It was 10 a.m. Saturday and members of the Short Pants team had completed their writing session and could now move forward with the rest of the filmmaking process for their entry in this year's Indianapolis' edition of the international 48 Hour Film Project. That was the good news. The bad? They were 10 hours behind schedule, with the clock furiously ticking.
Last Friday evening, hundreds of Indianapolis filmmakers took to the city's streets alongside Short Pants, all clinging to the ultimate goal of writing, shooting, editing and scoring a seven-minute film in a mere 48 hours. At Fountain's Square's Hinge Bureau, participants randomly selected their film's genre, literally drawing topics from a hat. Their given directive was cut-and-dried: Their movies required three elements -- a character, a prop and a line of dialogue. For this year, those three elements were Russ or Rita Reklaw, (Advice Columnist), a wagon and "Somebody has to take out the garbage," respectively.
This year Short Pants, who won first place at the 2013 Indianapolis event, took part in the Big Car-produced exercise for the fifth time. After receiving "silent film" as their genre, the experienced group of filmmakers was undoubtedly forced to explore new territory, explains Tony Cardinali, one of six core members in the group who all serve any number of roles in the two-day process.
- Courtesy Big Car
Big Car's Executive Director Jim Walker holds out the hat from which filmmakers draw to determine their assigned movie genre. (This from a previous year's competition.)
"It's always interesting, it's always fun and it's always difficult, but this year especially, for some reason, we had an incredibly difficult time," he says. "So a response to that was to come up with something completely different."
Through their many years of participation, Short Pants has discovered ways to prepare for the 48-hour filming frenzy, such as hashing out a tentative schedule, going over the group's core philosophies at the start and establishing a home base. Nevertheless, Cardinali admits, "I always feel terribly unprepared for these things, but that's kind of the nature of it."
The extemporaneous essence of the 48 Hour Film Project is something Jim Walker and the folks at Big Car are particularly attracted to. The nonprofit's executive director and founder explains, "The spontaneity of the 48 Hour Film Project is something that really resonates with us because we like things that happen that way, where everything isn't so planned out and where surprises can really come out of what you're doing and something new is made in an unexpected way." It's because of this that his organization has produced the event for six years now, providing talented local filmmakers with a way to share their work with the large audiences who attend the following week's film screenings.
"The number-one appeal for this is that somebody's going to see your movie in a week," Walker says. "They [the filmmakers] know that no matter what it is on the screen, it's going to be something that people are going to be able to see and they can celebrate that, and it's fresh. There's a lot energy when you have it work that way."
In the course of the very brief filmmaking window, challenges of all kinds can assuredly arise, just as they would in any other creative endeavor. And while making these adjustments may feel agonizing in the heat of the moment, Walker believes the project's instinctive nature can bring out the best in filmmakers.
- Courtesy Big Car
The IMA's Tobias Theatre will screen Indy's 48 Hour Film Project movies Saturday. Afterward the winner will be selected and announced.
"You really never have control of making a movie or making any kind of art," Walker says. "There are so many factors outside of your control, so sometimes it's better for people to let that go and they end up really having things go better when they do."
In reflecting on Short Pants' finished product hours after it has been turned in, Cardinali is once again pleased with the end result of his team's exhilarating creative process.
"It's a completely different feel and a completely different aesthetic than we usually do, and I'm really just tickled about it because it's not really the typical Short Pants thing," he says.
On Saturday, August 9, Cardinali and the rest of this year's filmmakers will gather at the Indianapolis Museum of Art's Tobias Theatre (The Toby) for public screenings of their films. A panel of judges will also be present to score each entry, with the local winner receiving prizes and advancing to the national selection of winners from other cities that participated around the country. For more information on the screening festivities, visit the 48 Hour Film Project's website.
Editor's Note: Short Pants is the 2014 Indianapolis 48 Hour Film Project winning team for Best Use of Prop, Best Writing, Best Directing and Best Film, as well as the audience favorite for Group B.