I read about the Rochester Movie Makers' 72 Hour Mind 2 Movie Challenge on their website and really wanted to give it a try. So when I mentioned it to Jenn, Ali, and Ted, they jumped at the chance. Ali and I went to the RCTV Studio on Thursday evening to get our packets. We had to make up a team name and after a few minutes, we settled on the pun "For Fools". (And, if there are any judges reading this, well, you should probably stop now to keep our team's entry as anonymous as it can be.)
The gist was we'd get three elements to be included in our story: a character, an object, and a scenario and could make a movie up to 5 minutes in length. I hadn't done this in past years, but this year they opted for relatively generic categories, and, we were to make a movie with an "Entertainer" whose "Communicator" "is stolen."
We headed to Jenn's house and the three of us brainstormed over dinner. Because of the limitations we had, an "Entertainer" proved challenging: how do you do this without showing an audience? And then how do you make an interesting story about something being stolen? We decided to sleep on it, favoring maybe a magician, orator, writer, singer, or puppeteer whose letter, typewriter, or voice was stolen. We wanted something with dogs and maybe a silent film.
I didn't sleep well and awoke at 4 with the idea to have a singer whose voice is stolen as retribution. On Friday I wrote out a script that included only 3 characters, a handful of locations, and both Jenn's dog Maia and Ted & Ali's dog Lucy. It would be semi-silent, omitting only spoken dialog. I worked on a prop for most of the day: a device to capture the voice. We got together that evening. We decided to shoot on Saturday, first at Ted & Ali's house then at Jenn's, and Ted would be our editor as he's an Indymedia journalist and has worked extensively with FinalCut Pro.
That night I worked on some more props before getting to bed at a "reasonable hour". I then awoke at a "reasonable hour" and made a database to set up a shooting schedule while the rest of the team prepared their houses for the scenes. We did our first scene around 11 at Ted & Ali's, then around 1 we were shooting at Jenn's house outdoors before taking a break for lunch. We had two more indoor scenes at her house that were rather complex, and it took us until 7 p.m.
From there we downloaded all the footage from the recently purchased new-to-me Pentax K-x before heading to Ted & Ali's art space at the Hungerford Building. Ted and I plugged through and finished a rough edit by 3 a.m. and called it a night.
Sunday, the four of us got to editing and inserting sound. We made extensive use of Kevin MacLeod's fantastic public-domain library of music and selected a few songs to use. Some of the ideas in the script just weren't feasible and had to be dropped. The shooting schedule paid off and we had enough coverage for the entire script with only a few problems that we were able to fix. Despite the script being scant more than 2 pages, it ended up at about four and a half minutes.
We successfully rendered it to a video file and got it back to RCTV around 6:45 p.m. or so. The screening of all the films—19 teams in all (and every one successfully completing the challenge)—will be in two weeks on Monday, February 10 at 7 p.m. at the Cinema.
And big thanks go to Jenn, Ted, and Ali for sticking with this with me! Also to Lucy and Maia for being good dogs and putting in good performances.