In July of 2008 Cody Long came to Josh Allred, Kevin Calumpit and I with a proposition. He suggested that we form a team and enter the upcoming 48 Hour Film Project. We’d only heard of it briefly up to that point, so Cody filled us in on the details of the project. Each team would have exactly 48 hours to complete a short film, from conception to final cut. We would be given four things during the first hour of the competition that must be used in the short: the genre, a name that must be given to a character, a prop, and a phrase. Immediately we were excited, and agreed that this would be a great challenge for us as a crew and, at the very least, a ton of fun and an opportunity to learn. We had, at this point, not yet attempted any sort of narrative as a team together, and being creative people who all really have ours eyes on feature film and narrative for the future, we couldn’t wait. Thus was born Team Alphabeticool.
We immediately assigned ourselves roles: Cody would be the director, Josh would be the Producer, I would be the Director of Photography and Kevin would be our Go-to guy/technical adviser/editor/all-in-one man. Cody took on the role of leader and quickly organized a day dedicated to cast auditions. This is what first made it feel more serious and “official” for me, and gave me an understanding of how committed the guys were to making this short something special. We prepared for the event off and on in the weeks leading up to it and held several meetings dedicated to coming up with stories for each of the genres we had a possibility of getting. We wanted to be extra ready and not have to waste too much of our 48 hours on writing.
On the night of the project start we ended up with Science Fiction (a genre that we hadn’t made a completely satisfactory story for), the name Joe Beeble, a mandatory prop of tweezers, and the phrase “Hey, did you hear the news?” We’ll all probably agree that the biggest lesson learned in competing in this competition was that you can never compensate for a good story. No matter how great the production value, the special effects, the actors, props, locations….none of them can cover up a mediocre story. Now, this is something we knew to be true from the beginning, as our company catch phrase is “Story First”. We were so excited and nervous on that first night – we held a huge meeting of cast, crew, and anybody else who wanted to contribute, and made a group effort to come up with a creative and cohesive storyline. Turns out, stories probably come out better when attempted by one person. Instead of having the group create the overall plot, we should have had one person write it and then had the group mold it and smooth out the details.
Other than that one minor detail, we ended up having an utter life-changing blast over the next 48 hours. We faced a slew of challenges, moments of frustration, of realization, pure elation, and exhaustion. We all pulled together as a crew in a way we had never done before and never been asked to do before. This gave way to a moment of enlightenment for each of us. As Cody put it, “a fire was ignited within us”. From that weekend on, we knew that we worked together not only as friends, but as a successful group of filmmakers.
by Meghan Christofferson