A weekend of almost nonstop action with Manchester film competition
MANCHESTER - The clock is rolling even when the cameras aren't during the 48 Hour Film Project.
The competition crams the entire process of creating a film from start to finish into 48 hours. The narrow window began Friday night, and casts and crews scrambled Saturday to get the shots that had just been written and visualized during an overnight brainstorming session.
"It's a pretty intense experience," director Arnold Soko said as he and members of team LiveFree set up at a new location.
LiveFree was one of 26 teams taking part in the sixth annual New Hampshire 48 Hour Film Project, an event co-sponsored by the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Teams must include the same three pre-selected elements in short films that can run from four to seven minutes within a genre, randomly selected from a wide-ranging pool that included romance, drama, comedy, sci-fi and horror, to name a few.
"They do an incredible job with just 48 hours to do everything," said Dan Greenleaf, producer of the Granite State competition.
LiveFree was saddled with making a silent film in the drawing Friday night, but opted to throw that back for a wild-card pick and received the genre of chase/escape.
The required elements were a character (long distance runner Alexis or Alan Fleming), a prop (an award) and a quote ("In my opinion, it's perfect" or "In my opinion, it is perfect.")
From there, "The Last Recollection" slowly began taking shape from the minds of Soko and the other members of LiveFree. "It's really amazing and it provides great opportunities for people interested in all aspects of the film industry," said Kirsten Grimes, who drove up from Rockport, Mass., and was playing the part of Alexis' mother, Lydia.
With little time to rehearse, the term "action" signaling each new take had a whole new level of urgency and led to some improvising by the actors."Sometimes when you read over a script too much you kind of overanalyze the lines. It kind of puts you in a situation where you're forced to just go with it and you have the freedom to improvise," Grimes said. "It challenges you and it pushes you out of your comfort zone."
LiveFree production manager Samantha Pearl said the team had scouted more than a dozen locations to be used, depending on the genre. One was her mother's house, near Memorial High School, where 14-year-old Sofia Jeanes (Alexis) and Grimes did a scene at breakfast.
The living room was scripted for another scene, but Jason Sliviak, director of photography/cinematographer, moved the shoot outside because the table to be used wouldn't fit in the room.
"Sometimes what seems like the worst possible thing becomes the best," Sliviak said.
The scene featured a crime boss played by Andrew Gibson of Manchester barking to one of his henchmen about the abduction of the teen runner not going as planned. Instead of pounding the table in anger, Gibson did his rant in a deep Irish accent while strolling next to a string of grape vines in a neighbor's yard.
It took several takes, one of which was washed out by the sound of a jet flying overhead. The large cigar Gibson had lit at the beginning of the shoot was smoked down to a nub before the scene was finished.
"The desperation is there because you want to get it done. You want to get it filmed so these guys can get editing and get this in on time," Gibson said. "I think it's going smoothly so far. I think we're going to have a great product by the time it's done."
LiveFree was about halfway through the shooting early Saturday afternoon. Sunday was set aside for piecing together the scenes in time to turn in the finished work by the 7:30 p.m. deadline. Greenleaf, who was able to pop in on a few sets Saturday, said it is amazing to see various interpretations, which will be screened Wednesday at Cinemagic in Hooksett starting at 6:30 p.m.
"It's definitely fun to see what everybody's doing - to see the ideas and creativity that they're coming up with in such a short period of time," Greenleaf said.