I just had a really awesome weekend, and I just would have to write it down. In so many ways the Motion Picture Society of Cebu’s 48-Hour Shootout is ultimately what Cebu filmmakers need right now. As I wrote on how I transitioned from being a videographer to a filmmaker, the best and fastest way for me to get on with my 10,000 hours is to simply make lots and lots of short films.
Coincidentally last month I found myself browsing a blog of a filmmaker who posted numerous short films under the category 48-Hour Shootout. So I went to the 48 Hour Film Project site and looked at the cities all over the world who participated, oops, no Philippines.
Forward to 2 weeks later, lo and behold, a friend just tagged me with this.
And the rest was history.
Here are my biggest take aways for the weekend:
So the shootout has 3 criteria we must adhere to in our films: No dialogue, Puso (hanging rice) should be one of the props, and there should be a slap.
Over and over again you will always find this phrase in the filmmaking world – “Show Don’t Tell”. However, we always tend to revert back to the easiest way of telling a story which is through dialogues. No blaming here for we grew up in an era of TV shows and Telenovelas. However, I totally believe that learning this principle in filmmaking is a must to every newbie like me. There’s really that artistic uniqueness if one can be able to relay a message even through pure visual presentation.
It’s my first time to create a no-dialogue film and it’s challenging. During our planning right after the launch of the shootout, Celso – my amazing storyteller friend – and I would have long minutes of silence thinking, “How can we tell this without telling this?”. It was tough, but was really worth it. Instead, for me it became a blessing because I started leveraging at other parts of fimmaking that’s often left out like production design, art dep and even sound design. We ended up really focusing on these aspects like getting of the right props, designing the room and the house, and spent 80% of editing time on sound design.
It’s 11 in the evening we were at McDonalds pouring our brains out on coming up with a new story. Panic starts sinking in. Just an hour before that we were told that we need to get permission papers to shoot at location of the story we came up with. It was so bad, we had to start from scratch – or not. We ended up evolving our first story and put the sequences in place and shoot it in our own house! And it was even better than the first story – magical!
It’s really getting late and we don’t have any actors yet. There was no one in our phonebook and facebook whom we texted replied. I was running my way down to memory lane, starting from elementary friends, then to high school, then college – boom! I remember having a collegemate John Launchille who looks exactly the character we need. We tracked him down, and 15 minutes later we were at his house. About to take the CPA board exams next month and without any acting experience he said, Yes! The next question is – can he act? Ohhhh..I just can’t wait to let you guys see his performance – magical!
And yes Celso became the other actor too – magical!
The rain was pretty much disturbing the following day. With all my forcing myself to think positive, on the other side, we don’t have dialogues so the rain noise is not a criminal this time. But yet, the rain was still a blessing that we used it as part of the story and added a whole different texture to it. And yes, magical!
Problems + Creativity = Magic!
I’m a believer of the power of pre-prod. I truly do. Planning. Casting. Location Scout. Storyboards. Rehearsals. Sequence Treatments. Lighting plans. Crew. But the 48 hour shootout just broke all the rules! And I don’t have any choice but really – as in really – complete surrender.
And I guess that’s what I’ve been trying to learn the past years. The art of complete surrender.
(Warning: Inspirational Talk Ahead) I was programmed in school to be in full control. So I grew up striving to be an academic achiever where you control everything – you control your destiny. My destiny was to be on top of the class and you can control it by simply studying hard and follow all the rules. In
short, just do enough pre-prod, and you’ll get it. Which I did.
But when I started in the “real” world, even right after quitting my job and started on my own – it was completely different. All the worsts can happen, is happening, and will happen. All sorts of problems come their way – not just weather problems but money, relationships, career, pressures, expectations, future, crime – the whole lot. No pre-prod here, unscripted. Raw. For the first years of my adult life I wanted to really take control, and I ended up hurting myself. It was only until recently when I started learning just to “allow” things to happen and make the best of it. No resistance. Just surrender.
And I believe the 48 Hour shootout experience was the biggest reminder for me. It was like the universe, a.k.a. God was telling me,
“Hanz, why not stop trying to control and just believe without any doubt that this will pull through. I’ll take care of the rest.”
Interestingly, now you know why we used this book in the film.
After 46 hours, we were at Above the Line Productions and submitted our film. That was the first time all the strained and exhaustion was settling in. Then we were interviewed even in my super low mental powers. And I was asked something like, “does winning matter?” and from nowhere, I answered:
“I guess, Winning against another team, no, it doens’t really matter. But winning against myself, yes it does. I have always been an amateur filmmaker, I guess will be all my life. I am 100% sure that I am a better filmmaker now comapred to the Hanz last Friday, 48 hours ago… It’s challenges like this that Cebuano filmmakers really need. This is a locked scheme to improve as a filmmaker, where there is now way else but up”
Truth: Even if just a few people would really put all their hearts and intentions on creating something they LOVE. Not for the clients nor even for a school requirement or trying to impress people. But simply because that’s who they are – they are story tellers, and artists who simply just want to be honest to themselves and express that honesty into films. Nothing can stop them. And if something does, it will just end up part of the story.
Live in love,