For the 48 hour film project held in Nijmegen in 2010, I teamed up with Christian van Duuren to participate in the competition. If you haven’t heard of it, the concept is very cool. You assemble a team and then one Fridaynight you are assigned a genre, a character description, a line of dialogue and a prop. What follows is 48 hours of filmmaking madness. You can’t prepare a thing, everything has to be done within this time frame: script, rehearsals, shooting, music, editing. the lot.
So on Friday March 12, 2010 around 6:31PM we got the word: it was going to be a roadmovie, we had to have a character named Sylvana or Sylvano, the line of dialogue was: “That’s what I like about Nijmegen” and the prop was a birdhouse. We had a base of operations at the children’s wing of the local hospital where they had a TV studio set up. We had previously cast a couple of first time actors, we had two producers who would make sure everything would go smooth, a sound engineer, a runner and an editor. Christian and myself would share directing and filming duties.
Immediately after the announcement, we started working on the script. Because of the surroundings we decided on a story about a very sick girl whose siblings come to break her out of hospital for one last roadtrip to all her favorite spots. We spent the first night writing the script and rehearsing with the actors. In the morning we would start shooting the first scenes. With only a quick shower and some breakfast to sustain us, we ploughed through the first day. Things were going well, we were happy with the shots, but then, at the end of the day, something unforeseen happened. The memorycard we had filmed on most of the day was corrupt. We tried everything to get the material off there, but no luck whatsoever.
We had an emergency meeting where we discussed throwing the whole script overboard and starting fresh with a shorter, easier to shoot story. We debated into the night, but after an hour or two we started to realise that everybody was emotionally invested in the story we had begun to tell and we were committed to see it through. It was going to be an enormous challenge to reshoot and shoot the additional material we needed. Because of time constraints we decided to trim the script a bit, cut some of the more elaborate stuff, which was mainly embellishment anyway and make it into something we might just be able to pull off.
You can download the original script (pdf) here:
After a few hours of sleep, our last day had arrived. We started shooting early in the morning, our runner returning the cards to headquarters so our editor could start. Meanwhile my good friend Peter Nijland was working at creating the music for the film. It was a real challenge because he had no idea what he was scoring for. Also, in the film one of the actors played guitar and the score had to be an accompaniment to the guitar piece. It was hard to give him any direction, but the one thing I was completely sure about, was that for our opening theme, I wanted something that had the nervous energy and drive of the 28 weeks later soundtrack by John Murphy.
Incredibly, we pulled it off. We shot what we needed to shoot, it was edited very nicely by our editor, Peter really came through with the music and we were happy campers. Now we had to render the thing and drop it off on time at the designated drop off point. Rendering the film was our bottleneck. We were coming up hard against our deadline and it was going to be very close. In preparation for the render to finish, we had our whole crew create a corridor from the tv-studio to the exit of the hospital, holding open doors, for Christian to come running through with the finished film. I was waiting in my car, motor running, ready to slam the pedal down. Then I heard yelling. Here he comes! I’m ashamed to say I didn’t quite abide by every trafficlaw in existence that Sundaynight, but we did make it to the drop off with just a few minutes to spare.
A week later the awardsceremony took place and all of the participating teams would hear if they had won any of the categories. Seeing all of the movies in the screening the night before, I was confident we were a contender, but there was some serious competition. Eventually it was time to hear the jury’s verdict. And what a verdict it was. We ran the table that night:
– Best music
– Best use of Nijmegen
– Best cinematography
– Best directing
– Best actress
– Best movie
– Nominated for best editing
– Nominated for best sounddesign
We were ecstatic, flabbergasted, over the moon and speechless… Our film would now be entered into the overall US finals competition. In 2011 Christian, our lead actress, her friend and me traveled to the USA to be there at the finals during the Miami International Filmfestival. During the finals our film took a top 10 spot, along with the film from Amsterdam. The Dutch were representing!
Sylvana: Marleen Schamp
Kim: Marissa Schijf
Luuk: Roel Smeets
Customer: Ariana Skverer
Director: Christian van Duuren & Marcus Moonen
Scenario: De Kijkbuiskinderen
Editor: Merel van Nus
Producer: Xanne Jacobs & Inge van den Broek
Camera: Christian van Duuren & Marcus Moonen
Sound: Bas Olbertz
Music: Peter Johan Nijland & Roel Smeets
Runner: Yon van Lith