Spend Some Time In The Meat Locker
So, with No Ticket Productions’ The Meat Locker officially submitted on Sunday with 20 minutes to spare in the Cleveland edition of the 48 Hour Film Project, I can now say –
HolyFRAK what an insane and fun and sweaty and exhausting and hilarious and caffeine-and-sugar-fueled and rewarding way to spend a weekend!
I will divulge no spoilerage beyond this: We drew “suspense/thriller” as a genre, and The Meat Locker was the result. I’m sure we’ll put it online in the not-too-distant future, but in the meantime, if you want to come see it on the big screen, it premieres at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Cedar Lee in Cleveland Heights, along with 10 other short films from the contest. Get your tickets here! (Take note: The Meat Locker is in the Group C showing on Thursday night – groups A&B screen Wednesday, but the listing for all three screenings reads “48 Hour Film Project,” so make sure you get the right tickets.)
The abridged version of the weekend reads like this: The entire crew gathered at about 7:30 p.m. Friday and threw out tons of ideas once we knew our film’s genre. Then the four of us writing the script holed up in the basement and narrowed the possibilities to two very different movies, each of which we fleshed out as completely as possible without actually reaching the screenwriting point. We then picked the one which we thought we had the best possibility of pulling off.
(Digression: This morning, I found this story about the project online, and while I was excited to see 48 Hour Film getting some publicity, I confess to taking exception to the following allegation by another participant:
“We had planned to do horror,” Gutter said, noting that all teams go into the competition with some idea of what they are going to film.
For the record, we didn’t. The only content decision we made ahead of time was to give up the Western/Musical genre if we’d drawn that one and go for a Wild Card assignment instead.)
With the general story in mind, everyone else figured out what we’d need in the way of costumes and music and props.
Over the next few hours, four of us wrote the screenplay – and while all of us admitted afterward that we’d been nervous about how well this would work, it was an absolute blast from a writing standpoint. I haven’t done a good dose of fiction in far too long, and I’ve never written anything in a fully collaborative style like this, with ideas and lines and scenes flying around and developing and building off each other, and what with the deadline pressure and all, it was quite a rush.
Even though I was just flattened by 2:30 a.m. when we finished it, I still couldn’t fall asleep right away. (Maybe because a) Jenn insisted I tell her the story when I finally came to bed, and b) I had something like 5 Mountain Dew Throwbacks and maybe a pound of assorted snack chips and candy in my bloodstream.)
Saturday’s work began at 7:30 a.m. or so, creating a shooting log from the script and gathering costumes and props and setting the equipment up for the shoot.
By the time we were ready to roll, it was after lunch, and we filmed basically nonstop for the next 7 or 8 hours, with everyone pitching in on all jobs acting to filming to boom operation to logging the sound times and scene lengths to wrangling the cables. I’m really struggling to effectively describe the massive pile of effort that went into Saturday’s work, all of which led to a roughly 7-minute movie, but it was as hard a day as I’ve had in a long time, although it was also easily one of the most fun.
I crashed just after midnight, when the sound and video were still being uploaded into the computers. We all awoke to an email notice from our director that a rough, rough cut was done.
Those of us still there helped choose the various pieces of music for the soundtrack and offered editing notes and that sort of thing, and Jenn & Kelsey & I left shortly after lunch while the final polishing was under way.
While a big part of a project like this is clearly to just have fun, we all did share a focus on wanting to make the best movie we could, and even when we were being goofy, I felt like we all had the right amount of taking things seriously mixed in, and being part of that with my friends and my wife and my daughter was pretty damn cool.