Students Write, Produce 47 Hour Filmmaking Event

Participants in the 47 Hour
Filmmaking Challenge, a contest sponsored by the 5C film and television production club Studio 47, wrote and produced their work Oct. 10 to Oct. 12, screening the finished short films in the Rose Hills Theatre on the final night of the competition. 

“The main goal was to have fun,” Studio 47 staff member Peter Chen PO ’16 said. “We wanted it to be non-competitive and laid-back, like a video hack-a-thon.”

Each group had 47 hours to plan,
write, film and edit a short flick. While the club imposed no artistic limitations on
plot or theme, the films had ten-minute time limits and needed to incorporate
the phrase, “Will you please photosynthesize?” somewhere into the dialogue. Students were
given access to Studio 47’s supply of cameras, microphones and editing
software, but most chose to capture their films on smartphones.  

Studio 47 members worked on the first film of
the night, which followed one member’s attempts at creating a film in 47 hours. Spoiler alert: It involved a lot of paper airplanes and potato chips.

“On Hold”
by Ben Cowan PZ ’18 chronicled the all-too-relatable story of one frustrated student whose
computer stops working the night before her essay is due. She spends the
following day on hold with tech support, haunted by the annoying waiting music
as she goes about her daily routine.

Megan Edwards SC ’16 showed a glimpse
of sibling love and support in her film, “Puzzled,” in which the protagonist attempts to
distract her anxious brother as he waits for his college decision from Oxford University. While
they find various childish ways to entertain themselves—from singing the
Oompa Loompa song to foot wrestling—they eventually decide to work on a
100-piece puzzle as the last pieces from the brother’s college “puzzle” fall
into place.

Ernesto
Dillon PO ’18 and Sam Kelly PO ’18 had a slightly more literal take on the
theme. In their film, “Flowers Don’t Photosynthesize,” one character begs his
friend to “photosynthesize” from the black-and-white world in which he is
currently living; the friend promptly transforms into a flower.

“It was very impromptu, but it was a ton of
fun,” Kelly said. “Neither of us have experience making films, so it was cool
to try it out.” 

While a captivating plot is essential, Dillon emphasized the significance of background in short films. 

“The music was a really important component to the movie, so we spent a
lot of time deciding how we could incorporate it,” he said.

“Façade,” which was made by members of Studio
47, took a less literal route. The film follows a girl as she walks down a hallway in
slow motion, amidst a confusing array of colors and sounds from her
peers and surroundings. 

In an individual entry entitled
“Sonder Diary,” Chen used a slightly different form to convey the
message. He edited together several existing YouTube videos, narrating a
reflection over each clip of individuals’ lives and stories. He then
filmed an additional clip, in which a girl stares at her reflection while
holding a plant and anxiously begging it to photosynthesize.   

Erin Harris-Tyrrell PZ ’18’s “Will You
Please Photosynthesize?” was one of the most plot-driven films. In H-T’s piece, a
biology student is fired from her position in a lab. After her professor is
killed in a lab explosion, she vows to continue photosynthesizing the plants he
was researching.

The night
ended with “The Wheel,” by Claudia Sandell PO ’18, Sawyer Henshaw SC ’17 and Xiwen
Wang SC ’18. In a black-and-white world, a suited acrobat spins around in a
German circus wheel, with soft piano music accompanying his twirls. The next
shot shows the colorful world outside, accompanied by upbeat music. An anonymous person scrawls, “Will you please photosynthesize” on a wall, and the shot focuses on a group of acrobats performing
on the lawn. At the end, the performer escapes from the straps of his wheel and
joins the colorful world.

“We started
by shooting a circus performer on his wheel in the Rains racquetball courts,”
Sandell said. “We turned the lights out because it gave us some really cool
shadows to work with. Then, we filmed the 5C circus club—5Circus—outside on
the lawn.”

Though diverse in content and theme,
the films contained one commonality: the required phrase. This challenge proved that there are many ways to express an idea, whether it’s through a
dramatic dialogue, a light-hearted reflection or a wordless sequence.  

“We wanted to show people what Studio 47 was, and this was a great way to do that,” General Manager Reid Mitchell PO ’16 said. “A lot of these people didn’t have any filmmaking experience, so it was really rewarding to see what they came up with.”

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