Sliding production schedules are a fact of life in Hollywood, but what can creative minds do when faced with an unyielding deadline? That’s one aspect of the Collaboration Filmmakers Challenge (CFC) that took place in Los Angeles over the last few weeks.
“There’s a magic in a deadline–something about having a limitation, a goal that’s very clearly defined. There’s a freedom in that,” said Bethany Orr, the 2012 CFC winner, when reached by phone. “Some filmmakers from last year weren’t able to make it, weren’t able to complete the challenge. But the vast majority of people were, even if they weren’t able to turn in the completed project. It’s just inspiring to see what’s possible.”
The contestants have exactly seven days to produce their film. In addition to their own project, each filmmaker must help another contestant with their movie.
“One week-I figured-was enough time to be able to produce something that had a fair chance of being decent. I just think that is the right amount of time. It is a challenge, but it is doable,” Orr explained.
The CFC champ said during orientation night, the teams are given the theme to use. Last year, it was a quote by writer P.J. O’Rourke. “They had us write five different pitches around that theme. The festival organizers were the ones who chose which pitch. I know some people who went and just tried to write a few scripts at once, but there really wasn’t time for that,” Orr said.
Saying she loves a good challenge, Orr admitted she had a lot of fun last year at CFC. Her strategy involved drafting a list of her resources, starting with the human resources she would need to complete the challenge.
“[I listed] all the people I knew in the industry who would be willing to donate their time or services. I went on the horn and tried to see who would be available to help,” she said. “Then I listed all of my physical resources. I have this kind of weird-looking dog and an orange Mini-Cooper. I knew that was available. And a gorilla suit.”
The technical side of things can be a significant hurdle to overcome during the challenge, particularly in post-production.
“When you have 48 hours for post, there are some really interesting issues that can come up. With my editor, we were handling a rendering problem-it just wouldn’t transfer into the format that we needed. We literally walked the hard drive down to the CFC offices,” she said, explaining how they met their deadline.
Now serving as a judge for the 2 nd Annual Collaboration Filmmakers Challenge, Orr looks back fondly at last year’s competition: “For me, it was a profound experience because just before the Collaborators Filmmakers Challenge, I had spent 3 ½ years of my life and around $22,000 making a 23-minute short film that I am very, very proud of. In one week, I made a 5-minute film of almost equal production value.”
On May 4 th , the top CFC films will screen at the Harmony Gold Theater in Hollywood.