Saturday, June 20, 2009


Friday night's festivities began suddenly. Before our motley gang of film fiends had even convened at MCAD (the usual location for our 48 Hour Brain Trust, a place where harsh lights, a room with no windows, and a giant white board keeps us focused and not distracted by shiny objects), our film genre had been picked from the Sorting Hat.

"Musical or Western," Keith told me.

"You gotta be kidding me," I answered.

Okay, so I'm getting ahead of myself. First, for those unfamiliar, I should explain exactly what the 48 Hour Film Project is, and how the weekend works. On Friday night, a team member from each of the eighty-some teams draws a genre out of a hat. Then, three particular film elements are given, items that every team must incorporate into their film in some way, shape, or form. You then proceed to conceive, write, shoot, and edit a short film no longer than seven minutes long.

The items this year were:
Character: Kevin or Kathleen Schnabel (profession, Expert)
Prop: A sandwich
Line of Dialogue: "I hope they decide soon."

You see, this was the third time our team had participated in the competition. The first year, our science fiction gem Love Me For My Mind was turned in to the judges late. Seven minutes late, to be exact. I know. Tell me about it.

The next year, we changed our team name to 7 Minutes Late (the chip on our shoulder was mighty hefty), and we drew the genre 'Ghost Movie.' The end product that time was the film Open House, about a realtor selling a home that just happens to be occupied by the former owner's ghost. The film took home a couple of awards, which felt good. If you haven't seen the flick, here it is. If you wanna give it a look see, I'll wait for you. I've got time...

All right, welcome back. Hope you liked the film. So where was I? Oh yeah, we were arriving at MCAD with news that we were either going to take 'Musical/Western' as our genre, or we were going to discard it and take the 'Wild Card' option. It's risky, because once you ditch your original genre, you must take the 'Wild Card' option they give you. We all agreed that even though we would love to create a musical, or a Gary Cooper style stand-off, time was not on our side for either. The smart choice was to spin the wheel and take our chances with 'Wild Card.'

So, with Jason (our team's representative at the kick off) on the phone, we found out which genre we would have.

Keith heard it announced over the phone. We all stared at him as he incredulously said, "It's 'Ghost Movie,' isn't it?"

Yep. It was. 'Ghost Movie.' AGAIN!

What are the odds?! No seriously, I want someone to figure them out.

The next few hours were spent throwing out ideas and seeing which had any merit, and which ones were not worth pursuing. Our first idea? One word.

Sequel. Open House 2: Open Wider

We had many of the same actors, including our three leads. It seemed plausible. Until we started to realize that most of the humor would be entirely reliant on the fact that the viewer would have had to have seen Open House to know what the dickens is going on.

So, sequel was out. What else?

We entertained many ideas, from a haunted sandwich to ghost cops (this one even had a theme song: "Ghost cops! They're cops and they're ghosts!"). By midnight, our brains were fried, our ideas were thin, and our nerves were on edge. We were running on soda, Doritos, and pretzels.

And that was when inspiration struck.

And so, after cracking open fresh cans of caffeine, we scribbled down notes, plot points, and funny dialogue until the white board was filled. We called actors, we organized locations (the beauty was that much of our film would take place in or around producer Scott Bowman's home. The fact that Scott was editing the flick there as well was gravy), and I flipped open the laptop and starting writing the script.

Around 2AM, we transferred the camera and lighting gear to Scott's garage. Our group dispersed, and from Scott's basement, he and I put the finishing touches on the script.

I laid my head down on the couch around 4:30AM, and to the sounds of birds beginning to chirp outside, I rested until just before our 7AM call time.

To be continued,

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