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April 11, 2011 | by  | in Film |
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Blood, Sweat & Videotape

Making Films in a Single Weekend

Fancy yourself as a budding director, actor or producer? Enjoy storytelling or have an eye for the cinematic? Why not get involved in New Zealand’s largest film competition?
Lucky for you, you live in a city with striking scenery, many creative individuals and a thriving film industry. Surely that’s reason enough to throw yourself into the challenge of the V48 Hour Film Festival and shoot, cut and survive your way through a weekend of film-making frenzy.

What is it?

The V48 hour film festival is an annual short film competition open to anyone with an interest in film. It started in 2003 with 44 teams competing in Auckland and has since grown to over 650 teams participating in last year’s competition in cities throughout New Zealand. This year the competition is being held over the weekend of May 20 to 22.

How It Works

The fun begins on Friday the 20th at 7pm, when teams gather to receive the random elements of the competition. This includes a film genre specific to each team, which could be anything, with Road Movie to Thriller, Romance to Horror, Political to Religious being listed among previous years’ offerings.
Other elements could include a character, a line of dialogue and a prop, which must appear somewhere in all teams’ short films. From there, teams have exactly 48 hours to write, shoot and edit a short film, to be completed by 7pm on Sunday the 22nd.
Completed films are then screened in heats to audiences throughout the competing cities. A panel of judges select City Finalists, which then to go through to the Grand Final, in which teams can pick up “fabulous prizes and glory”.

So… How do I get involved?

Team registrations are available via the V48 hour website v48hours.co.nz/2011/ and will remain so until May 1 at a cost of $195 per team. Or if you still want to be involved, but can’t rope in any of your friends, try signing up to the forums on the website to join an already registered team.
If it’s your first time, there’s a bunch of helpful Video Tips and plenty of information about all aspects of making the most of the competition. To get some more inspiration check out some of the previous year’s finalists on the V48 website including last year’s Grand Final winner Only Son.

Salient caught up with local filmmaker Glenn Miers, who directed last year’s V48 Wellington regional winning film Balls & Chain.

Making a film in just 48 hours seems like quite a stressful undertaking. How do you cope with this?

To begin with it certainly was, when you’ve never done this type of thing before, you do worry if you’re going to be able to pull it off or not. There is a certain amount of pressure, especially since you always want to aim as high as you possibly can.
We’ve minimised stress by making sure that our equipment is all working correctly and ensuring that you can output to tape, which is one of the biggest issues people seem to face.
Try to be tolerant. If you’ve never done it before it can be stressful. Keep a cool head—lots of back-slapping and hugs go a long way. Also appreciate that everyone is putting in their time for free. It’s supposed to be a fun weekend and it’s not the end of the world if you turn in something that’s not quite what you thought it would be.

How and why did you initially get involved in V48?

I’d always had an interest in filmmaking. It’s basically storytelling really and it’s a great way to express ideas. I’m involved with a team called Dog Films and this year it will be year five for us.

As an experienced V48 entrant do you have any helpful tips to pass on to those considering entering this year?

We certainly learnt a lot in our first year when we did it a film called Three Little Pegs. We had a crew of 32 and it was just insane trying to feed and coordinate that amount of people over a weekend and was just too much of a mission. We learnt from that early on that trying to be too big, and trying to make it like it was a feature, is not a very good idea.
So, keep it simple, it’s not a feature film. You don’t have time to make a feature and you really don’t want to end up with too much material which you then have to try and squeeze into seven minutes.

So what makes a great short film and how do you go about it?

Story is king with this sort of stuff and a great story can be shot on a cell phone. Ultimately, if the story is compelling and the characters are compelling, then people will want to watch it.
You can apply a certain amount of professionalism, by using steadicams, by considering the shots and not trying to break cinematic rules.
Every year we try to sketch out storyboards of what our shot angles are going to be, so we’re not shooting unnecessary material. Even if they’re only stick figures, they give us a really good idea of where everything is going to be placed and what we’re going to need for each shot to make it happen.

Any important bits of information that first timers should watch out for?

You need to get permission for many of the places that you film, either from the owner of the property or the City Council. If you’re filming in a public location, with say fake weapons, make sure you contact the central police station to advise them. In general it just pays to be sure, because there would be nothing worse then handing in an absolute gem of a film and then getting disqualified because you didn’t have permission. So just make sure you dot your is and cross your ts with that sort of thing.

What’s it like being involved in filmmaking in Wellington?

It’s a great community. Wellington has a really good feel to it and there’s a lot of support because there’s a lot of people involved in it, even if it’s just as a side interest. Wellington is really perceived as a filmmaking centre with Wingnut, Park Road Post and WETA here.

Do you see any exciting developments in the genre of film?

The technology has very much democratised the whole process. You can go out and pick up a camera and shoot HD video that has a very filmic look to it. That means it’s certainly more available to a lot more people than it was two or three years ago, which can only be a good thing. It’s a lot easier to get material out through the web, but with the proliferation of such sites it can be a lot harder to get noticed, but that falls back into the category of coming up with something that is unique, looks good and has had the time taken to get it right.

EXCITED? YOU SHOULD BE!
Email us at editor@salient.org.nz
and tell us in under a hundred words about the worst 48 hours of your life. The best entry will win not only a DVD of some of the best of last year’s entrants but also get FREE ENTRY INTO THIS YEAR’S COMPETITION.

Cool? Eh?

You have until the 15th of April.

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