The 48 is near and dear to my heart because it marks the anniversary of when I began my amazing journey as an actress. When people ask me how I started acting, I tell them the story of how I jumped in headfirst, but I don’t tell the whole story. I’d been taking an acting class here and there, while still desperately trying to hold onto a career in science, because I was afraid of taking the leap. Then one day I was searching for casting notices, not for the first time, and an audition post caught my eye. It was at that moment that I realized that it was no longer a choice; that I didn’t want to get to the end of my life and wonder “What if?” That was the moment that I took the leap! I got dressed up and drove to Sears and got some pictures taken because I didn’t have any and they were asking for them. FYI: Don’t ever go to Sears for headshots – LOL! Instead, read my blog post 20 Headshot Tips - "A Picture's Worth a Thousand... Bucks." I got the pictures the same night, went home, touched them up, and sent them off along with a very sad little resume that included 2 class acting projects, the one class I’d taken (I think I’d taken it twice), a too long list of miscellaneous special skills, and a section for additional experience that listed all the jobs I’d ever held, my past singing skills, mock trial awards, and biology presentations. Next thing I knew, I had my very first audition scheduled! The day came and my heart was pounding out of my chest. I was terrified and excited all at the same time. Then a day or two later, I think, I got an email welcoming me to the production – WHAT?!? Really? They had to be joking! They weren’t. It was my very first acting gig and it was for the 48Hr Film Project. That is why the 48 is so special to me. And my team that year, “Everything But the Name,” turns out we all formed a very special bond and we continue to work together every year on the 48 to this date. I feel that I owe, what has become an amazing life and journey as an actor, all to them, because they took a chance on me.
I want your 48 to be just as special, so I’m going to share with you what you can expect. This may be your first 48, maybe even your first acting gig, or maybe you’re a 48 vet. All I know is that for me, that first 48 was a bit daunting, totally worth it, but daunting. Hopefully this post will help to keep you from feeling quite so overwhelmed. First let me be frank, the 48 Hr Film Project is not for the faint of heart. It’s a grueling, emotional, tumultuous, exhausting, crazy, 3 day long wild ride. But, if you can hang in there, you’ll experience an incredibly fun, amazing, exhilarating, bond-inducing, fantastically rewarding experience that you’ll never forget!
NOTE: Every team has their own procedures, so this may not be exactly what you experience.
Without further ado, here’s the timeline.
Kickoff time is between 6-7pm. Your team captain will attend the kickoff, where they will pull a genre out of a hat for your team. Your captain gets one chance to decide whether they’d like to keep this genre or take the “Wild Card.” The wild card is the same for all the teams that choose it (at least that’s how they’ve done it here in Pittsburgh in the past) and is often a more difficult or bizarre genre. Click HERE for examples of possible genres and details about the wild card. Also, a character, prop, and line of dialogue will be drawn – these elements will be the same for every team that participates in your city. Click HERE for previous examples of these elements. The team captain will then dash to wherever their writers are holed up for the night. They’ll spend the first several hours hashing out ideas until they come up with one that will result in an interesting and comprehensive short film script. Then they’ll put together a list of characters, costumes, locations, props, whatever’s needed. It is now probably around 11pm, 12am, or maybe even later. While the writing team writes the “final” script (I use that term loosely, things will change) someone from the team will likely start calling the actors and the crew, to tell you what character you’re playing, what costumes to bring, a starting location and call time, and to find out you if have other locations, costumes, or props they can use. This is the real start of your call time actors. You need to spend time, however long, gathering up everything you will need for an entire day, likely night, and possibly into the next day of filming. Get your costumes ready to wear, hair options, makeup, whatever you need. Do it now, don’t wait until morning, get everything ready and packed, then head straight to bed, immediately! You’re going to need every spare second of sleep that you can snatch up. Your actual call time could range anywhere from that very night, to the crack of dawn, to 9am or later, depends on your team.
Report to your call time, prepped in whatever way needed and with everything you packed the night before. As with any acting job, DO NOT BE LATE! Remember, your team has only 48 hours from Kickoff to Dropoff, so don’t be the person holding up production. When you arrive on location, you’ll get a script and some paperwork to sign that states you are willing and able to participate, aren’t getting paid, etc. The rest of the day is likely to be a complete whirlwind of rushing. Rushing to get in costume and makeup, rushing to different locations, rushing to get THE shot, rushing, rushing, rushing. There will likely be some downtime in the mix while they set up shots and whatnot, you need to spend that time memorizing whatever lines you’re given. If you do get a chance to lay down to catch a few extra ZZZ’s or run out for a minute, make sure you ok it with your captain and let them know where you’ll be. Now your team is in Shoot Mode. Shoot Mode could last for the entire day, into the night, or even into the next day. Your director, camera people, and sound people will be going full speed ahead and they’ll need you to keep up so they can stay on track and on schedule. Give them whatever help they ask for. I mentioned that this experience could become quite emotional, Saturday afternoon or evening is often when some fighting may happen, tempers may flare, you may also laugh, or you may cry (sleep deprivation and extended time in close quarters take their toll on people, don’t take it personally). The 48 is kind of like a slumber party for adults except that there’s no sleeping, no pillow fights (ok, maybe pillow fights), and instead of watching movies until you pass out, you’re staying up all night making a movie and passing out is not really an option. I know it sounds insane, but trust me, it really is a lot of fun!
Hopefully, by this time, your team has gotten all the shots they need and they have either sent you home to sleep or at least given you permission to nap. If not, sorry that sucks, but keep your chin up – You Can Do This! Your crew has likely had far less sleep than you, if any, and they’re bordering on delirium now so do your best to help where you can, but don’t get in the way. Your team should now be editing together all the footage they shot, composing music, designing credits, etc. At this point, you’re probably wrapped, but make sure that you remain available until Dropoff or whatever time they give you. They may need to reshoot a scene, shoot a missing scene, ADR your dialogue, etc. Dropoff takes place between the hours of 5-8pm. Your film must be in by no later than 7:30pm to be considered On-Time and eligible for Judging. Someone on your team, will be tasked with the job of getting a complete version of your film onto a Flash Drive, labelled with all of your info and handed in at Dropoff on-time. You’re done! It’s over! Now everyone can go home and sleep for the rest of the day and night.
Now on to the screening portion of the 48. If you’re lucky enough to have a team like mine, you’ll probably all get together for the screening the following weekend. Then afterwards, you’ll go out to celebrate your amazing accomplishment and reminisce about all the crazy, wild, insane fun you had. And if you’re really lucky… you’ll win an award!
“Everything But The Name” has won several awards including multiple Audience Choice awards and Best Use of Prop, among others. Below are some of our previous films. If you get a chance, be sure to watch them. We’ve come up with some pretty cool little films in just 48 Hours. Clearly the 48 is a challenge and we like a good a challenge, so this year, “Everything But The Name” will be splitting into 2 groups “Everything But” and “The Name” to see if we can come up with 2 great films.
If you aren’t participating this year, and/or you want to see all the films, please click HERE for details.
A Huge Thanks to my awesome team “Everything But The Name” for taking a chance on me and making the experience so wonderful that we need to do it again each year! A Huge thanks to Producer Kahmeela Adams and Nina Sauer, who always do an amazing job of putting the 48 together! Another Huge Thanks to The Hollywood Theatre in Dormont for hosting the screenings! And last but not least, a Huge Thanks to all the wonderful Pittsburgh sponsors who help to make the 48 possible!
Next Week: 48 Hours: "Breakdown" - 2 Films Collide