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48HFP Short Film Success Plan

June 12, 2018


Congratulations, you registered for the 48 Hour Film Project New Haven! (And if you haven’t, you’re going to soon, right? Right?)


If this is your first time or you’re just looking for some tips on how to make your filming weekend better, we got you covered!


We watched a bunch of previous 48HFPs so you didn’t have to; though, you should totally watch as many as you can. The 48HFP website makes it easy to check out films from different cities and different years. You should take advantage of this opportunity and study up to what makes a winning 48HFP.


To help, we compiled some tips based on these top 48HFPs. We’re not guaranteeing you’re going to take home Best Of if you follow every thing here but they might make your weekend go a little more smoothly. So without further ado, your 48HFP Tips to Success:


Cut Down On Your Writers: Once the 48HFP filming weekend officially kicks off and you have your genre and elements in hand your writers can get to work. Make sure your writer’s room doesn’t look like that of Saturday Night Live’s. Writer’s are egotistical, let’s get that out of the way first. Too many ideas and too many personalities can lead to a disjointed story. Assign one to two, three writers at the most to craft the story. And trust them to do their job.


Examples: Falling in Love in a Coffeeshop by Wax Idiotical, the 2015 1st Place film had two writers and Heart & Hull by Cortelyou Roadshow (2015 3rd Place film) and Big Shot (2017 2nd Place film) both had one writer apiece.


Maximize Your Locations: “Company Move” might be the last thing you want to see on a call sheet. During the 48HFP weekend you’re primarily going to be filming Saturday (and maybe even into Sunday morning). You cannot afford to lose precious time packing up equipment and moving to a second or even third location. When you’re location scouting in your pre-production process try to find something that can serve multiple purposes: offer different settings and base camp.


Examples: 2014 Best Of film Past Poets Now by Good Natured Dogs took advantage of a large house and yard to offer multiple set-ups; Plan R’s Second Chance (2015) turned a suburban house into a space colony; and Classic Stanley’s 2015 Turning the Tables utilized a college television studio, you might not have access to one of those but if you do more power to you!


Minimize Your Actors: You’re not filming season 7 of Game of Thrones, do your best to cut out or combine characters. This limits the number of actors you need to wrangle on set. As we mentioned above, you cannot waste time and if you’re sitting around waiting for your next actor (who only has two lines) to show up, you’re wasting time. Determine if the character is necessary or if another character can serve the same purpose, if not, cut them.


Examples: Dutch Elm Disease has become a master at maximizing actors - their 2014 and 2015 films Ties and Exit Protocol, respectfully, make use of two actors, with Exit Protocol doubling up on actress Lorraine Cink in two roles. On the opposite end is 2017’s Best Of film ...And All Points in Between by Making Pretend Productions, while featuring a rather large cast each segment is quick and provides a nice addition to the story.


Simpler the Better: Finally, remember, you have five to seven minutes to tell your film. Keep it short and keep it concise. The general rule of thumb is that one page equals one minute on screen time. Understand how stories work, the beginning introduces the setting and characters, the middle establishes the conflict, and the ending wraps up and concludes the story.


Woah. That seems like a lot to remember. And it’s certainly not full proof. Like any sort of tips & tricks, take and use what you want. But again, we can’t stress enough - go watch some past 48s. They’re a lot of fun.



The 48 Hour Film Project New Haven returns July 2018 for it's 8th season. Filmmakers from all over will come together and challenge themselves to make a short film in only 48 hours. 


All films will be screened at the The State House, New Haven


Regular registration ends July 17th and filming takes place July 27th-29th. 


The 2018 48 Hour Film Project New Haven is proudly presented by the Connecticut Office of Film, Television, and Digital Media

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