This weekend was my 7th entry into the DVMission 48 hour film challenge which takes place in Portsmouth every year. I team up with James from Maddogs Productions and we enter under the guise of Team Maddogs.
The premise for those unfamiliar, is that we are given a Title, Genre and Line of Dialogue that we have to use to produce a 2 minute film in 48 hours.
This years obstructions were:
Title: The Perfect 20
Line of Dialogue: Shatner don’t surf
As you can probably tell this stumped us for a while, but before long we had beer, pizza, and 2 scripts. One of which was a serious documentary, the other was a comedy involving a bank heist. We decided to run with the bank heist script, but after failing to secure a proper location or more than 1 actor, we were left with no ideas by the end of the Friday.
Back to the drawing board
By 10am Saturday, we had only 2 resources; a single actor, and a location (an old barn currently being renovated.)
So what did we do?
I was informed that the barn was filled with some old computers, which fit into the cyberpunk theme, and so I wrote a short script that involved Ben playing a man who wakes up with duct tape on his face and fed instructions from an old computer screen.
You can watch the finished film here:
The ideas behind it (spoilers)
Okay, so Team Maddogs LOVE computer games, but this wasn’t just an excuse for us to completely nerd out by creating a real life text based adventure game, first person shooter and MMO.
The idea is that computers now control humans in games, so the monitor is a throw back to text based adventure games, instructing the human what to do. Ben himself does not see the AI with the health bar, he just sees what the computer screen tells him to do.
We also see Ben playing the second character – which just highlights the fact that all the characters look the same (or are very limited in choice) in these old MMO’s and first person shooters.
We managed to get the ‘line of dialogue’ in by using shatner_dont_surf as the main protagonists game handle. (Yes we were allowed to have it written instead of saying it!)
Also as a little nod to our previous adventure as Team Maddogs, we used ph0enix_MadD0G as a nod to the organiser Jinx, who kept saying that Maddogs would rise from the ashes like a phoenix after I said it was looking like we might fail again (we even had our own hashtag).
— DVMISSION (@DVMISSION) November 14, 2015
How we made it
We shot the film in chronological order, using about 10 lights and a Canon 5D with prime lenses. For the first person view, Ben had to hold the camera extremely close to his chest, with James following him around to take the various items (knife, potion) as he disarmed them, and me following around with a light to make sure it was as lit as possible.
The special effects were all done in After Effects by the very talented James Bailey.
The looting shot
The hardest (and dare I say it most amusing part) was filming the shot where the 2nd character loots the 1st character. For that, James attached the camera to the tripod, duct taped the gun to the camera and then picked up the whole tripod and moved it into position, setting the tripod down next to Ben.
Then we stopped recording, took a photograph, and made Ben lie absolutely still whilst we taped around him with masking tape.
After that Ben jumped up, got into the next costume and then lay back down again. We took another photo, and switched between the two and did things like move fingers and arms back into exactly the same position.
Once happy, we began shooting again (bare in mind we had 1 take to get the last shot right).
Well, we’re extremely pleased with the result, and couldn’t have asked for a better reaction at the premiere night! We didn’t receive any nominations or awards, but the level of films this year was extremely high and with it the competition was fierce!
We cannot wait till next year!
I also have to say a huge thanks to Jinx for starting DV Mission 10 years ago, who has now stepped down from the competition. It’s one of those events I both dread and look forward to in equal measures and it’s most certainly a highlight of the year!