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How I learned to stop worrying and love the 48 hour film project... in 3 acts

May 12, 2017

ACT ONE: Making an Emirati Western in 48 hours

 

It’s 6:45 am. The sun is barely over the horizon and I have had nowhere near enough coffee yet. Oh, and I went to bed at 3.30 last night because I was still desperately trying to finish storyboarding for the script we’d started at 8pm yesterday evening. Insanely tired, a twenty hour day ahead of me and unable to really appreciate the exotic beauty of where I was standing – a horse farm in the shadow of the Musandam peninsula, bordering the UAE, Oman and the Persian gulf beyond. I remember finding a moment – a single, serene awareness of my surroundings – before snapping back to reality.

 

My ‘crew’ – all students from Dubai Men’s College – were chattering away simultaneously, a cacophony of excited and enthusiastic novice filmmakers about to start shooting on their first ever 48 hour movie project. Dubai, 2013. Hell, for pretty much all of them this was their first shoot of any kind, their happy chatter evidence that they didn’t yet realize what they were letting themselves in for. The innocence and confidence of youth that only comes from not yet knowing what you don’t yet know. One way or another, they were going to shoot an Emirati Epic Western before the sun went down. Nothing was going to stand in their way. Another serene moment and a quick smile to myself. This was one of the many things I loved about this particular class. The shared sense of camaraderie – that you could throw anything at them and they’d come out on top.

 

For the uninitiated, the 48 hour film project is one of this planet’s greatest and most rewarding punishments. The brain child of producer Mark Ruppert, it pits amateur, professional, seasoned and first-time filmmakers together over a single sleep deprived weekend to write, produce, shoot and edit a short film (up to 7 minutes long). As if that wasn’t daunting enough, there’s a catch (which is actually the real genius of the project – and one which does level the playing field considerably) … each team that enters is given a genre, a prop and a line of dialog that must be included in the final film. That means pre-production can’t begin until the starting pistol fires on Friday evening. Then it’s every gunslinger, femme fatale, dirty cop (insert your own lovable movie cliché here) for him or herself (not to mention the horses).

 

to be continued...

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