Digital Marketing

Trials of a National Film Challenge Weekend

The National Film Challenge weekend is just that—a weekend of challenges, fun, chaos, and a few sleepless nights thrown in. SuperHouse Pictures, the crew I joined this year, has been creating short films in and around metro Detroit for the past eight years, with the National Film Challenge as its once-a-year filming event that pushes creativity into overdrive. Most of the year, SuperHouse Pictures and its creators are tediously reworking scripts and extending timelines to get everything they need to make their short films to look and feel exactly as they intended.
With the NFC weekend it’s the exact opposite. It presents filmmakers with a furious schedule and short timeline: produce a seven-minute film that you’re proud of and that viewers will enjoy in just 48 hours. This creates the need for some quick decisions, tough choices, and a lot of creative thinking and problem solving. The weekend kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday, when the teams are emailed these film requirements: a character, a line of dialog, prop and genre. Along with being a maximum of seven minutes long, these are the only requirements for a NFC film.
Working on the post-production team for SuperHouse Pictures, as an editor and a special effects artist, the short timeline forced me to work with what we had, with very little time for getting pick up shots. Our team had to creatively edit our story to make it work without losing the visual interest and the dramatic storyline. These types of challenges are great for pushing out-of-the-box thinking and creative problem solving. It forces you to make a decision on an edit, or an effect, run with the idea and work it out until it’s visually what you need and works well for the overall look and feel of the film.
Our challenge requirements this year?

  • Prop: light bulb.
  • Character: a bicyclist.
  • Line of dialogue: “It’s probably poisonous.”
  • Genre: Comedy or superhero.

It wasn’t difficult to use these elements in our film. In fact, we decided—adding more challenge to the challenge— to use a few more elements and style effects to make the film more interesting. We opted for the Superhero genre, and our heroine had the ability to see premonitions. We worked in a style that would resonate with those elements and be visually eye-catching yet have a little mystery to them. The post production team and Director of Photography played with the idea of using light time exposure photography as a style for each vision, and then they took the photos into post and made a surreal and vibrant stop motion effect, to visually represent each premonition. Using the RAW files from the camera, we were able to get about 15 different look and feels, and using them in After Effects, to create these visions into the future.
These effects proved to be a great visual in the overall theme of the film, worked impressively well with the story, and helped push the look and feel of the overall film in a direction that got some good remarks from the SuperHouse Pictures Team when it was premiered, Monday night, after mailing the final product to the National Film Challenge.

Our SuperHouse pictures entry, “Premonition,” will be up for viewing and voting later this month.
 

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