How to Make a Film in 48 Hours


If you’re a filmmaker and haven’t been a part of the 48 Hour Film Project, we’d highly recommend you try it for several reasons.  First, the contest forces you to be create.  There’s simply no way around it.  You pay the sign-up fee and you’re held publicly accountable to create and show a film.  What’s better practice than that?  Second, it forces you to be creative.  If you couldn’t figure this out already, there’s no dilly dallying in this contest.  It feels like an actual race and you’ve got to take your ideas and literally run with them.  However, you’ll find that the added pressure might actually bring out some really creative ingenuity in you and your teammates.  Lastly, it gives you the opportunity to showcase your work, network with other local artists, and if you do well, win prizes!  Last year’s first place filmmaker (at the Detroit competition)  won a $5,000 development deal with truTV.  Not to mention, BROBIEfilms took home a few hundred dollars worth of software and royalty free music for coming in third place.

Now we’ll get off our soapbox and actually share with you how to make, or at least how we made, a film in 48 hours.  The information listed is a summary of the whole experience, chopped down and laid out in a timeline format.  Those of you considering entering in 2013 will find this helpful.  Others who were hoping for 3 easy steps, will just have to wait for future posts.


Friday, July 15, 2012

7:00 p.m. – 7:45 p.m.

Sign in and pick up the required “film elements.”  In order to keep the contest fair, all teams are assigned a random genre, and given a number of elements that they must include.  These elements are a character, prop, and line of dialogue.  Our assigned genre: Road Movie.  Our required film elements: Marvin Greenberg, Nail Clippers, and “Momma told me not to come.”

7:45 p.m. – 8:10 p.m.

Drive back to base camp.

8:10 p.m. – 8:12 p.m.

Stop in Jimmy John’s and grab dinner.  Freaky fast.

8:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Scarf down Jimmy John’s and begin discussing ideas with writing team.

9:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

Team brainstorming and collective panic.  ”Is this really happening?  Are we going to pull this off?”


Saturday, July 16, 2012

12:00 a.m. – 12:10 a.m.


12:10 a.m. – 3:30 a.m.

Actually start putting something on paper.

3:30 a.m.

Print the script and get some sleep.  Pray it makes sense when you wake up.

3:30 a.m. – 7:30 a.m.

SLEEP!  It’s super important to get some sleep!

8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.

Breakfast and table read.  (It was the actors first time looking at the script, and it was our first time reading it again.  Needless to say, we had a lot to talk about.)

8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

Team meeting.  Get the whole team on the same page for how the day will operate.  (For most of our cast and crew, it was there first time on a film set.)

9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Actors get in costume and the crew gets the first scene set up.

10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Shoot 1/3 of scenes.  Panic.

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Eat a quick lunch in an air-conditioned house.  Get the clowns in makeup.  Move all of the equipment in a pick up truck to the pool location.

2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Spend nearly 2 hours setting up the essential “Marvin falling in pool” shot.  Nail the shot in one take!  Commend Marvin on his excellent face plant.  Spend an hour shooting the rest of the pool footage.

4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Sit in the back of a pick-up truck in order to film your whole cast in a Model A.  Have the rest of the team migrate to your final location.

7:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

Shoot the remainder of the film indoors.  Indoor stuff can take a lot of time due to lighting setups.


Sunday, July 17, 2012

12:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m.

“That’s a wrap!”  Pack up and head home.

1:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.

Sleep like a little baby.

8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Editing.  Attempt to get as much done as possible.  Freak out because it’s going slower than you expected.

12:00 p.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Chow down a sandwich and chug some Mountain Dew.

12:15 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Kick things into overdrive.  Finish editing.  Add sweet rock music from The Bends.  Sound mix/edit the film.  Burn the DVD.

6:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Race down to Royal Oak in order to drop off the DVD at the official 48HFP “drop off” location.

6:30 p.m. – 6:35 p.m.

Go to the bathroom because you’ve been holding everything in for the past 48 hours.

6:35 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Drive home.

7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Edit an outtake reel for the cast and crew, and head over to the wrap party.

8:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Wrap party!  Eat cake, share stories, and watch the finished film + outtakes together.


Questions?  Comments?  Leave them in the comment box.

Related posts:

Forever Lazy: Deleted Scenes and Outtakes
Behind the Scenes of Detective Diaries
How to Create a Surreal Dream Effect

One Response to “How to Make a Film in 48 Hours”

  1. Wes Urbanik says:

    Wow! You guys have almost no time for sleep. Sounds like a lot of fun though, makes me want to do one.

Leave a Reply to Wes Urbanik