My own personal 48-hour filmmaking experience

Reel Chicago's Julia Sarata, 48HFP Chicago producer Jerry Vasilatos, and Aaron Rasbury mix it up in the Lincoln Tap Room

Reel Chicago’s Julia Sarata, 48HFP Chicago producer Jerry Vasilatos, and Aaron Rasbury mix it up in the Lincoln Tap Room

Reel Chicago’s
Julia Sarata
offers a play-by-play
recollection of
her participation in
this year’s
48 Hour Film Project

After covering the 48-Hour Mixer in June — an event where filmmakers gather and, ideally, join forces to compete in a two-day filmmaking competition — I signed up as a scriptwriter for the team I got to know best during the night.

That’s when my anticipation began to brew.

Group members had committed (more or less) to various teams, and potential roles and locations were discussed. Before July 13th, however, there wasn’t much to discuss besides logistics, as the bulk of the material to work with wouldn’t be released until the competition actually started, which was about a month down the road.

It began with a Friday night kick-off. After the required elements for every film were announced and the genre for each individual film was picked out of a hat by the various team leaders, the participating filmmaker groups launched into a frenzy.

I signed up relatively late in the process, after my mother, who had already decided to be a part of the team I interviewed at the mixer, convinced me to join to help with the screenplay.

I only had experience writing screenplays as a result of 1). a really bad Terminator spin-off that I wrote when I was fifteen and 2). a screenwriting course I took my third year of college. I begrudgingly acquiesced, not because I thought it was a bad idea, but only because I’m a lazy millennial and this was a weekend project. But I gave it a go.

We met with our team for the first time at a training bar the evening of the kick-off event.

Dr. Phranque Wright, our team leader, had received the two genres we could choose from, as well as the standard prompts every group had to incorporate into their film. As people began to trickle in to the meeting place, so began the brainstorming and decision-making.

Which genre should we pick? Is this going to be a dark movie or a fun movie? Both?

I pulled out my laptop, fired up the free screenplay program I used in my college course, and began typing very very quickly.

Scenes were conjured up, revised, then scrapped at the acknowledgment of an impossibility or inconsistency. The cycle continued until all of the scenes we agreed on had an artistic and logical flow – at least on script. The rest would depend on a coordinated and appreciated grasp on the technical level.

Of course, there is work done by people on all fronts in producing any creative form of expression. Every job contributes to the final product of a film, especially the “details” that casual movie enthusiasts or virgin amateur filmmakers aren’t privy to experiencing on-screen. The story and acting can have the caliber of a [insert whatever is considered the paragon of high art in filmmaking], but the behind-the-scenes operations decide how well the abstract is communicated to the audience in a way that’s relatable, entertaining, or effective.



Where to see the 48 Hour films
The culmination to the 48-Hour Film Project — the films voted “best of” in every category — will be screened to an open audience this Thursday August 2, 7:30-9:30 p.m at Music Box Theatre, 3733 N Southport Ave. For info, click here.