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Cover 09/04/2013

48 Hour Film Project returns to Orlando

Local filmmakers race the clock for a chance to win money and exposure at Cannes Film Fest

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Hans Christianson and TL Westgate

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TL Westgate, Jay De Los Santos and Corey Steib


At 4 p.m., after a furious rainstorm and a trip to a Halloween store to buy fake blood, shooting begins at the other location, a small hut in Blackmon’s backyard. It’s a structure so creepy it’s dubbed the “murder shack.” It needs no dressing.

Rehearsals precede the shooting, and exhaustion and nerves emerge. “We’re all in a daze land right now,” Bretana says, while Carmona, who eventually plays her evil part to perfection, is struggling with lines thanks to her revealing, restrictive costume and the fact that she, like the other actors, just saw the script for the first time that morning.

“I’m sorry. I can’t do this right now. My tits are out,” she says. “I just need to look at [the script again]. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

At 5:15 p.m., we’re ready to film the scene in which Christianson is chained – for real, thanks to advice from sound technician Danny Page, who doubles as weapons specialist – to the rafters of the shack and repeatedly fake-punched by Torres. After multiple takes, though, their timing falters and Torres really punches Christianson in the mouth – a take regrettably not usable in the final cut – allowing a drop of real blood to mix with the fake.

Christianson: “I can taste the blood.” Torres: “If the freaking audience doesn’t like this scene …”

Technical challenges are overcome on the fly. “Good ol’ gaff tape,” proclaims production manager Jen Vargas. “There’s nothing it can’t do.” Adds camera operator De Los Santos: “I saw gaff tape deliver a baby once, like Doogie Howser.”

With no natural light left, shooting wraps at 8:15 p.m., with Christianson in just a bit of pain and Steib’s shoulders not too sore thanks to a comfortable spider brace for his Sony FS 100 camera.

Though the actors, cameramen and audio techs are done, in many ways the work is just beginning for Westgate on Saturday night and into Sunday. And it’s solitary work, indeed, as the director-turned-editor labors over the right takes, the right audio levels and the right royalty-free music choices, using Adobe Premiere and Adobe Audition to cobble together a finished film.

The only other team members still working are Bretana, creating credits; Blackmon, finishing graphics; and Vargas and De Los Santos, re-shooting footage of a moving car with their versatile GoPro camera. De Los Santos even doubles as last-minute voice-over talent. Westgate is clearly in his element. “I heard the boom pole,” he notes. “I need to use a different take.” Minutes later: “I just combined two sound effects to make a new one!”

Despite joking at 1:50 p.m. that “I’m going to kill somebody today,” by 4:10 p.m. Westgate has finally finished and invites the group to an impromptu screening in his living room. “I’d like to spend another week tweaking,” he says, “but for this event, it’s good.”

Drop-off and screening

For the group I was embedded with, the hard work and sleep deprivation paid off. After a couple of last-minute sound tweaks, they turned in their finished film at 7:20 p.m., relieved and ready for food and drink – and then sleep.

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