Cinematography Mailing List - CML

48 Hour Film Project Advice


Hey guys & gals,

This will be my first time shooting a video for the 48 hour film project ( this Friday & Saturday. Would anyone like to share advice who's previously shot a film under these conditions? I'll be shooting 24p on an XL2 & editing in FCP. I have a dolly, tripod, foam core, small lighting kit & a few theatre lights to my disposal.


Dom Zanghi
AC/Sports Camera Op. (& now a 48 hour film DP)

I helped a friend out on his 48 hour film last year. It was a lot of fun. One thing that helped him immensely was having the editor on set with us. That way he was able to digitize tapes and edit on the shoot day. Every minute counts in these things. The next helper was decent sound: a good mike, a boom, a field mixer, an XLR adapter for the XL2, and someone who had some experience with the field mixer. If you don't have a mixer set the XLR adapter to record on both channels, then have one input set to 10 and the other set to 5 or 6. Then if some dialogue is blown out at 10, then the one at 5 or 6 will hopefully be okay.

The thing I couldn't believe on our shoot was the monitor the D.P. had. We had a lot of grip and electric equipment and everything else we would need. But the NTSC monitor was a piece of crap and not calibrated. I kept offering to run home and grab mine, but the director and producer kept looking at me as if it didn't matter. Of course, there turned out to be major exposure and shot to shot matching problems that they didn't notice till the next day. But the story was good and it was edited well. They won the prize for best film. Good luck.

Sean Meredith
Los Angeles

Dom Zanghi wrote:

> Hey guys & gals,
> This will be my first time shooting a video for the 48 hour film project >( this Friday & Saturday. Would anyone like >to share advice who's previously shot a film under these conditions?

The key factor is getting a Team.

Are you directing? or Just shooting?

Look is minimally important to the contest, so is sound.

What they are looking for is an interesting idea.

They do not want a polished film. Acting is not important. Just an interesting idea. If you take the idea and develop it, and create a finished film, you will lose.

Do everything you can to make the interesting idea the most important thing, don't surround it with a well made film, or the judges won't be able to focus on the interesting idea. So just have an interesting idea, surrounded by a bad film, and you have a chance.

The more outrageous and ridiculous idea, the better.

They are not looking for polished films, they are looking for films that look like they were made by people who never made a movie before.

These are just my opinions, I'm not terribly bitter about it.

By the way, if you aren't selected to be in the final screenings, then they don't want you to come to watch the winners. The Screenwriter and Lead actress went to the screening, (I was working couldn't go), and they were point blank asked by the organizers why they bothered to come.

These are my experiences from entering in the New York section last year, so perhaps different areas run differently.

Discussion along the lines of my comments is probably better suited to Chat. I hope you find this information useful.

Steven Gladstone
CML East Coast List Administrator
Gladstone Films

I've been involved for the past 2 years here in Los Angeles. Best advice I can give you. Keep it simple, w/o making it appear simple? Lock your locations and have back ups for your backups.

We have done pretty well on the films we've shot, winning best of last year. All that can be see at

Try to have an idea of what you want before you shoot - so your editor doesn’t go insane.

I like to rent an RV and park in front of the submission place (usually a pub) and put my editor in there -=- turn in your first cut, as soon as its done. Then tweak - you can always replace with new cuts up until the deadline.

Jared Hoy
BBE / Gaffer
Los Angeles, California

I've shot three projects for 48 hr. film project type competitions.

In Los Angeles, the emphasis seems to be on production value and many of the winning projects have sort of a Saturday Night Live sketch comedy feel to them.

On such a short time schedule, the finished project is only going to be a strong as it's weakest link. In general, everyone has to work quickly, efficiently and cooperatively, pitching in where ever help is needed. Don't allow yourself to get upset over little things - the other teams probably have bigger things to worry about than your team if you're properly prepared.

First and foremost, keep it simple. Good audio and proper exposures are a must - there won't be time to correct either in post. Get sufficient coverage for the editor to work with, but not so much that it hinders your time starved editor at 3 a.m.

The more equipment you have, the more you will be tempted to use but balance this out with knowing that you're probably going to wish you had brought something or had access to some equipment that you won't have time or the opportunity to get. Double and triple check everything beforehand to make sure it's in good working order and properly calibrated.

Make sure you cell phone is charged - you never know when they're going to get stuck on a prop, location or something else that you and you alone will have access to. Also make sure you get a good night's sleep the night before, and remember to eat something and drink water on set.

One of the projects I shot, "Captain Freedom: Still At Large" (shot under a pseudonym), can be viewed here:

"Powerful Romantic" (which received Best Cinematography despite being shot with fluorescent work lights) can be viewed here :

Jessica Gallant
Los Angeles based Director of Photography
West Coast Systems Admin, Cinematography Mailing List

Hey Dom

I had work on a project like that but It was shot on film, the team had 48 hours for prep. and 48 to shoot, process, transfer and edit. The short is 8 minutes long.

It wasn’t a nightmare, just a little long.

If you shoot, try to scout the locations and draw some lighting diagrams so your gaffer can pre-light for you the next location and you only arrive to work on details.

There is always a good dolly move that can work great instead of 6 or 7 setups.

Don’t waste time arguing for a shot, you can go for the Oscar in another job.

Have something to eat like granola bars or something like that, there is a strong chance that you wont have time to seat for lunch or when you get to the catering service at the end of the day they will only have water left.

Arrive earlier than anyone, for sure you will leave at the end.

Keep focused, don’t panic on the time, never check the clock, just do what you know and the most important advice : have lots of fun, if you don’t smile you wont get it.

Miguel Del Valle P
DoP. E.P.
Mexico City Acapulco.

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