It’s that time of year again – the 48Hours Film Competition. How do you possibly follow up a Grand National win? As it turns out, really quite literally.
The annual 48Hours Film competition is exactly what it sounds like. Participants are challenged to conceive, write, shoot, and cut a short film in a 48 hours weekend. Each team is provided a set of specific prompts that they must include in their finished film. 2017 was our third year competing as team Chillybox. In 2015 we made it through to the grand national finals with our film Clean Getaway, and in 2016 we were named Grand National Champions with our short (Time) Travel Centre.
This year, the 48 Hours organisers decided to switch things up. In addition to the standard prompts and requirements, they introduced a new, optional bracket for experienced teams called “Ultra”. Teams that elected to take on the Ultra challenge would be given an additional, harder-difficulty element to include in their film. No one had any idea what this element would be, that was part of the gamble. Having taken out the top prize in 2016, we figured we had no excuses not to try, so we signed up to give Ultra a go.
The night of the launch, we were eagerly awaiting our prompts. First – the standard prompts were announced:
Character: A female
Physical Element: A collision
Sound Effect: The Wilhelm Scream
Technical Element: Smash Cut
Not so bad, but then, the Ultra prompt:
Ultra: Create a sequel to any of your team’s previous 48 shorts AND include the required elements from that year.
Not only did we have to conceive and execute an idea including the standard prompts, now it also had to be a sequel to one of our previous 48Hours entries and include the prompts from that year as well. We’d signed up for a challenge, and we got one.
Our bench of previous 48Hours entries as team Chillybox was not particularly deep, and we knew almost immediately which film we’d be developing a sequel for. Working with the same cast and crew as we did in 2016, our winning film (Time) Travel Centre was the obvious candidate. This meant the additional elements we had to include from 2016 were:
Genre: Time Travel
Character: Charlie Flowers – Thoughtful
Line of Dialogue: “One more time.”
Technical Element: Rack Focus
While the cliffhanger ending of (Time) Travel Centre may seem to lend itself to a sequel, we had really never intended to take the story any further than there. As a result, we had absolutely no idea what a sequel would be about. We brainstormed late into the the night, bouncing increasingly absurd ideas around. Is it a post-time apocalyptic hell-scape? Do we retell the whole story from Donna Waterman’s perspective? Does society recover from the temporal-catastrophe, but impose dystopian anti-time-keeping regulations a la airport security post 9/11? Ultimately, we decided we’d pick up the story directly following the events of the first film, and answer as few questions as possible to keep the cliffhanger mystery alive. Fortunately, the genre prompt, “Thriller”, fit with our previous entry, so we weren’t totally out of our element. Imagine if we’d have to do the same thing but as a musical?
Telling two halves of a story over a year a part presents some challenges, continuity being big one. On the Saturday morning, our lead actor, Kate Simmonds, dyed her hair to match her appearance in the original film. Our supporting actor, Chris Parker, had to undergo a similar impromptu make-over. Our goal was to create a film that could be played back-to-back with the original seamlessly.
While the finished film, Time Terminal, was only ever an Auckland city finalist, we are still very proud of the finished product. We are extremely grateful to get to work with such a talented and hard-working group of people: writer and director Thomas Sainsbury, leads Kate Simmonds and Chris Parker, and a whole crew of dedicated creators. Given the prompts, restrictions, and particularly the Ultra requirements, we feel that Time Terminal ticks all the boxes.