Downtown - 36 Hour Competition Short Film
This summer we competed in The Tallgrass Film Association's Take36 Competition. Take36 is a competition where teams write, shoot, and edit a short film (under six minutes) all in 36 hours.
This was our first year competing and we learned SO much! It's amazing to see how an idea transforms over the course of 2 days and while there is a lot we would change or do differently. We're incredibly proud of what we did make. So watch it now and then read Brett's thoughts/reflection on it below!
Thanks for taking the time to watch and read this! One of my favorite parts of filmmaking is the collaboration it requires. I would be remiss if I didn't start this reflection on Downtown by thanking everyone who was a part of the team! So what are some things I would have done differently?
1. Write a Longer Script
Knowing we had a six-minute time limit, my goal in the writing was to be super economical. We had three locations for our three acts, and absolutely no fat when it came to dialog. Our final script was 4 pages in length and we knew we'd have no problems with staying under the time limit. But, it meant that if something didn't work in production or in the edit, we were hosed. A good example of this is when Sam and Olivia have their conversation in the dining room. In the script, we had a moment where Sam gestures to a sink full of dishes, implying she's overwhelmed and needs to get out of the house. It didn't flow well in the edit, but I'm not sure cutting it out works any better either. Writing and shooting more of these moments allows you to chip away in the edit. It might feel like you're not being subtle enough in the script, but the script isn't the final piece.
2. Recruit a DP and Editor
We had a great crew, but a lack of experience and expertise meant that I was the one who did the writing, directing, blocking, cinematography, editing, mixing, and coloring. Everyone, but especially Tyler, helped me get through the moment-to-moment challenges of the project. Still, by the end of editing, I was totally burned out.
3. Shoot More Coverage
Much like the script, one of the goals during the shoot was to be economical with our time. We never just did one take (I think), but we could have done a better job planning our schedule, getting more shots, and taking more time on certain shots. All of this could have helped with the flow (especially scene changes) and would have prevented some headaches in the edit.
4. Have a Better Plan for Music
We had no idea what we were going to do for music as we started this competition. Luke and I ended up stringing together some Apple Garageband loops to get something in. It works, but it's not great. Next year we'll either get someone to actually make the music as we edit or find a musician who will let us license their music.
Ultimately, as a creative, you end up nitpicking your work to death. Any other criticisms you have of Downtown I probably have too! But just because I think it could have been better doesn't mean I'm not proud of it. I'd rather have an imperfect film that is finished, than a project that is stuck in the mud. And at the end of the day, that's what makes Take36 so valuable. It forces you to get out of your own head and just do it. Just make the thing and put it out there.