Interview with Amanda Hirsch

This is the third and final interview in our series talking with filmmakers who led teams in 48HFP-DC 2009. In our first two interviews we talked with Jasmine Bulin, a first time participant and Ishu Krishna, a long-time veteran. Today we bring you an interview with Amanda Hirsch of CreativeDC, who entered her team for the second time this year.

Amanda Hirsch, 48HFP-DC Team Leader

Amanda Hirsch, 48HFP-DC Team Leader

Still Indie: Amanda, how did you get involved in the 48 Hour Film Project?

Amanda Hirsch: I perform with Washington Improv Theater (WIT), and they’ve been participating in the 48 hour film project for years. The WIT community has gotten so big, though, that it doesn’t make sense for everyone to work on one film anymore, so last year, a bunch of us decided to give it a go on our own, and we had a blast, so we did it again this year.

SI: What genre were you hoping for and which one did your team draw?

AH: We were hoping for anything but “mockumentary”, and we drew “mockumentary” :) As improvisors we just thought that was low hanging fruit (we play with that style of storytelling a lot on stage), and wanted to challenge ourselves to stretch a bit more. So we put it back and ended up with “surprise ending,” which was the only other genre we really didn’t want — so it goes.

SI: What story did you tell?

AH: “Happy Hour” is about a lonely, lonely guy who so longs for friendship that he convinces himself he’s friends with complete strangers, creating elaborate back-stories in his head. The “surprise” is that for the whole movie, you think these people are really his friends, and then you realize they don’t know him from Adam. We tried to play with tone to underscore the element of surprise — you think it’s an upbeat episode of Friends, and then it gets really depressing and creepy really fast (we hope).

Production Still from "Happy Hour"

Production Still from "Happy Hour"

SI: What was the biggest challenge your team faced?

AH: It’s hard to assess how effective a surprise ending is when you’ve been so close to writing, shooting and editing the “surprise.” When we watched the first rough cut, our hearts sank – the surprise didn’t have any impact. We realized it was because there wasn’t enough of a tonal shift, so we redid the voiceover. When we watched again, we all had this moment of, “Ohh, wow, that was CREEPY.” So we were pretty sure it worked. But I’ve seen it 15 or 20 times now and I just have no idea if it works or not – I can’t tell! I need some distance.

SI: What was the best moment of the weekend?

AH: There were a lot of them – having everyone get really excited and on the same page about the story on Friday night was really cool. Then getting to see our editor, Jon Reiling, work his magic – seeing how he wove in b-roll and music to really bring the story to life on-screen. And he and our other director of photography, Bryce Whittaker, got some really cool shots looking in through the window of the bar where we shot, which were pivotal to conveying this notion of a stranger looking in on something he doesn’t have, and coveting it.

SI: Will you be participating again next year?

AH: Abso-fucking-lutely!

That’s the spirit! Thanks for taking time to answer our questions Amanda and keep up the great work!  If you still think DC is just a mainstream city, stop by Amanda’s site at CreativeDC.org and find out what you’ve been missing.  If you missed our first two segments this weekend, check out Jasmine’s perspective as a first-time participant and our interview with 48HFP veteran Ishu Krishna. If you’ve got questions for Amanda’s team, leave them in the comments section below.

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Interview with Ishu Krishna

Today is our second in a series of three interviews with team leaders from last weekend’s 48 Hour Film Project in DC.  Yesterday we talked with Jasmine Bulin, a first time 48HFP participant, and today we bring you an interview with a old hand at the 48HFP game, Ishu Krishna.

[Interview edited for clarity.]

Still Indie: Ishu, how did you first get involved in the 48 Hour Film Project?

Ishu Krishna: Five years ago my friend Courtney Davis was in a 48 Hour Film and I went to watch it.  I was so impressed that I decided to do one myself the following year.  I loved the experience so much that I started doing it every year.  The last two years I did both DC and Baltimore.

SI: What genre were you hoping for this year and which one did your team draw?

IK: We were hoping for Thriller, Romance, Mockumentary, or Superhero.  We drew Thriller.

Ishu Krishna, 48HFP-DC Team Leader

Ishu Krishna, 48HFP-DC Team Leader

SI: That’s a fortunate turn of events.  What story did you tell?
IK: A man wakes up after a party and has blacked out of the events from the night before.  Things that people say and things he finds triggers memories of the night before.  He doesn’t remember what the lady he met looks like, so each vignette in the flashback is played by another woman.  Eventually he regains memory of what happened the night before, and the ending is very thrilling.

SI: During filming, what was the biggest challenge your team faced?

IK: An ambitious shoot schedule with 4 locations all over Virginia and DC.  During the export of the edit we started downconverting to Standard-Definition from High-Definition as per regulations listed on the website.  After we finished it ended up being 10gb.  Too big for a DVD.  I quickly tried to burn it onto a dvd and it burned in like 3 minutes. I am pretty sure I burned the wrong thing.

After we got there we found out that 48HFP-DC accepts HD entries.  We would have been able to view the product to see if it output correctly, had we known.  They also said no one was allowed to render in line.  We had rendered hours ago, and were exporting in the Subway a couple of doors down.  Other people were exporting in line.  If only we had done that too, we would have had more time to spare.  If by a miracle, my DVD is good, we’ll be on time.  Just in case it’s wrong, I dropped off a backup with Nicole, the festival editor, to be counted as a late film.   If it is a late entry, we are hoping for the Audience Award and to make it to the “Best-Of”.

SI: What was your favorite part of the weekend?

IK: The final product and the synergy of the group.  Everyone just worked really well together.  The concept came together pretty quickly.  We didn’t spend a lot of time talking about many ideas.  We picked one and went with it.

SI: Will you be participating again next year?

IK: Why yes of course!  It was a very fun experience and I love doing something artsy in DC, since we lack that scene here.  The people are great and the reward is even better: A finished film.  We don’t have to sit around with our friends just talking about making a movie.  We actually get to make one.
 
Thanks Ishu for sharing your experience with our readers and best of luck making it to the “Best-Of”!   Check out videos from Ishu’s team Writing Meeting on YouTube. Please send us your questions for Ishu or her team in the comment section below.

If you missed yesterday’s interview, check out Jasmine’s perspective as a first-time participant. Check back tomorrow to read our interview with a team leader, and local arts-scene maven, who entered her team for the second time this year.

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Interview with Jasmine Bulin

Last weekend was the 48 Hour Film Project in DC.  This weekend we’re bringing you interviews from several team leaders who participated last weekend.  Our first interview is with first time 48 Hour participant Jasmine Bulin.

Jasmine Bulin

Jasmine Bulin, 48HFP-DC "Hugs Productions" Team Leader

Still Indie: So, how did you get involved in the 48 Hour Film Project?

Jasmine Bulin: I heard about the project about three years ago and have been pining to do it ever since. Finally this year I signed myself up as a team leader and just hoped I could get my friends to help me out in time.

SI: What genre were you hoping for and which one did your team draw?

JB: I was crossing my fingers for “buddy film” or “mockumentary.”  Since our team’s mission was to have a good time during the 48 hours, not to win, we were hoping for a genre we could easily inject our comedic spirit into. I drew “holiday film” out of the hat as our genre, but we still had some great ideas, and it wasn’t hard to incorporate the 3 common elements; Eve or Ivan Pagoda, Coach (the character), ID Card (prop), and “We’re hoping things will change.” (the line of dialogue).

SI: What story did you tell?

JB: After the Kickoff, where we recieved all the elements, my entire group met to brainstorm and vote on the story we felt the strongest about telling. An obscure holiday, Make a Difference Day, won out, so we told the story of a man at a low point in his life trying to do good on that day while incorporating some slapstick moments where his good intentions go wrong.

SI: What was the biggest challenge your team faced?

JB: The biggest challenge was not time. It was definitely maintaining focus. There was plenty of time for drama in the 48 hours and I learned a lot about how I should do it next time. My advice to any 48hfp newbies out there is to set specific jobs/responsibilities for everyone, maintain a simple schedule, and choose the direction you want for the film.  I heard several comments from other team leaders about how they should have been more involved in the writing process.

SI: What was the best moment of the weekend?

JB: The best moment, hands down, was when we got to film the scene we were all anticipating: rolling one of our characters down a big hill in a wheelchair. I think we did 20 takes just because it was so much fun and after finishing the film I think it is the best scene. I still laugh at it.

SI: Will you be participating again next year?

JB:  When I was turning the film in, I wasn’t sure whether I would ever participate again. I had fun, but the drama… oh the drama! With a new strategy I think I will do it again next year and you may see one of my films in another 48hfp city this year.

Thanks Jasmine for giving us a view into your team’s process!  To see photos of Jasmine’s team at work, check out their Facebook photo album.  Be sure to check back with us tomorrow when we’ll hear from a 48HFP veteran. If you’ve got questions for Jasmine or her team, please submit them in the comments section below.

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