Written by Clare Isabel Ee | Image provided by 13th Floor Productions
It doesn’t take an extensive knowledge of filmmaking to know that 48 hours is a terribly short time to write, plan, and shoot an entire short film. But ever since an American duo, Mark Ruppert and Liz Langston, started the 48 Hour Film Project (48HFP) a few years ago, amateur and professional filmmakers have taken on the challenge.
Here’s how the 48HFP works: It takes place over one single weekend, non-stop. On Friday night, the organisers assign a character, prop, line of dialogue and genre, all of which must be included in the movie. By Sunday, you have a film.
In 2013, a group of Yale-NUS students tackled it head on, and emerged stronger, wiser, and with their short film Holding On to show for it. Their production team is called 13th Floor Productions, and for most of them, it was the first time making a film. Ever.
“I figured that [the project] would be a good way to delve into the practice of filmmaking without requiring too much initial time investment,” assistant director Timothy Chua (Class of 2017) said. “I learnt so much about myself, my friends, and making films within those 48 hours, and will remember this experience for a long while.”
“Admittedly, it was an arduous, sleep-deprived weekend, but seeing our efforts come to fruition is a very rewarding experience nevertheless,” director Eugene Chua (Class of 2017) added.
13th Floor Productions, along with all other groups from Singapore, was assigned the ‘buddy film’ genre, a character named Malone Lim who drove a taxi, a guitar, and the line, “The book says it is important not to miss this step”. It was seemingly random enough to elicit a creative response, and what emerged was a short film about two childhood friends “on the verge of separation and adulthood,” who spend their last few days together reliving their past and trying new things for the last time in a long time.
Timothy, Eugene and 10 other Yale-NUS students faced a barrage of problems – bad weather, sound quality, location and scheduling conflicts. However, the 48-hour rush proved to be a blessing rather than a curse.
“Having a time limit placed on us helped us focus on creating an actual product, instead of wandering around looking for concepts up in the air,” Eugene said upon reflection. “The air of competition also helped to motivate us in keeping to the filming schedule and ensured that we had a finished product by the end of that weekend.”
13th Floor Productions is currently looking for other projects to take on to hone their filmmaking skills. Watch Holding On below and stay tuned to them on Vimeo.