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This weekend was an extremely busy one, as we entered the Colchester Film Festivals 48 Hour Film Challenge. The challenge was simple enough; on Saturday lunchtime we received an email which contained details that needed to be included in the film. These where a title, a line of dialogue and an action. We then had forty-eight hours to complete the film.

Before the challenge, I personally was given very little warning of its existence; we had applied months before to take part; yet it was not until Friday morning that we remembered. This left us at a disadvantage in terms of pre-production; we had no time to secure locations, extra equipment or source suitable actors.

So at midday (technically shortly after) we received our details. The given title of our film was ‘Popcorn Artist’, it had to include the line “I’m not evil, just misunderstood”, and the action of a character looking in a mirror, turning away and then looking back into the mirror.

Seeing this information led to a state of panic; the action was much more specific than we’d been expecting and the title left us very little to go on. Two hours later we had a vague idea; had managed to get a friend to act and had purchased numerous bags of popcorn from a local supermarket. We subsequently filmed into the evening; improvising almost completely and hoping the results would give us further ideas.

This technique proved to work for us; after a couple of hours editing the pieces we had filmed together a narrative soon became obvious to us. A script was written during the night and the Sunday shoot was planned. The story had become that of a man who has super-powers (involving popcorn) that hinder his day-to-day life and make society shun him.

So on Sunday, filming went much smoother due to us having a plan. We got all the shots done fairly quickly with the local Odeon cinema even being nice enough to let us film a sequence in their foyer (and provide us with free popcorn!).

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So yesterday afternoon was spent in a haze of editing and sound recording. Due to the microphones available to us being far from brilliant at gathering location sound; we had decided early on to use a voiceover; which needed to be written and recorded. The edit of the film came together reasonably fast; many of our sequences where shot in order meaning it was simply taking the best takes and putting them together.

A little colour grading was completed to give the film a de-saturated look and the flashback sequences were put in black & white before being raised in contrast to give them a ‘Memento’ style feel. The ending of the film was changed rather drastically from our plans as the ending we came too seemed to be fitting.

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Not being that proficient as a sound person, I cannot go into too much detail as to exactly what was done; other than I left my friend, Ashley alone with a silent film for two hours. When I returned the sound was almost completed and had (as sound always does) improved the film drastically.

After a couple of touch up the film was ready submit and so it was at 2am last night (10 hours early). The final film can be seen at www.vimeo.com/purplecamera/popcornartist and if it is shortlisted will be screened at the festival.

Lessons learnt from the competition would be the involvement of more pre-production prior to the event beginning. The entire process would have been much smoother if we had had several ideas that could have been adjusted to the given details and also if we had been able to confirm actors in advance; meaning we could have actually had more than a single character. However the approach we did take did wield results and I am fairly happy with the film created.