After last week's ultra-defensive post, in which I stated that most of my friends and family have nothing to do with the entertainment industry (which is true), I must now confess: My husband and our best friend are filmmakers, and they're going to shoot another movie this weekend.
Now, don't get me wrong: Sean and Curtis operate about as far outside the studio system as is possible. Their production company, Biscuits & Gravy, sounds properly small; they usually work with a budget that hovers around zero dollars; actors double as grips, makeup artists, and boom operators; their camera jib is made out of PVC pipe; and, most damning of all, I am the caterer on all of their productions. But they do dream of making it big some day. A few of their short films (After the Ball, Demo Reel, Harmony Bar) are good enough to make it into film festivals. They shot a feature-length horror film called Death Valley last year and are now trying to market it. They were lucky enough to befriend a journalist who recently wrote a highly complimentary article about them for Screen International. They've even shot a couple of industrial films for a large media empire located on the east coast -- those jobs are notable because they're the only projects they've ever been paid for.
But this weekend they're participating in their fourth go-round of The 48-Hour Film Project, which has become an annual labor of love. This crazy contest, which of course offers nothing in the way of financial rewards, is all about being fast: The contestants (I think there are 48 teams in Los Angeles) have 48 hours to write, shoot, edit, score and deliver a six- to eight-minute film. At 7 o'clock on Friday evening, each team is assigned a genre drawn from a hat; then, so no one starts filming early, all the participants are told about the three elements (a prop, a character, and a line of dialogue) that every entry must include. Biscuits & Gravy's first effort resulted in Super Ego, which chronicles a 12-step meeting for superheroes that's infiltrated by a stool pigeon intent on exposing their weaknesses. This flick won the Audience Favorite award. The next year they took their assignment very seriously and came up with Reaping Season, a detective story featuring an intrepid cop and an unlikely killer. Reaping Season fell pretty flat with both the audience and the judges, though it was well-made and had a particularly nice score. Last year they hit one out of the ballpark with Significant Others (enter the title at this site), a mockumentary about a temp agency that provides replacements for the important people in your life. They won Best of L.A. and Best Screenplay (that last one is a bit of a joke as much of the movie is improvised) and got to travel to lovely San Jose with winners from all over the world to compete at Cinequest Film Festival. (They didn't win, but we did get to visit the Winchester Mystery House.)
So it all begins again this evening. There will be very little sleep, a lot of crankiness, and unbearably hot weather. What will be the genre and the required elements? Will it all come together smoothly or fall apart in the end? Most importantly, where will Biscuits & Gravy have our celebratory dinner on Sunday night? If any readers express the slightest interest in the outcome, I'll let you know what happens.