In the second part of this series, Supriya Srinivias speaks to a motley team of people involved in the 48-hour Film Project on different levels Forty eight hours is an unforgiving window to create a short film from scratch and a number of professionals faltered while first-time filmmakers and eventual winners of the best film […]
In the second part of this series, Supriya Srinivias speaks to a motley team of people involved in the 48-hour Film Project on different levels
Forty eight hours is an unforgiving window to create a short film from scratch and a number of professionals faltered while first-time filmmakers and eventual winners of the best film prize, Kalyan Chakravarthy and his team kept it simple.
We decided to keep the concept simple, with a minimal approach towards location and cast, says Chakravarthy.
We tried not to complicate the shoot process so that we could keep up with the schedule. We were ready with the concept and script by the morning of Friday and started shooting from 7am to 10 pm on the same day.
On Thursday, 10th November, participating teams gathered at The Pavilion in Downtown Dubai, where they were each given a genre, a character, a prop, and a line of dialogue to work into their film. Films submitted even one minute after the allotted time on November 12 were disqualified from the competition.
The keep-it-simple mantra worked for Chakravarthys team as its entry titled Solus tied for Best Writing and Most Promising Filmmaker and won top honours as the Best Film in Dubais inaugural 48 Hour Film Project (48HFP).
The 33-year-old director of a Dubai-based events and media production company calls this project creativity born out of chaos.
At one point, it did get chaotic. We had quite a few challenges. For instance, it took us three hours to find the box a key element in our movie. We used the Canon 7D to shoot the film with a range of lenses and the film was edited using Sony Vegas software on a computer called Speedy with an accelerated graphics card.
The festival was organised by filmmaker Mo Rida, who had seen the festival in action in New York and was keen to bring it to the UAE.
As you can see by all this enthusiasm here at the final screening, the project is about filmmaking but also about building communities of local creative people, making new connections and really having fun with what creativity and teamwork can achieve in just one weekend, explains Rida.
Unfazed by genres such as Western/Musical, Mocumentary and Period Piece, the top ten teams created films that were uniformly engaging. Time management was critical with all of the creative elementswriting, shooting, editing and adding a soundtrack that had to occur in a 48-hour window beginning Friday evening at seven and ending Sunday at seven.
More than 100 filmmakers took part in the competition. 40 teams set out to do the project but only 37 were completed and of that, only 21 were on time, points out Rida.
Age and production pedigree were clearly no barriers for the entrants.
Our youngest filmmaking team was headed by an 11-year old boy named Charlie Cracknell, observes Rida.
I know that this format is ideal for amateurs who have always wanted to make movies. The response has been good for this event and I would like to thank our sponsors and judges, Nawaf Al-Janahi, Tim Smythe and Nayla Chacra for their support.
The winning team received US$3,000 in cash and filmmaking equipment from event sponsor Advanced Media Trading (AMT).
For organiser, Rida, life is likely to get more hectic as plans are in the offing to expand the idea of the 48-hour project to even more parts of the Arab world.
Based on the exceptional results, we are looking to take this project to other cities in the region. Dubai was the second city in the Middle East to host the 48HFP after Beirut. I was behind the projects in both cities and will continue to establish these projects in other cities as well over the next year or two. Cairo was supposed to be next, but it looks like we may have to wait a bit before going to Egypt. In the meantime, we are looking at either Doha or Abu Dhabi this spring. Beirut will still be in July, and I intend to do another one in Dubai next November, Rida says.
Ridas plans for expansion are not without reason. Nearly 1,000 people attended the sold out events at the Shelter and the Fridge for the five screenings of all the films submitted for the 2011 Dubai 48HFP.
He was even impressed with the quality of the films submitted.
For Dubai, there were a number of films that were impressive in their ability to tell a well-formed story in this technical medium with the limited time they had available. What surprised me about the Dubai community was that not only did we get a large number of participants but almost everyone who was involved submitted a film. There were a few films that were professional grade, very nice cinematography and editing, and a good grasp of how to tell a story with the camera. Its always wonderful to see that the filmmakers are taking themselves seriously and displaying their collaborative talent to make a mark.
The winning film, Solus is now in the running for top honours at Filmapalooza, the 48-Hour Film Projects annual awards festival that will be held in March 2012 in New Mexico. At this festival, the 100 best 48-hour films will be screened and judged by an international judging panel. In addition, the top 10 international 48HFP films will be screened at the Cannes Short Film Corner in 2012.
Echoing the sentiments of most of the participants who have promised to return next year, winner Chakravarthy says: The journey has just started for us with a big bang. This experience has lifted our confidence levels to extend our skills further.
In the meantime, seated among a motley group of filmmakers, film buffs and the press, one of the sponsors, Kaveh Farnam of Advanced Media was a happy man as he saw around him the clear evidence of an increase in the tribe of filmmakers.
Well known among local film buffs for his enthusiastic support towards filmmaking, Farnam said: We believe in supporting filmmaking initiatives here. At Advanced Media, we already work closely with several camera and lens manufacturers and host bi-monthly workshops in Dubai aimed at familiarising end-users with new technologies.
The exciting new development for us is a new partnership with Alliance Francaise that allows us to screen a Persian movie any two weeks of a month. We screen a movie and discuss it at length. We have done 35 nights so far. We mostly screen Persian cinema. We have a group of around 500 people on email and 360 on Facebook. But its a private group and its a non- profit group called TAMASHAKHANEH.
In the meantime, Rida is looking at making this an annual event in some cities.
It is important to know if there is a good local independent filmmaking community in each city. This factor will decide if it will make the project an annual fixture for each city. The mission right now is to spread this concept throughout the region in the hope of promoting filmmakers, locating and building an independent filmmaking community. Already, we have done this with our first year in just two cities. Eventually, I hope we will be able to link all the involved cities together through an annual regional event.