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24 Hours of Insanity

03/27/2012

“Don’t hire anyone you wouldn’t want to run into in the hallway at three in the morning.” This is one of the lessons Tina Fey learned from Lorne Michaels while working at SNL.  I would put it “Don’t work with someone that you wouldn’t want to hear farting while you work at four in the morning”.  While participating in a 24 hour film festival, I truly understood why Tina Fey’s lesson was important. Working on something for 24 straight hours takes a toll on a lot of people. With the wrong combination of people it can be a stressful, tiring, “I will strangle this guy if he says another word” kind of situation….I’ve been there.  Luckily, our team truly gelled and our experience was not bad at all.

Over the weekend, I participated in Chicago Comedy Film Festival’s 1440 Film Frenzy with our team “D’s Nuts”.  The “1440” represents the amount of minutes we have to develop a short film. 1440 equals 24 hours….in case you didn’t want to do the math.  Basically, you wait for the suggestion from the festival and you have 24 hours to develop, shoot, and edit a complete short film within their parameters. Our theme was “Hollywood in Chicago” and the suggestion was “Sunset Strip”. At exactly 11:59pm on Friday we began brainstorming our script ideas and the race began.

Being in a group filled with comedy performers/writers has its advantages. It was definitely interesting watching as this group of writers bounced ideas off each other; starting from one concept and developing it into something completely different.  It wasn’t ill about 2:30am that we got our first shot off.  The scene we started with required me to do some really creative lighting. Since we were going with a “film noir” look (deep shadows, dark, contrasty) it was nice to implement different lighting techniques. Normally I’m not a “night” person. Since having the baby, I’ve been known to lie down around 8pm and sleep around 9pm. My body starts to shut down after 10pm, so this was going to require a lot of effort on my part. But in a weird twist, I was the one with the most energy.

I think creating these scenes gave me the energy and fuel I needed to continue through the night. Starting with images that took a lot of artistry really helped motivate me for the rest of the shoot. I WANTED to continue shooting. I WANTED to see how I did on the subsequent scenes. Getting a lot of positive feedback from my team also gave me that motivation to try to “top” myself. Not that I’m the greatest cinematographer but it was nice to feel that way.  It was around 5am that our scene was done. Our next scenes wouldn’t be for a few hours (we were waiting for daylight), so all the guys tried to get sleep. I was so amped up that I couldn’t sleep. I just started editing what little footage we had while everyone else was snoring. And I mean that as literally as I can….some of the guys were snoring LOUD.

It feels good to be energized by pure motivation and art. It’s a feeling that lasted for each scene we shot. I had fun creating and planning the next shots. There was one scene that comes to mind that I truly felt like a “seasoned cinematographer”. We had a “studio executive” character who orders a hit on a producer. He would be sitting in a chair talking on the phone with nothing else going on. I wanted the shot to have depth and character to lend to his persona. So I setup one light and put a tree in front of it to create many different shadow patterns. It was one of those things that really came together just right. I couldn’t ask for a better shot.

As our shooting came to a close it was time to enter post-production. Originally the plan was to share the editing responsibility, since we would all be walking zombies…but I was still on the “high” of the shoot. So I ended up sitting in front of the computer hacking away at our footage.  I’m definitely not the editing type but this time I was on a role.  I had a rush of energy. I couldn’t be stopped.  As I kept editing, some of the guys would randomly stand behind me to watch as I pieced our project together.  As the compliments came, the energy I had intensified. I was in the zone. I was on no sleep but felt like I could work for days.

When we finally finished our little short, we took a step back to just enjoy our creation. Awards and festivals didn’t matter then; we had something we were truly proud of. We created something that we were proud to show and it was all in the span of 24 hours. Through this whole process I learned something about myself.  I’m definitely an “attention whore”.

What I mean when I say “attention whore” is not that I turn tricks for payment of attention.  I crave attention. I think most artist do.  And I don’t mean attention like “all eyes on me” it’s more of genuine interest in your work. I think most artist feed off of the genuine interest others have in your work. It was that impressed look that my friends had as I was shooting that fueled me to continue. It was the interest in what I would create next in their scenes that gave me energy to go all night. It’s really something I’ve hardly ever experienced. Genuine interest is hard to come by in this field. It’s hard to get people to honestly “like” what you are doing…without being famous. Hopefully I can continue to garner more interest from people so it can fuel my motivation to excel in my career. Or I can always just force my kids to be my audience.

As an added bonus, I will attach our short to this page. I hope you enjoy.

ArtisticWC

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