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Filmmaking (Actually) Ep. 12 "What Should You (Actually) Know About the 48 Hour Film Project??"

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

Please note that we 1000% stand by the value that comes from speedy practice and moving through the full filmmaking process in 48 hours. We do not endorse the 48 Hour Film Project brand as such. It has been an honor to be heavily acknowledged by the 48 Hour Film Project with multiple winning films and runners-ups over the years, and we will always support and cheer on those teams who truly produce a film from start to finish within only 48 hours! We have seen some absolutely amazing films and support everyone who plays by the rules and levels up their skills each year.

Space Dream Productions encourages filmmakers to practice and practice and work to make films in a short period of time for all the reasons listed in the episode transcribed below!


Recorded during the early pandemic, join Koura as she discusses what you should know about that wild and sleepless weekend in which you and a team make a movie - write, shoot and edit it - in just 48 hours!! The 48 Hour Film Project is fun for amateurs and pros alike, but no matter your level of experience, it's good to know a few things before you are assigned your genre, character, prop, and line of listen now!

If you want to ask a question or just want to say hello, you can write to us at filmmakingactually(at)gmail(dot)com! You can also sign up for our mailing list through the "Contact Us" section of our website, for filmmaking tips and tricks, along with all the latest projects and updates on what we are working on.

For full access, you can also join our Patreon where we host exclusive virtual panels and workshops and share other behind-the-scenes content.

Below please find a transcript of this episode. Episodes are also available as audio-only podcasts here or with subtitles in this video:

What Should You (Actually) Know About the 48 Hour Film Project??

Hello! Welcome back to my podcast “Filmmaking Actually”

I just want to start by saying that I think it is more important to focus on art now more than ever. And you know that may sound weird but it is much healthier to work on creating something than just sitting scrolling through social media until you're basically sure we're all just gonna die. I really feel like now is a really good time to just sit down and try something you haven't had time for before. Or take an online class, or read a book, or watch a movie that you've been meaning to watch, maybe you'd like to look at doing a 48-Hour Film Project this year? Because this is a filmmaking podcast and that is a filmmaking contest that's what I'm going to be talking about, but I also just wanted to make a little plug for just being creative in general and finding ways to utilize this time that we now all have on our hands.

Okay first, so what exactly is the 48-Hour Film Project? While there are lots of sort of similar events, the official contest is a contest called the 48-Hour Film Project and it has events that happen throughout the year in cities literally all over the world. The winning film in each city goes on to compete at an international contest, and then the winners from there go on to the Cannes Film Festival. It's pretty cool but it also can just be really fun, and honestly I think that it's a fantastic exercise as a filmmaker. Oh okay so that doesn't exactly say what the 48-Hour Film Project is. The 48-Hour Film Project weekends are a 48 hour time period in which teams have to write, cast, produce and complete a five to seven minute short film that fits within specific criteria. Every single participating city has their own elements for specific things needed, but every team gets given a genre and the genre is different for each team. So they're all given a prop, a line of dialogue and a character that must be used in every single film, and then they get given a genre that's different team to team. So like, in the past we had the prop of an avocado, and the character was Mark the ‘Singer Songwriter’ and the line of dialogue was “I wish I could help you.” and that's how we made “Mark and the Martian”. Or we had the prop of a spice and the character Christina Brown Street the ‘Former Child Star’ and the line of dialogue “No way, absolutely no way” and we made “Sound Off.” So every town has their own specifications for the prop, line of dialogue and character, and then every team in the town gets their own genre.

Now, if you totally play by the rules (which is what Spacey and I advocate) the idea is that you write a script from these elements: The prop, the line of dialogue, the required character, all within the genre you're assigned. You shoot it and finish it and submit it before the deadline 48 hours later. I will say that it is really frustrating to be at the screening and watch films that clearly plan their script out of time. Like the key character randomly walks in and out of a scene and has nothing to do with anything. Or the prop comes and goes and the actor barely touched it, or worse they don't even touch it which means it's technically not a prop it's just set dressing (Because the actors have to physically pick it, up hold it, touch it, use it, for it to be a prop because that's how that works) or this storyline barely fits the genre of what they were supposed to be doing. So if you want to do it with a clean conscience, when you go into it, you don't even have an idea of anything ahead of time as far as your script goes. Spacey and I are actually really careful about this for a few reasons. Aside from the fact that it's a rule, we actually like getting the film done within the required time and it really forces us to go through the process of everything within the actual 48 hour time period.

Now my first episode of this podcast was all about how there's a set pattern of any film and every film goes through the same process overall just with various tweaks depending on different factors. (Size, scope etc.) But there's basically a flow chart that pretty much every film project follows. As always you're going to find that maybe my advice doesn't work for you, or it works for you sort of, or there's a better way of doing it that makes more sense for you, or maybe how you do it just works better overall. Honestly all I care about is that you're successfully making films, and if trying something just shows you what doesn't work for you and helps you find what does, that's awesome! This is what has worked for us so far, and maybe years from now I'll come back with a revision.

But for now to make a 48-Hour film you actually do have to go through um, pretty much every single step of that flowchart in one way or another. And you have to do it in 48 hours. Having that time restraint really forces you to go through the steps quickly and not spend forever agonizing over a detail that you otherwise would spend forever on if you had the chance. I know we would. Also practicing anything makes you more competent at it, and doing things quickly helps you get better at doing them at a normal pace. I know that I've become way more dexterous as a filmmaker since I started producing 48-Hour Film Projects. I'm not saying that as an ad for the 48-Hour Film people, don't know me, I'm just talking to help the filmmakers who want to try it. And I mean honestly you don't even need to do a 48-Hour Film Project as a registered 48-Hour thing to practice, you can just go make a film in 48 hours on your own steam. But I don't know. Having the screening at the end where you get to watch each other's films, that's kind of fun too.

Okay so let's say you're actually going to do it for real, you're not going to cheat and you're going to come out at 100 by the rules. There are a few things that you're allowed to prep ahead of time like locations and cast and crew and all that. I will add another thing, this is really good practice at contracts! If you didn't hear my last episode, contracts are very important. You can listen to that episode. In the 48 hours you also have to have everyone sign release forms and get location agreements and music releases and all of that stuff. So yeah that's really good practice too. Because you're not allowed to plan as far as what the story is that you're gonna tell, your characters, any of that, what you can do ahead of time (And what we recommend doing) is reaching out to potential cast and crew and making sure they're available on your shoe weekend. Because you don't know how things are gonna go. You may say we're only filming on Saturday but maybe you need them sooner, maybe it goes later. You probably want to put them down for Friday night through Sunday just in case.

For the very first one that we ever shot, not that we were a part of, but where it was like our team, our lead actress had to leave and it was really rushed at the end. So secure your locations, cast, crew, you can even line up music, voice over actors, VFX people, audio mixers, editors, literally your whole production line. And have them sign the release ahead of time! You may have to turn it in within the 48 hours, but they are allowed to sign it early. So if you have all the releases signed it's a lot less of a hassle trying to finish your film while you're chasing up paperwork. It is so much smoother to have it all figured out ahead of time and everything's signed, you've got it and all you're doing is either uploading the file or printing them and putting it in an envelope. Like, so much better than having to freak out because you can't reach somebody and you really need them to sign the stupid form. It's not stupid it's important. Okay so, Yeah. Best feeling is going into the weekend and all of your paperwork is done! Well all the paperwork you can do.

Also, the 48-Hour Film project is volunteer only. So while you can buy props and give people meals and all that stuff, you can't actually hire anyone to work on the project. I actually like that because it evens out the playing field and it means that someone can't just like, come in with millions of dollars and hire Taika Waititi when they get dark comedy for their genre! (I mean that would be awesome but it kind of isn't fair to the rest of us who aren't Taika Waititi) Um, so yeah, so this is how Spacey and I do it. First we usually travel to a town we want to work in and we just search online for when their event is. You register online you pay an entry fee ahead of time, and if you register early you can actually save some cash and sometimes you get perks like extra screening tickets or a free award ticket or stuff like that.

So we actually plan our projects in January if we can, and then we have them on our calendar and those weekends are marked off for when it looks like they're gonna be. As soon as we're a few weeks out from a 48-Hour Film Project we reach out to that community either via our network or through social media. A lot of times that local town also has meetups and stuff like that, so every 48-Hour Film Project city has a local producer that is the producer of the event in that town. And they coordinate stuff like, there's meet and greets ahead of time, there's like a launch party there's a bunch of really awesome events kind of leading up to the actual weekend where you can meet people and connect with them. So if you're not like me and Spacey bouncing all over the country all the time, you can pick a city that is close to you and you just go to it and get to go to all the events leading up to it and all of that stuff.

So once we start confirming people, I have a little survey that I send out to everyone about a week in advance. I ask them if they're interested in being a part of the project, I confirm that they're available for the dates, I also ask what role they would like to play, do they want to be cast or crew or both? And I have them list their top three positions that would be like their top picks. Like, I want to be an actress if I can't be an actress I want to be wardrobe, if I can't be wardrobe I want to be hair and makeup. You know whatever. I also ask what roles (if any) they would be willing to do if we really needed someone. So like maybe it isn't their top three but they'd be willing and able to do it. Like maybe they're willing to set up craft services even though they really don't want to but they'll take one for the team. Then, and this question is probably one of the most important questions, I ask for their skill sets. So like, what random things can they do? And it could be anything from climbing trees, to braiding hair, whistling, playing an instrument, speaking another language, uh tap dancing, Tai Chi, any... anything! This is really really vital and helpful to know later. I also ask them if there's anything they're unwilling to do. This is really important because you don't want to cast someone in a scene that they are not comfortable with, and it's not something that they would do, and now you're screwed because you don't have time to rewrite the whole script. And also I feel like it's respectful to the people who are volunteering for you to take into account their comfort levels and not force them into uncomfortable situations. So we ask them if there's anything that they would rather not do.

Another thing that is really important to ask is allergies. Especially if you're going to be feeding people on set you don't want to have someone come on. They're like, allergic to dairy and allergic to wheat and you're serving grilled cheese sandwiches and that's all you get! So that's just nice to be able to accommodate everybody, but you also don't want someone to have a really bad allergy attack because it's not like if somebody has to go to the hospital you can just go back and shoot later because you will have run out of time. Plus you don't want to send your crew to the hospital or your cast. So that's important, and then also if someone's allergic to birds and then the house that you're filming at the owner has a pet bird. Now your actress’s eyes are all poofy and they can't breathe and they need to take their allergy medicine and wait again. It's so easy to just say “Hey does anyone have any allergies?” and then they tell you and then you put it on a spreadsheet. And there you go. And then the last thing I ask is, “Is there anything else we should know or take into consideration?” just because you never know, and sometimes people will volunteer the most random useful information, and you're like “Oh my gosh I'm so glad they told me that!” So yeah you just ask. That's the survey that I use, obviously you can write whatever you think is good for you but that's what we've found works for us.

All of that information then goes onto a spreadsheet and I sort it by cast and crew. Okay I'm gonna back up a second you're probably going “Oh my goodness woman that is so much work why are you doing this?” Because, and I'm going to say this through all of my podcasts: Proper prep makes shoots so much smoother. Yeah it is a lot of work. Filmmaking is a lot of work! It's fun and it's glamorous and it's glitzy and you get to go to fancy premieres and there's all that stuff, but it is so much work to get there. And if you do the work ahead of time, then it's things that have already been taken care of and they're not going to trip you up when for something like a 48-Hour Film Project you have less than 48 hours left to put together an entire film that I refuse to cheat at accomplishing! Again, prep is where it's at. And if you don't want to do it, partner with a really good producer who's got your back and who will do all of this work to make your shoot super smooth. So I've got my grid, it's sorted by cast possibles and crew possibles. I've got notes as to everyone's skill sets, I've got diet notes, allergy notes, extra notes, it's all there. I usually thank the people for their survey and then I get them to sign the release and I don't put them down as confirmed until I have the release form back. That's very important. Sometimes someone will say “Hey can I bring it with me to set?” if I have no other choice I'll say yes. We usually print out extra copies to bring with us to set, and then I just have a list of who we're missing and then my assistant helps get those signed.

I also start to get music releases for songs. This is actually something Spacey usually takes care of, but sometimes a musician has an amazing catalog and they're willing to just give us an open agreement. Like it's a blank form that they sign and then we just fill in the songs we want. But musicians don't do that unless you totally trust the person you're giving it to, and producers don't be jerks and demand that from musicians who aren't comfortable with that situation. So if they say no just either pick specific songs to be released or just move on. We also get location releases signed from any of the possible locations we could film in. So let's say we're not sure what, we don't know what genre we're getting, we don't know what story we're going to write yet, and we have access to a coffee shop and a house, and a car mechanic place, and a tattoo parlor. I would get a release signed from every single one of those people even if we're not going to use them all, then at least we have it. Kind of like the same reason why we get releases from a bunch of different musicians. Maybe someone's a classical musician and there's a song of theirs we love, we'll get that song released. Maybe there's a hip-hop artist that is amazing. We'll get that song released, just so we have it ready for us. Also sometimes there are like music platforms that sponsor the 48-Hour Film Project, and they'll give you a discount code that's only good that weekend to use for your film. Spacey and I also have a stash of props and costume items and makeup and all sorts of stuff that we've kind of collected over the years and we'll usually put together a suitcase of key stuff that could be useful and that we bring with us when we pack.

So we know the genres are: There's a Period Piece, there's Science Fiction, there's Action Adventure, Coming of Age, a Family film, a Holiday film, um I don't remember what all the other genres are. They're listed on the 48-Hour website. So maybe we'll bring an American flag and Christmas lights, and a Menorah, and Valentine's hearts. But we'll put things together that could fit a possible genre so that we have those items to hand. And we can also use them to help spark ideas for the story once we know what we're doing.

The day before the event, so Thursday or Friday day itself, we stack up on craft services. So basically snacks for the set and food for meals, we line up delivery in advance if we're doing that. We usually get bagels and coffee and fruit for breakfast, and then we'll do sandwiches and chips and veggies for lunch, or we'll have fruit snacks and more chips and pretzels and juice and water and stuff whatever just during the day for snacks. All of that can be prepared ahead of time. And if you have someone helping as a production assistant that's something they can help with too. That Friday night when the event launches we head down to the launch event. Get assigned our genre, character, prop, line of dialogue and we immediately start spit-balling ideas! It's always fun for us to try and make the prop a featured item or the required character a lead or majorly supporting character, or the line of dialogue like a turning point for the film. It's particularly a point of pride for us to be able to really clearly work our film around the required elements, as a surefire way of saying hey we actually did just make this movie we did not have anything in mind when we walked in. Sometimes it also just helps to write the script to lean into that because we're writing out of the air.

So like for example maybe the genre is Action Adventure, and the character is a Mail Carrier named either Frederick or Frederick. Male or Female. And the prop is a toothbrush, and the line of dialogue is “I'm not gonna eat off that plate!” I don't know, just something random. Um, so I'm going with that. This is where the spreadsheet is your best friend. So the first thing to do is look over all the different actors that you have access to and what their skill sets are. This also can include crew members who said they were willing to act and also cast that's willing to be crew, because it may be a better fit even if somebody's an actor and they really want to act. It may be a better fit for your story to pull one of the crew members who is willing to act and have them because of their skill sets, versus putting in an actor who maybe wouldn't carry the story as well or who can't do what you need etc. Obviously people are volunteering, try to give them the jobs they want, but the whole point is to make an awesome film. For example one film we had a sound guy who had a part in a couple of scenes towards the end, so he ran sound the whole time and then a PA helped out for sound for the last few scenes and he was talent.

So for this one let's say I have three young girls who can sing and dance, I've got a black belt who also has a dog, and I've got a woman who's a little older and who speaks better French than English. Alright so story. Maybe the black belt is a Mail Carrier who is actually working for the French lady as a spy. And maybe these young girls have an after-school dog washing business? And they're going to wash his dog? And they're going to use the toothbrush to scrub the dog's nails, but something happens and they get caught up in the French woman's scheme? They have to win a dance competition in order to survive! And maybe the trophy is a silver plate, and one of the girls says “I'm not gonna eat off that plate!” when they win! I don't know, I just made it up so.

The way to write any script is with a log line basic synopsis. And for this I just used what we have access to in order to write the story and fit it in the genre. And you can literally go in any direction, that's one of the fun things about the 48-Hour, is watching all of the films afterwards and seeing how many different directions Frederick the Mailman and “I won't eat off that, but I'm not gonna eat off that plate!” is gonna go in all of these different films. So we always try to use all of the people who ask to be part of the project as actors, but sometimes it can get overwhelming trying to write them all in. Be sure to hit the points of requirement that if you don't hit you're disqualified, and then write the film from there. Usually you're able to fit people in even if it's just little parts along the way.

All right it's Friday night, we have our log line, we have to actually write this script, it has to be five to seven minutes long. Spacey and I usually go back and forth on the story, and whoever's directing the city's project gets to have final say on how the story goes. So like, I may have an idea, he may have an idea, I may have an idea, he may not like that idea. If he's directing we will drop that idea and go in a different direction, and if I'm directing I get to say “Tough it's my movie.” Um, we usually get it pretty roughed in, sometimes we get stuck, that's where we call friends or my parents on the phone for ideas because they're fantastic writers. And let's be real, writing a full short film script in a few hours is very hard! It's not something that you're just gonna do and like “Oh ho! Here it is! Write a film in five minutes!” but if you have the right team of collaborators, and you're kind of willing to just go for it, it can be really exhilarating!

So we work on the script usually pretty much all of Friday night. And what Spacey and I do is we'll usually tag team it. So like, we'll have the outline, one of us will write it, and then the other one will sleep, and then we'll switch and the other one will polish it while the other one sleeps. So we do get some sleep, and then as soon as the film is done we email it to everyone! We tell them who's cast and what role, they start learning their lines and they start arriving to set. Usually we set call time around sunrise, sometimes a little after sunrise. And like I said we usually try to have someone get coffee or breakfast of some kind just so people have something to be eating as they get there. And then also because it's really early in the morning, and it helps to have a little bit of extra sleep knowing you don't gotta stop and get breakfast on the way. Also when we get to set, anyone who had issues signing the release, that's where we get them. Again, in a perfect world, get those forms ahead of time. What's worked for us when we've had to, is my assistant prints out extra copies and then she'll have a copy of the grid who signed, who still needs them, and she'll make sure that we get that all collected up no matter what. This is probably a good place to mention having a designated person for the forms who's not the director or the DP (the director of photography) is a really good idea just for the record. It can be very overwhelming trying to keep track of all of these moving parts.

Usually while we're driving to the location, like if we're not filming where we're staying, or if we are filming where we're staying (Just while everyone's eating breakfast) I will take out a print out of the script and I'll write a shot list in the margins of the script. Just like specific shots that I know I want to get for every scene. A couple times I've had enough time to make like, an actual shot list. If Spacey is directing, usually I'll help make a spreadsheet for him, like I'll type while he's driving or something like that. But I don't think we've ever had more than a very rough shot list at most, and there's definitely been times where we're kind of shot listing the scene as we're filming. Not the greatest but you know, got 48 hours. And that works for us because he or I or both of us have shot our last three 48-Hour films, so because we're the writers and one of us is directing, or both of us are directing, and we're us so like, we just, it usually works for us, but do what works best for you.

If I have a chance I try and outline the day and make a very rough schedule. Sometimes we just shoot the script in sequence, sometimes we don't just for normal reasons. Location availability things like that. Um, when we did “Sound Off” the film ends in a dance routine. So I actually worked with one of our dancers, and I choreographed with her while Spacey was directing and shooting other scenes. And then the girls worked on the dance together, and we went out and shot it last. So that's just a way that you can kind of like tag team stuff also, and it's a good way of knowing who's good at what. You know, you can send off your art department to dress one area while you're filming somewhere else. It's just like, it literally is everything you have to do to make a movie normally, really really really quickly! Just really really really really fast!

So now, the second we are done filming, we yell “That's a wrap!” don't want to jinx anything, and we start to edit! For this we organize the footage by the scene, usually one of us will start to edit while the other one takes a nap. We go back and forth a little bit between the two of us, that's what's been successful for us, as one of us starts the other one polishes. And this is another place where you can't spend forever making artistic choices. Um, it does help to have that shot list or even a storyboard done ahead of time, so you can just kind of drop it all in. But you still need to finesse how all the shots fit together. We've also done films where there was an original song written, and Spacey recorded it while we were filming and then used it in the edit.

We've also done stuff where we have VFX in the film. We've gotten science fiction twice! If we get science fiction again…. Um, but yeah and we've got an amazing VFX artist that we work with but he is never where we are. The first year I think he was actually in Canada. We were sending the files across international lines, and he was doing them super fast and sending them back to us. And then our dialogue editor lives in the Bay area in California, so we were sending him our dialogue cuts. One thing that helps speed it up is if you lock the section of the film that has especially hard dialogue or the background noise is a little rough, if you can lock that part of the film first. (I mean ideally you want to lock your edit from start to finish because you want to watch it from start to finish and make sure the pacing is good and everything falls where it should.) But you're on a super tight timeline! If you have to, just lock the pieces that you need locked first and then get the VFX done, get the dialog fixed, anything you need like that. If we are able to get the whole thing locked first, we'll send that off and then we'll work on the color correction or some other part.

Also spending time on the sound, I mean it's important for any film but if you have the time for a 48-Hour Film Project it's really rough on the audience to have like, levels in your film be inconsistent. So like you can't hear the character one second and all of a sudden there's like this sound coming in the back of another character. If you have time, (I mean try and just record clean audio) but if you have time smooth it all out, balance the levels best you can. It's... yeah, if you have time it's definitely it helps. If we can get it all locked and everything's done and all that's left is things other people are working on, we'll take a nap or one of us will take a nap. It also helps to have someone write out the credits so the editor can just copy paste them in. For one film we literally just wrote something like “We're leaving this title card here in case we don't have time to do the credits you all rocked!” and then that was what ended up being the credits because we totally ran out of time. You want to prioritize finishing your actual film, they're not going to judge you because you did or didn't type out fancy three-dimensional animated crazy credits. They care about the five to seven minute film. I think that was actually the time we did two 48-Hour films in one weekend. Like, we completed two projects within one 48-Hour... Anyway um so yeah we ran out of time.

There's also technical specs as far as the total run time. Like not just your film itself, but they want an opening sequence, they want a certain amount of space of a blank black screen, they want information shown on the screen before the film starts, the credits are only allowed to be so long. So there's a bunch of stuff but it's all on the 48-Hour website and you get given all the instructions when you sign up and when you launch and all of that stuff. Sometimes we'll set that up first and then edit. We'll put a black bar on the timeline just to block off those first five seconds or whatever it is, we'll put in the opening title putting all that stuff. Just make sure that if your film is going to be the full seven minutes, which is the longest they allow, that you account for the opening in your total run time when you're looking at your timeline so that you don't go too far over and so that you don't cut yourself short either. Because you are allowed the whole run time for your actual film and you don't want to not count space on your timeline that you allocated to the opening sequence when that could be more of your film. Yeah, just pay attention to what you're doing, it's really hard when you're exhausted. Try to leapfrog it best you can or better yet, if you have somebody who's an editor that you work with, have them just be on a normal sleep schedule and they can edit while you're sleeping.

There also is a wrap form (Because there wasn't enough paperwork already) and that you need to fill out a bunch of other paperwork that has to get done in order to be qualified for the contest. Not only do you have to round up all the release forms and turn them in, some cities have you do it electronically, some cities need it on hard copy, some cities it's a mix of both where there's a couple forms that are online, a couple forms that are hard copy, all of this stuff has to be done within that 48 hours and it's not things you can do ahead of time. It's like “What did you run into? What type of film did you make? What type of camera did you use? Is there anything specific that the judges should know about your entry?” um, “Was your team led by women? Were there differently abled cast and crew members? Is there people on your team that are Veterans?” you know, there's all of these different things that they ask you. But that needs to get filled out so usually one of us will do it while the other one is working on whatever needs to get done on the edit.

Uh yeah, and then that's it! Once the film is locked we export it. We've exported it directly to a flash drive to save time. If you can, try and give yourself enough time to watch it before you turn it in. I don't know if we've ever had time for that, but if you can it does help. I think once, once we had time to watch it and we had to fix something, and we exported... Oh I will say this: If you've already exported a copy of your film, do not overwrite that file! Because if anything goes wrong and your second copy doesn't work or something happens at least you've got the backup. Sometimes grabbing a couple extra flash drives helps so you just have those in case. But yeah I think one time we had enough time to actually re-export it, but it cut very very very close to the wire. And then make sure you also account for travel time because it has to be actually in the city producer's hand at the exact deadline and they have no mercy if you are 100th of a second late you're disqualified. They'll still screen the film and you're still eligible for like, Audience Choice Awards, but you're not qualified for the competition. To be short a second is just so sad! So try and like, work backwards. If you're driving to the drop off point, if you can bring your laptop to the drop-off point and work there, whatever you need to do so that you know you're going to get it turned in on time.

Yeah and that's it! I personally usually crash for about a week after doing these, but we get more efficient each time and it really helps when we're going through the process on a longer film or on a film that we have more time for. Because we've done all the steps under pressure. It just becomes something that's like drilled into us with a ton of practice, a lot of enforced speed, and now when we're slowing down the process to a normal pace, it is a lot easier because it's not as hard as a 48-Hour project. And I will say yeah, you totally can cheat, but don't do that! I mean aside from the fact that it's just wrong, but winning doesn't feel as good first of all. And it is so obvious when a film was pre-planned. Like even if people just roughly figured out the story or had a basic idea and they tweaked it, it's really really obvious when we're watching the films that screen afterwards. And it just makes the other filmmakers who can tell you cheated know that you're a lousy cheat. And it sucks because the whole point of the competition is can you actually do this? What's the point of winning something you didn't actually do? I don't know. Whatever, people have their own moral standards. I personally think the sense of accomplishment of knowing that you straight up made an entire film in 48 hours is pretty freaking cool!

And we've seen, we've definitely seen some films. I mean, we've made some films where you're like “Wow that just happened!” But we did it in 48 hours! And of course it was a hot mess because, I mean the first one we did involved robots and androids and so much VFX. It was a Sci-Fi film that like, this girl's neck cracked open and you could see her wiring, and it was just, we went, yeah. That was, that was crazy. And then the time that we did two projects in one 48 hour time period. Those you know, not my best work, but we made two movies in 48 hours from scratch and that team was amazing! I'm so proud of everybody who did that with us. So, it brings an amazing sense of accomplishment when you do it and I know I'm kind of getting a little soapbox-y right now. But I will say reverse-wise, we once got feedback from a judge that said that our film didn't look like it could have been made in only 48 hours so they basically disqualified us. Which was really frustrating at the time because we busted our butts on that film and everybody worked so hard! But now we just roll our eyes because we know how hard we worked and we take it as a compliment that the film was basically too good for them. So you know there's that.

But there's something to be said for actually doing it, doing it right, knowing that you did it. It's a really cool feeling. This is how we do it. I think you can do it. Um, usually within a few weeks there's a screening event where you get to watch all of the films and that's always a lot of fun. Because for the most part it's awesome to see how everyone takes the same required elements and then comes up with these totally different stories! And they're usually a ton of fun to watch especially watching that one specific character, um like we had that Christina Brown Street in one, and then seeing all of these different ‘Former Child Stars’ going through all of these different scenarios it just was fun. It was really fun to watch. And then about a week or so later there are awards announced and then you get to go to a fun awards ceremony, and then whoever wins that town goes to something called Filmpalooza, and then the winner of there goes on, and blah blah.

And that's it! That's the gist of the 48-Hour Film Project and how to actually make a film in 48 hours without being lame and cheating. But it is a fantastic exercise for all filmmakers and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to be a professional filmmaker or even someone who is a professional filmmaker. I mean it's really fantastic practice and it totally puts you through the ringer. All right, that's really it! Let me know if you have any questions on anything we covered here. You can comment on... I'm gonna say comment below, but depending on what platform you're listening to this on, it may be comment above, or comment right here. You can like, subscribe, share, tell your friends, all that great stuff. Everyone's got some extra time on their hands right now so give them a podcast to listen to. But no really, the world needs art right now and people need to stay busy. I know it's kind of controversial to say, but come on. Sitting in front of your computer on social media is not good for anyone's mental health even on a good day. But especially not now. So wash your hands, self-isolate, leave some toilet paper on the shelves for everyone else, and uh, yeah get out there and make some art! All right, that's it. Bye!


You've been listening to “Filmmaking Actually” with Koura Linda, Space Dream Productions podcast. Subscribe to us on any or all the podcast platforms, but we especially recommend our sponsor Anchor. If you like what you hear leave us five star ratings and positive reviews on iTunes and Stitcher, it helps more listeners like you discover the show. But the best thing you can do if you really like the show, is tell a friend. Want to leave a comment or ask a question? Email at filmmakingactually(at) This is Spacey speaking and if you washed your hands to the tune of this episode you would wash your hands for over 36 minutes. And we'll see you next time.


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