyan

Assistant Camera     Christopher Bucca Taylor

Makeup/Hair Supervisor     Yvette Mikkelson

Production Assistant     Jessica Jazeyeri

Second Unit DP    Peter Pearce

Second Unit AC     Miao Chien

Second Unit Sound Mixer     Jay Menez

Sound Designer     Ashley Maria

Production Companies:

Old Joe Productions

Blind Vision Films

Ethos Pictures

Special Thanks:

for the last minute location help.

Steve Carter, Dan Alvarado, Jay Menez, Ashley Maria for supplying the equipment.

The filmmakers wish to thank their families for allowing the 50 hours of insanity.

 

No spiders were harmed during the making of this production, though some hearts were broken.

 

“This film/video was made for the Producers Guild of America Weekend Shorts Challenge.”

In memory of Producer Laura Ziskin 

© 2013 Ethos Pictures LLC