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May 20, 2013 | by  | in Arts Film |
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Rialto Channel 48HOURS Contest

Every year, thousands of eager filmmakers compete in what is arguably the most hectic film-production contest known to mankind. Many
sacrifice sleep and sanity in an effort to produce innovative films within the measly timeframe of 48 hours. Salient Film Editor Gerald Lee sat down with student filmmaker Michelle Kan to discuss the competition and its appeal.

Are there any particular types of film or genres that excite you as a filmmaker?

I like making short films mostly. A lot of people are like “Yeah, feature films!” but I really like trying to make short films. I like experimenting with in-camera effects and doing a lot of things that you mightn’t do if you had big special-effects programmes. I really like using low-budget effects. I mean, I haven’t made many of them at the moment, but I’d like to make some short films about the relationships between friends and things like that.

How do you begin to plan out your film once you are given the basic setup?

Well, what we did last year is that on the Friday night we all sat around and took about ten minutes to try and think of an idea. We then pooled them all together and decided which one was the best, and also mixed together elements from them all until we got something that we quite liked. Then we went to bed early, so we could get at least one night of sleep. On Saturday we filmed pretty much all day, and then just started editing until we had a rough cut done by about noon on the Sunday.

What was the idea behind your film from last year’s competition?

Well, we got ‘Inspirational’ as our genre, and I think it was new to the competition. It was very strange; my friend punched the couch when we found out. We ended up making a seven-minute film about an android who was built to replay music but wants to create music.

How do the prizes and recognition that you can attain incentivise you?

For me, it’s never really about the prizes. I just want to make a really good film. I was interviewing Dan Slevin for my Film Honours project the other day—he runs the Wellington division of 48HOURS—and he was saying that most people are really just interested in seeing their films on the big screen. That’s the most appealing part to me as well.

How do you find the time constraints? Does it encourage you to think and work innovatively ?

I think it does. When you have so little time and you have to think on your feet and then you’re being given things like an “unlucky character” or an “ex-bully”, it helps to inspire people. You have to be really out-there crazy, because you can’t sit and stew about it for a couple of days like you would if you were trying to do a creative project for uni.

Do you find the special rules regarding props etc. limiting, or do they actually help focus your creative energies?

I think they do help you focus. It’s kind of like when you study French and someone tells you “Say something in French” and you don’t know what to say. It’s kind of like that. If I’m being given carte blanche, and I find this a lot when writing stories, then it’ll take me days to think of something. However, if someone gives me a prompt then it gives me something to work off and it does help a lot. So, last year our prop was a leaf, and some people would just shoot their film and shoehorn it into it, but sometimes teams try and include it as an element of their story and that helps funnel your efforts.

Do you have any advice for aspiring filmmakers or others looking to get involved in the competition?

In regards to aspiring filmmakers, just get out there and make something. It doesn’t have to be good because you learn by failure. You don’t have to have the best equipment or even know what you’re doing, but if you just get a camera and try and do something then that’s a good first step.

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