Two weeks ago, we featured a series of interviews with the team leaders of three films entered in the 48 Hour Film Project in DC. Two of these films were selected for a second screening in the Best Of DC series, but all three are now available online for your viewing pleasure. The perfect distraction for a Friday afternoon. If you don’t see the clips embedded below, click through to our site.
Jasmine Bulin‘s team, Hugs Productions, drew the “holiday film” genre and their film, “Make a Difference Day”, was selected by the judges for the Best Of DC screening as well as winning an Audience Award.
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.
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).
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?
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.
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.
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.