November 13th, 2017
“Creating a short film in 48 hours is easy”. Said no one ever.
This was my first year as president of the Film Club at Byram Hills, and therefore, my first year competing in what is known as the “48 hour Film Project”. Since I am very into filmmaking and photography I really wanted to try and compete with the “big boys”. Most of the entries in this competition are not high schoolers, nor amateur, but instead, experienced pros in the field. I figured this was my chance to prove my skills and create something our whole club would be proud of.
For those who don’t know anything about this film festival, let me explain. The competition begins on a Friday night (Nov 10th) whereupon all the 150 teams around the world receive their email telling them the requirements for their film. Our email said we needed to include the following: Genre-film noir/family film, Character-Samuel Cobb/Statistician, Line of Dialogue-”That’s the only option”, Prop-bucket. Immediately, all 10 or so of us began brainstorming stories that could include those requirements. By that night we had to come up with a story, shot list, and actors/actresses because the next day was reserved for shooting. Now the time pressure kicks in. Until Monday night at 11:59 when the film must be submitted. Ok yes, it’s technically 77 hours. But since we are highschoolers, we have to go to school on Monday, thereby losing an extra day to work. At least we had a plan: create a story on Friday, shoot on Saturday, and edit on Sunday.
In my opinion, creating the story was one of the hardest parts. I knew that if we got a good story down we would be able to shoot and edit it no problem. In filmmaking, the story is everything. You can have as many visual effects and unique camera shots as you want, but without a story, there’s no chance we would win, nor come close to it.
We eventually came to a consensus on the idea of a young teen suffering a disease who uses statistics to determine how long he has left to live. After many hours of revision and collaboration, our story was born and was ready to be shot.
Sam’s Bucket follows the story of a teenager named Samuel Cobb diagnosed with a severe disease requiring a multitude of medication on a daily basis. After using his superb math skills, he comes to realize the odds of how long he has left to live – 4 days. With only 4 things left on his bucket list, Sam decides to complete one a day. Throughout his 4 day journey of riding in a Mustang, performing a unique drum solo, and running around with a dog, he has finally found his joyful self. Exhausted by exercising with the dog, Sam unexpectedly walks right into his last task on the bucket list. To fall in love. You’re going to have to watch the film to see what happens next. It can be viewed by clicking the link in your browser: http://millerevan.com/filmmaking/.
The Final Edit:
My favorite part of the project was filming. As a club, we worked together to get every single shot. Some shots had to be taken many times over again, but none of us gave up nor complained. We knew we had to follow suit the schedule, but we weren’t going to sacrifice quality. The extensive help provided by other club members proved our dedication. Sam Schwartz and Nick Magnemi holding the sound boom and audio tracker. Stefan Dinkel, Matthew Turk, Nate Lucas, and Alex D’Angelo composing music for the film behind the scenes. We were fortunate enough to have friends who knew how to compose their own music! I loved watching them work as a separate crew in themselves independently. All in all, filmmaking is a collaborative, group effort. It cannot be done as a one-man show. Nor could it have been done without our amazing teacher, Mr.Chuney, as he provided insightful and creative input during the process.
Overall, this was an experience I don’t see myself ever forgetting. It was my first hands-on experience with a proper film shoot. Including all the aspects of writing, filming, sound, music, and editing. So no, it’s no easy task. However, the final product is something to be proud of. Although we didn’t win, the late nights over the long weekend paid off in my mind. Fortunately, I was able to take away a multitude of new techniques and film styles that will enhance the following year’s project; which I can’t wait to start because I know this next one will get us some flight tickets to France!
Check out the: behind the scenes!