This weekend I took part in Shropshire's first ever 48 hour film challenge, organised by the good folks at Shropshire Media Network & Appletree Theatre and Film Company. I heard about it from my good buddies Richard Foot and Arron Fowler and we decided we were long overdue to do some work together so entered as a team (imaginatively titled ‘R&A&E’ – hey, they never warned us we needed a team name!)
*NOTE* – if you’re just here to see the film, I’m going to be rambling on for a while here… scroll down to the bottom of this post to get the goods!
Anyway, back to ‘the making of’… On Friday night Richard and Arron headed down to the Ludlow Brewing Company visitor centre to collect the brief, which gave us a line of dialogue and a prop that had to be used in the film; the film could also be no more than 5 minutes long. Our line of dialogue was ‘could you please confirm your exact time of departure?’ and our prop was a map. We weren’t particularly inspired by either of these, envisaging Sunday’s screening to be an evening of films set in train stations and tube stops (although happily all the teams proved more imaginative than that), and Arron suggested that we try and subvert this rather vapid criteria. The first 24 hours involved meeting up at the Creative Studio in Shrewsbury (The base of operations for Richard and his textile whiz sister, Helen Foot – one of her scarves is featured in the film!) to bandy around ideas, followed by a rather indulgent trip back to my home in Coventry so that I could get the outfit I needed for my part (when it turned out my somewhat rusty acting skills were going to be needed), and we ended up having a lovely lunch that my other half Michael kindly put on for us. Hey there are 48 hours right? Plenty of time!
We had the beginnings of an idea when I mused upon the possibility of using the most final meaning of the word departure, liking the thought of portraying something mysterious and climactic that humanity has speculated over for millennia as just another banal, bureaucratic process… and asking whether the word ‘map’ meant anything in any other language. After Richard went to work on Google Translate we found that in Dutch, map meant ‘folder’ or ‘directory’. So there was that. After everyone tossed in some more thoughts and we nailed down our idea, I whipped up a script, Arron collected the props, Richard picked up his suit, and we were good to go.
After some discussion on where best to shoot – given the bonus of having a beautiful sunny day and long summer daylight hours to play with – we decided to keep it close and go for Lyth Hill, a beauty spot which we are fortunate to have just a few miles from the town and easy enough to get back to should we need to reshoot anything. At this point it was 6pm, so the entirety of our shooting and editing ended up taking place in the last 24 hours (or 23, since we needed an hour to get back to Ludlow for the screening). We laugh in the face of impending deadlines!
We had a hoot shooting the footage, since it turned out that Richard has an unexpectedly impressive repertoire of facial expressions; had he been born in another time, I’m sure he would have been a star of the silent comedy era. In a dramatic race against fading light and bitey insects, we managed to get all of our footage shot before the day was out, concluding with the last scene at Richard’s house (in which we spent a ridiculous amount of time and effort getting the perfect overhead shot of a microwave lasagne, but I think you’ll agree it was worth it). We got back to the studio, backed up the footage, and crawled home for some sleep; or in my case, crawled back to my parents house for a post-midnight dinner and a couple of hours of laughing at animals-doing-silly-things videos online with my mum instead of sensibly going straight to bed – happens to us all, right?
Sunday: by the time I had dragged myself into the studio Arron reported that the footage was all fine and no reshoots were needed – hurrah! Then we spent the day editing, with a bit of time devoted to mulling over fonts (so many pretty ones out there for free, you can spend hours…) We had a stroke of luck with the soundtrack, which could have potentially been very time-consuming if we’d had to compose something ourselves or enlist someone else to do it. Our friend Duncan Knowles gave Arron a couple of guitar instrumentals he had lying around that he thought might work, and brilliantly they were a perfect fit for the film. I’m not sure if Duncan has a website (if so I’ll post the link here later), but if anyone likes what they hear and want to know more I’m happy to put people in touch.
After a few issues with exporting we just about managed to rattle the film off in time (giving us the first hints of stress in what had been a remarkably stress-free weekend, in spite of the lack of sleep for all concerned), and pegged it down the A49 to Ludlow (experiencing the usual slow driver and sheep-in-road hold ups). Thankfully we all made it for the 6pm screening, and I was pleasantly surprised that all the films were really good and that the teams had all gone for very different takes on the brief – there wasn’t one of them I didn’t enjoy and I highly recommend checking them out.
So without further ado, here’s the film we busted our asses over – enjoy!