Film Connection student Keith Huff’s Adventures doing the 48 Hour Horror Film Project!
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Working in the film industry often means putting in long hours to meet tight deadlines while having the resolve to not let technical difficulties and a whole host of other potential challenges stand in your way. Keith Huff, Film Connection extern with Herschel Zahnd at American Recording Co. in Louisville, KY, recently experienced firsthand just how unexpected setbacks can come into play on a project when he participated in the 48 Hour Horror Film Project on a short film called BainBridge.
Just as the name suggests, the 48 Hour Horror Film Project is much like the now-ubiquitous 48 Hour Film Project, except for its horror theme. Entrants are given a character, a prop, and a line of dialogue. Then they’re expected to complete all aspects of the film, including post-production, within the allotted 48 hours. Working under this super-tight deadline means running a very tight ship and getting everyone where they need to be and doing what they need to do is absolutely essential to the outcome of the project. And guess who was up to the task?
Keith Huff says, “The project was fast, and you had to be prepared. My first job was to sign everyone in and to get the location and music release forms organized. Then, I was working as Producer/PA. I did the jobs that were assigned to me and took initiative to get other jobs done without permission. Nobody said anything, so I guessed I was doing everything right.”
The 48 hour deadline also makes for some truly interesting experiences otherwise unheard of in the filmmaking world. Actors had a mere 10 minutes to practice a complicated sword versus torch fight scene. Mentor, Herschel Zahnd says, “We had to do the fight scene with a real flaming torch because we didn’t have the time to add flames in post-production the way you usually would in film. We were very fortunate since both actors had extensive training in combat, swordplay, and stunt work. This allowed us to pull off the scene safely and effectively. Even under a time crunch, safety first!”
Despite the breakneck speed, Keith says the whole whirlwind experience has only reaffirmed his commitment to the craft of filmmaking. “I was having too much fun for this to have been a job or school,” says Keith. “Everything felt natural and familiar to me. Even when we encountered problems, I was fast to react and fix the situation.”
What proved to the the biggest of challenges happened not during the actual filming but in post. Keith says, “I went home and crashed for four hours until I got the terrifying call that our editors were kicked out of their editing location and our backup computer had crashed. I returned Sunday morning where I watched the final pieces of the film being cleaned up.”
Herschel recalls, “We got everything done with just enough to render one version of the film. Unfortunately, a massive crash prevented us from crossing the finish line until 30 minutes past the time limit. But we still made an amazing film that the whole team is proud of, and we’re still eligible for the Audience Choice Award!”
Despite the technical difficulties that prevented the crew from turning BainBridge in on time, there’s definitely a silver lining. “Everyone was so excited by the idea that by the end of the 48 we had all decided there was a great deal more story there to tell,” says Herschel. Meanwhile, Keith’s initiative so impressed his mentor that he’s staying on as a producer of the expanded BainBridge project! A six-part web series is in the works to be filmed in the spring/summer of 2015.
As Keith Huff learned when filmmakers don’t allow setbacks to weaken their commitment to the project, even failures can become amazing opportunities. Keith’s dedication to a short-term project has now led to an expanded role in an even bigger project with his mentor!