2012-06-14 / Front Page
Fast-forward to the finish line
Brookdale’s 48 Hour Film Festival puts students to ultimate test
I t’s 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 2. Magee Fahey and his film team are in the basement of theATEC building on the Lincroft campus of Brookdale Community College, dressed in 1940s detective garb and inspecting a fake corpse. If any of them are exhausted, they definitely don’t show it.
The five 20-somethings have been working on their latest project – “Me TV” – for nearly 27 hours. Following a full day of planning and production Friday, they took a threeand a-half hour power nap and awoke at 5 a.m. to get right back to work.
The team, a collection of Brookdale film students and alumni from all over Monmouth and Ocean counties, will continue to write, direct, film and edit scenes until 1 p.m. Sunday, when they will have to hand their completed seven-minute film over to the judges of Brookdale’s 48 Hour Film Festival.
Even at this stage, Fahey is already beginning to realize how difficult the project is.
“It’s a huge challenge,” he said, taking a short water break as his teammates rearrange spotlights and improvise new lines of dialogue back in the production studio.
“The way we’re attacking this project is probably a little overkill for the circumstances, but in the end it will hopefully look good. We’ll see.”
In all, there were 11 teams competing in the two-day festival, which ran from June 1 to 3, with production and editing taking place on Friday and Saturday and viewing, judging and an awards ceremony on Sunday night.
The teams were instructed to arrive at the Lincroft campus for a “briefing” at 1 p.m. Friday, where communications media instructor Matt Montemorano handed each team an envelope containing specific instructions.
Rule Number 1: All videos must be finished and submitted in exactly 48 hours. All writing, shooting, editing and special effects must be completed within that time.
The envelopes also contained a number of twists like a list of props and a line of dialogue that had to appear in every film and rules that each team had to abide by. Some, like the rule against realistic-looking weapons on campus, were simply there to ensure a safe and trouble-free experience for both the entrants and the campus. By a little after 1:30, the teams were all officially on the clock. Many groups, like the “Me TV” team, spent most of the first day writing. Then it was on to shooting, and a whole lot of improvisation.
“All of us,” said Sergio Casal, a “Me TV” team member and current Brookdale film student, “are heavily involved in this production. From writing to acting to shooting to editing, we all try to contribute. For something like this, you have to.”
Their film, “Me TV,” was based on a group of friends who purchase a futuristic “Me TV” device, which sucks them into the television and then malfunctions, abruptly switching them from program to program, genre to genre, as another friend watches and eventually tries to rescue them.
Brookdale graduate Paul McLerman described it as a way to get all of his team’s ideas into one cohesive picture.
“There were three genres we could have picked from,” he said. “Crime, sci-fi or romance.
We also had to use a chess board, a key and a picture frame in some way, along with the line ‘I don’t know how you found me, but…’ This film was a great way for us to use all of it – all the genres and everything – and still incorporate all of these different ideas we had.”
After filming a good deal of the video offsite earlier in the morning, the team set up shop in the basement and powered right through to the wee hours of the morning.
On Sunday morning, as Magee had predicted the previous afternoon, there was a mad dash to the finish, teams struggling and rushing to get their films edited and whittled down to an even seven minutes prior to the 1 p.m. deadline.
“As always, we overshot,” he admitted. “We had enough footage for at least a 20- minute film. I fell asleep for an hour while we were editing, sometime around 7 a.m., and woke up in a panic.”
Amazingly, however, the “Me TV” crew and eight of their ten competitors were able to finish their films on time. Watching them all Sunday night, you never would have guessed that they were written, shot, and edited in less time than it takes to receive a movie from Amazon.
Some, most notably “Me TV” and Justin Guerrieri and Rick Cook’s “III”, looked as if they had been months in the making.
And it showed in the judging.
“Me/TV” ended up taking home awards for First Place, Best Direction (for Fahey), BestActor (Fahey again) and Best Actress (for team member and former Brookdale student JoanneWilson).
Adam Shaljian, director of photography for the film, took time out to thank Brookdale for both the opportunity and the support they had received throughout the contest.
“Everyone here has been absolutely awesome,” he said. “They let us use equipment, facilities, basically everything we needed. This production would have been terrible without them.”
In the end, though, it was not somuch about the bragging rights or even the $300 prize – which the team plans to spend on a bar tab – that the “Me/TV” team took away fromthe contest. It was the challenge to try something new and somehow pull it off.
“Even if we didn’t win,” said Fahey, “it would’ve been worth it. Sometimes you need reasons to make movies. There’s a million reasons not to between work, scheduling and all that stuff. It’s good to have a reason to actually make one and seeing everyone laugh and react theway they did to our film, it makes it all worth it.”
Most of the “Me/TV” crew currently live in NewYork City, where they are working, acting, editing, directing and striving. Striving to make good on their dreams and the community college that gave them their start.
All films and a complete list of winners from the 48 Hour Film Fest will be available for viewing as of Friday, June 8 at www.BrookdaleCC.edu