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How we made a movie in 48 hours…

Posted on June 8th, 2012
Posted on June 8th, 2012

Capture

by Coop Cooper

Can a quality short film be made in 48 hours? For several years now, creators of 48 hour film challenges have proven that it can be done by both professionals and amateurs alike.

The filmmakers and their crews are assigned a very specific genre (ex: wedding disaster, zombie comedy, hitman action, etc…) and a line of dialogue (such as: “It’s not just a hobby; it’s a way of life.”) that must be spoken during the film. The filmmakers must rush to write, plan, shoot and edit the film before the 48 hour time limit expires. The ultimate prize could be prestige, awards or cash. Though I feared I would regret it, I decided to take one of these challenge this past weekend. With a good bit of help, I succeeded.

I had a film festival in Seattle a week before the challenge and I knew time would be tight, plus I was unsure of the full extent of my resources. I had the necessary equipment and skills but it was all untested in this type of situation. On the plus side, I had the ambition and a lot of talented/resourceful friends. I had heard these challenges have a high percentage of participants who do not complete the challenge due to the fact that they give up before they start, something goes wrong or they don’t finish in time. Anything could happen, so I had to be prepared, but how prepared could you be when anything can happen? I came up with as many scenarios to as many genres as possible, but as the time to begin quickly approached, I quickly realized I was at the mercy of whatever genre I was given.

This particular challenge I entered is worldwide and conducted entirely over the internet (http://48gfc.com/). When the time came, I logged in to the website to begin the clock countdown and discover which genre I received. To my surprise, the website had some sort of hiccup and although the clock began counting, there was an error message where the genre was supposed to be. I emailed the error to the administrators and, knowing I would get no quick response – or possibly a refund – and decided to proceed as if the genre was wide open since drawing a wide open category was a possibility within the lottery. I chose the one idea I had come up with that encompassed a few of the sample genres I was keen on and a couple I was completely terrified of. As long as this odd error didn’t disqualify me from the contest, I would have a home court advantage since I was choosing my own subject.

I contacted the cast/crew I knew I would need, determined my locations and wrote through the night until I had the script. After collapsing for a few hours, I woke up early to get my gear loaded and was relieved when I read an email from the challenge administrators agreeing I should continue with whatever genre I had chosen. I quickly realized there were three qualities needed to complete the challenge: 1. creativity 2. organization 3. adrenalin. The adrenalin was the part I didn’t count on and watching the project come together was one of the most intense adrenaline boosts I’ve ever experienced. It allows you to work fast, ignoring the limitations you once thought you had while enhancing the other two attributes… until you lay down to rest and crash into a near coma.

Comas notwithstanding, my cast/crew helped me pull it off, concluding with the final scene late Saturday night at Ground Zero. The editing on Sunday was grueling but once again, adrenalin helped. When I was finished, a nearby lightning storm threatened to down my internet connection, but it stayed up long enough to allow me to upload the finished (as finished as I possibly could make it) project to the server before the deadline

A big thanks to my actors David Dallas, Claire Dean, Jamie Jacks and McKenna Little along with my crew Nathan Duff (Assistant Director and sound), Walt Busby (music), David Dunavent (for allowing me to use his song “Early Morning Blues”) and everyone else involved. Without them I would have just been a nut running around with a camera.

Through this process I learned a lot more about my personal limitations and to truly appreciate my talented friends and colleagues. What I feared would turn out no better than a typical home movie developed into something my team and I can be proud of, regardless of the contest.

If you would like to view the film we made, feel free to go HERE and enter the password “pattern”. The title is “Regress” and it’s a murder thriller with a conspiracy/supernatural twist, shot entirely in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

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Trailer for the award-winning short PRISMA…


A corporate promotional VHS tape from 1984 conceals a brain-altering signal which is said to grant increased health, longevity and psychic powers to those who watch it. View at your own risk...

WINNER: SPECIAL JURY PRIZE, 2017 Oxford Film Festival

WINNER: BEST EXPERIMENTAL FILM, 2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival

SEMI-FINALIST: 2017 NanoCon International Science-Fiction Film Festival

NOMINEE: BEST ANIMATION, 2017 End of Days Film Festival

NOMINEE: BEST GRAPHICS, 2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival

OFFICIAL SELECTION:
2017 Nightmares Film Festival
2017 A Night of Horror Film Festival
2017 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival
2017 Oxford Film Festival
2017 Crossroads Film Festival
2017 Clarksdale Film Festival
2017 Twisted Dreams Film Festival
2017 Tupelo Film Festival
2017 NanoCon International Sci-Fi Film Festival
2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival
2017 End of Days Film Festival
2017 Grenada Afterglow Film Festival
2017 Shiver International Film Festival
2017 Southern States Indie FanFilmFest

Trailer for the lost short GOD MAKER…


Northern Mississippi 1932:
In a cabin in the woods, a blind blues guitarist will discover his destiny from a lovesick goddess who seeks to corrupt his soul.

GOD MAKER remains unfinished and in limbo for now, but the trailer expresses the mood and imagery intended for the project...

Coop’s award-winning 48 hour short film trailer for REGRESS…


Told in reverse, this experimental made-in-48-hours film begins with a shocking murder then backtracks (like a viewer rewinding a VHS tape) to reveal the chilling origins of this tragedy.

WINNER: BEST SHORT FILM at the 2013 Clarksdale Film Festival...
NOMINATED: BEST DIRECTING by the 2012 48hr. Guerrilla Film Challenge (international contest)...
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Crossroads Film Festival

Watch Coop’s award-winning short film THE BEST DAY…


WINNER: 2012 MAGNOLIA FILM FESTIVAL "Best Homegrown Film"
WINNER: 2012 SEATTLE TRUE INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL "Best Scream"

OFFICIAL SELECTION:
2012 OXFORD FILM FESTIVAL
2012 CLARKSDALE FILM FESTIVAL
2012 CROSSROADS FILM FESTIVAL
2012 NORTHEAST MISSISSIPPI FILM FESTIVAL
2012 ATLANTA INDIE HORROR FILM FESTIVAL
2012 OTHERFEST
2012 MISSISSIPPI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
2012 SUN AND SAND FILM FESTIVAL

Morgan Freeman asks Coop a question at THE BEST DAY premiere! Video below…


My short film THE BEST DAY premiered in October 2011 at the Delta Cinema in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Little did I know I had a special guest in the audience who was about to ask me a question during the Q&A. Yep, I got a little flustered when I saw who it was.

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