Making a film in 48 hours - organized chaos, but fun on both sides of the camera
Jason Zonay, the camera operator for one of the teams competing in the New Hampshire 48 Hour film festival (SHAWNE K. WICKHAM PHOTO / SUNDAY NEWS)
Welcome to the New Hampshire 48 Hour Film Project, a mad-dash romp through the magic of moviemaking. This is the fifth year New Hampshire has held the competition, and 26 teams from across the state signed up.
Each year, the films have to incorporate a required prop (this year it's a cantaloupe), a character (an IT specialist) and a line of dialogue ("When did this happen?").
Saturday afternoon, a half-dozen friends met in Ben Peirce's basement on Manchester's East Side. They've worked together before, and by midday, they have a working script and the first set is taking shape.
Peirce and co-writer P.J. Huot were up all night penning the script, about an indebted gambler named Charlie Price, who has to pick up some cash for the unsavory types to whom he owes money. When he finds himself in an apparent drug den with a dead hooker, Charlie unwittingly ends up calling a bored IT specialist for help instead of the mob's fixer.
Huot works as the technical director and camera operator for the Manchester Monarchs; he also does some camera work for the Red Sox. He loves the challenge of the 48 Hour Film Project.
"Despite how hard it is and the lack of sleep, it's really, really fun, and it's very rewarding," he said, "especially when everything comes together and you get a really good product out of it and a really good film."
There's something about the urgency of having just 48 hours that sparks creativity, Zonay said. "The challenge of it is why we all come and do it," he said. "It's surprisingly doable even though it's undoable."
Peirce teaches video production at Southern New Hampshire University, where they planned to shoot a scene Saturday night. His lead actor, Dan Larson, is a self-employed illustrator who got into acting a couple of years ago through the 48 Hour Film Project.
"Good or bad, succeed or fail, there's a real thrill to sitting in the movie theater," he said. "To actually see something you made up on the big screen is great."
Dominique Delprete, a communications major at Saint Anselm College, is the production coordinator on the film. She met Huot while doing an internship with the Manchester Monarchs, and signed on to help out with the film project.
While Syrene is working with Huot and Zonay to block out the shots he wants, Peirce heads upstairs to run through the script with his actors. His two dogs, Fenway and Vada, settle in beside him on the couch.
"So where does this take place?" she asks Peirce.
"Rhode Island?" she suggests.
"It does feel like Rhode Island, doesn't it," he agrees.
They settle on a name for their film, "Clear the Cache," a play on words that captures the film's conceit.
There's still 26 hours left.
The New Hampshire Union Leader is a media sponsor of the 48 Hour Film Project. Films will be screened Thursday at Cinemagic in two groups, at 6:30 and 9 p.m. For more, visit www.48hourfilm.com/en/newhampshire.