6 THINGS I LEARNED FROM FILMMAKING CHALLENGES!
Exploring is one of the most loved activity for most of the filmmakers. But, when it comes to exploring, it happens only in uncertain situations. And this is somewhat my story on how I explored Filmmaking challenges. For those of who don’t know what a filmmaking challenge is, it’s like making a film but with some kind of barrier be it creative or duration. I participated in the one which had two barriers, but more on that in the later part.
I am doing filmmaking since I was 11 ,exploring all the avenue it could provide me to fulfill my passion for this art. With a basic idea in my mind to create anything that looks cool made my first short film in 2014 and then for like 3 years it was me learning new effects watching youtube tutorials and filling up the skill bag.
In 2016, while surfing through the high waters called the internet I came across something called a “24 hour filmmaking challenge”.
“What? That is so silly why would anybody wanna do that?”.
Yes, this was my first reaction. I found it to be silly because I was working on an idea for a month and still wasn’t ready to lock the script. And these people want the whole thing to be done in 24 hours. I knew directors spend 2-3 months on their short films why would they make one in a day? Even though my family told me to give it a try I refused and did not participate in it then.
2 years later, now i was in college with an eye for any group I find that is interested in the things I like. Which included mostly creative things . And luckily I found one just in two months of college. And what was my first filmmaking project? (drumroll) “A 50 hour filmmaking challenge”.Remembering my past mindset with this, I still agreed to do it and what happened next ?, well that made me participate in one more filmmaking challenge. How did my mindset change in 50 hours? Let’s have a look..
In September 2018, I participated in the first filmmaking challenge of my life. I was working with new people from my college with whom I had never worked with. We were all excited to work because for most of the people it was their first short film . We were 4-5 writers who had come to my place during the beginning of the competition. With few Redbulls on the table we were ready to win this thing.(silly us)
Soon we were given the topic and we started brainstorming ideas..
WORK WITH PEOPLE YOU HAVE ALREADY WORKED WITH.
This is not a must but if you wanna win a competition you should be well synced with your crew. In my case we were a new crew so at the start it was a little weird.But these guys were very talented and that was the reason we could complete the film. I had participated in one more filmmaking challenge in the same month and it went much smooth than the last just because it was the second time I was working with them. So, In general when you worked with some people it is easier to express your opinions which makes the process very efficient.
ARGUMENTS ARE MUST.
Yes, I know it sounds a little weird but it's true. Any great idea to be formed requires a good amount of arguments. It's a very good way to find validation for your idea because you receive a lot of counter points regarding your story to which you have to answer to prove your valid points.That’s why it's necessary to make sure that the argument is lead with only valid opinions without any manipulation .I must tell you if someone from outside our team would have seen us argue.that person wouldn't have even guessed that we were a team. We started proving that our idea was the one which was the most valid but slowly slowly the ideas started to deduct and was then narrowed down to one.And most importantly everyone was happy about it.
Which brings us to the next tip,
RESPECT YOUR CREW
Now, this is something that goes beyond just a filmmaking challenge but I realized the importance of it while writing the script of the film. I observed that I was so attached to my idea that slowly my volume started to increase and my tone from a discussion turned to shouting. When you get aggressive with a creative arguments it clearly means that you lost already. Learn to respect other talents. Criticism is only appreciated when it is constructive. How do you differ constructive and destructive criticism? It mainly depends on the intention and the tone of your voice. When you give constructive criticism it only helps and motivates the other person to work better!!
Oh! I can’t stress more on this tip.While growing up we all have been taught to respect time. And most of us failing to understand it. But i realized it's importance during this competition , we had 50 hours to make one Short Film and let me tell you we learned it the hard way. We thought we were ahead in the schedule as we had completed with the script in the first 6 hours of the competition. We pulled an all nighter to make that possible just to find that we were going to lose time during production and that too a lot! And where did we lose time? TRAVELLING!! (but more on this in the next tip). Usually it’s best to lock the script as tight as possible before starting production because when you are working on such a tight deadline you don’t get to experiment that much. Make the story such a way that the short film might have less angles and less number of shots. We on the other hand had massive amount of both consuming a lot of our time. So efficient shot planning is the key here!!
Remember how I told we lost most of our time travelling!! How can you save massive chunks of time? Remove travelling from the schedule. And that’s only possible when you find locations that are closeby . And by closeby I mean any place where you can get to without the hassle of traffic or crowd. Specially when you live in a city like mumbai its better to find the location in your locality itself. We had location all over the western suburbs of mumbai and hence wasted a lot of time travelling from one place to another.
This according to me is the most important tip of all. When facing such Tight deadlines it’s very easy to start panicking, Specially while editing. Since I was the editor for short film I was very stressed out about it. I had never done editing to a deadline, I had always took my own sweet time to make the edits. I never had bunch of people sitting behind me all worried coz all the hard work that they put in it was dependent on how fast I edited. With shaking hand and sweaty face I was editing with a constant fear of not completing before the deadline. We had 2 hours remaining and a lot was still left like colour grading, exporting,uploading and a lot of stuff..at one point I had just given up..but got motivated by my crew and still continued working and managed to complete it 8 minutes before deadline! It was a giant relief for everyone! We had done it ,we had made a short film in just 50 hours.
According to me, Filmmaking challenges are a great test of decision making,and thus will be very helpful for all the directors. It teaches you the art of multitasking, working efficiently and helps you respect deadlines , which also helps if you are a freelancer working for clients.
If you want to watch the movie we made in 50 HOURS!!
I really recommend each filmmaker to participate in such competition at least once!
So keep creating and KEEP LEARNING!!