The Bowdoin Film Society (BFS) begins its second annual 48 Hour Film Fest tonight, with teams of students rushing to write, cast, film and edit a movie over the course of the weekend. Given the challenge, coffee, caffeine pills, Red Bull and sugary treats from the C-store will likely be in high demand.
Teams must arrive at Sills Auditorium at 6:15 p.m. to receive a film genre, prop and specific lines, which must be utilized in their movie's production. They then have until 7 p.m. on Sunday to produce their film. All submissions will be shown at a screening on the first weekend of November.
BFS President Lucas Delahanty '10, who led the planning effort for this year's festival, said the assignment of requirements would be left to chance.
"Team leaders will...draw from a hat a random genre type, and from another hat a prop they must creatively incorporate into their movie," he said in an e-mail to the Orient. "They'll have no idea what...genres we've selected, or props we've assembled until they pick them from the hat. They must also choose two out of four lines we've selected to use in their movie."
What can teams expect to draw from the hat? Without revealing any secrets, festival organizer David Shuck '12 indicated they should expect the worst.
For example, he said, "Their genre could be western, the prop could be a rubber chicken, and one of their lines could be, 'Here comes the fireman.'"
Teams that fail to incorporate the required components into their movie will not be disqualified.
One of the festival's two prizes, given by a panel of judges, is awarded to the best overall film which uses the selected criteria in a creative manner. Audience members will decide the winner of the other prize by voting for their favorite film at the November screening.
Success will be sweet: both prizes include a trophy and a $35 gift certificate to Gelato Fiasco in downtown Brunswick.
Alex Colby '10, a member of last year's winning team (at the time there was only one prize), said he enjoys the spontaneity and hurried pace of the challenge.
"I always love the first day where you get the genre, get the prop, sit down and spit out ideas," he said with a grin. "That whole creative process is fantastic. You aren't just thinking about what can be filmed well; you are also thinking about plot at the same time."
"And you can't take a long time because you don't have a week, he added. "So you are restricted to these constraints, which really force a creative thinking you do not use in a classroom setting."
After a few seconds, his grin evaporated.
"I'm not looking forward to not getting any sleep," he added. "Yeah, you film and shoot during the day, but you edit and rethink your ideas during the night."
Two of last year's six teams did not manage to finish their films. Colby attributed his ability to survive the challenge to caffeine. "I'm a caffeine addict," he said. "You just drink coffee and energy drinks. Last year [I] maybe slept [a total of] 10 hours."
As the defending champions, Colby's team is taking the contest very seriously.
"This year we are coming in as the previous winners and we want
to make something better than last year, so we are going to have to bring our A game," said Colby.
Eleven teams to date have signed up for the challenge; only three teams are composed of actual BFS members and their friends. According to Delahanty, there is no limit to the number of students per team so long as all participants are recruited "voluntarily."
Groups will most likely be shooting on campus, though they are allowed to film anywhere. Delahanty also noted that last year some teams struggled through the process.
"The longest part of movie-making varies from person to person," said Delahanty. "A bad case of writer's block could derail a group right off, countless things can go wrong while shooting, and editing can be a psychologically arduous process."
"I usually say that behind every minute of finished video you can expect an average of four hours of work, he added. "One for the writing, one for the shooting, one for the editing, plus one you just seem to lose somewhere. I'd say writing is often the toughest part for people; getting a plot down...can be a daunting process."
Last year, BFS required that teams use specific cameras and editing software in order to level the playing field. Delahanty said this was no longer the case.
"This year we're loosening the restrictions and allowing teams to provide whatever equipment they want themselves, but if they still need a camera we can provide one in addition to an external hard drive, fire wire and mini DV," he said.
With midterm examinations in full swing, some students might be skeptical of an event that consumes the entire weekend and cuts into sleep. Shuck said he believes the festival illustrates the work ethic of students at the College.
"It is a big challenge," he said. "It is cool that with all their work, people are still finding the time to do this."