Every year teams of local filmmakers run frantic though the city for two days in the hopes of taking home a win from the 48 Hour Film Fest. In 2015 NUVO followed the winning team for the weekend, seeing what it takes to pull together an entire production in such a short time. Next week in Atlanta, Swipe Left Productions' film Dessert will screen alongside 128 other films where an international panel of judges will select the Best Film of 2016. The top 10 films will be screened at the Short Film Corner at Cannes 2017. We chatted with Elizabeth Friedland, one of the team members about the film and their potential to win.
NUVO: Lay out the timeline of events that happened after you guys took home the win from 48 Hour. Where did the film go next? What was the process like?
Elizabeth Friedland: The win took awhile to sink in; we still couldn't believe we won. We wanted to ride the wave of excitement and momentum, so right away we buckled down on a new script. Our favorite movie has always been When Harry Met Sally, and we wanted to create something along the same lines; something that explores the complicated relationship between two opposite sex friends who may or may not have feelings for one another. We ended up writing The All Nighter, our new short (clocking in at about 30 minutes in about a month, after countless nights at Dorman Street with a little help from Prince's "Purple Rain." (It's bizarre, but whenever we got stuck on a line or plot point, we'd cue up that song on the juke box and before it was done, we'd find genius.) We cast the film last fall using professional actors from both Indy and LA, and we started production, but unfortunately our schedules got in the way. We're hoping to pick it back up again this year with the same cast and crew.
NUVO: What kind of feedback did you get from the film?
Friedland: It was interesting to watch people react to it; often times they'd laugh at parts I hadn't thought of as funny, or find poignant moments that I would gloss over. Watching it with an audience is terrifying and amazing.
NUVO: What do you plan to do with film in the future?
Friedland: We'd like to clean it up a bit and take care of the loose ends we weren't allowed to do for the 48 Hour Film Project due to time constraints — dub the audio, fine tune the music selections, etc. Ideally, we'd love to submit it to a few film festivals and use it as proof of Swipe Left Production's potential as we work on other films.
NUVO: Have your thoughts/reaction to the film changed at all?
Friedland: I feel like I'm harder on myself on it than I was at first. I still like it; I think the story is original, and the twist is something you don't see coming, but because I know it so well, I tend to just focus on the errors. I guess that's normal!
NUVO: How did the process of the 48 Hour Film Fest impact you when you were making it and has it changed your creative approach in any way?
Friedland: Filmmaking is bizarre — especially in 48 hours. You go into the weekend not having a single clue what you're going to come up with — if anything — and magically two days later you have this amazing little creation that has a little bit of the entire team in it. It's hard to even remember how the idea came about, or who was responsible for what. It feels so organic. The whole process is magical; it's a little bit of a miracle just to find a creative partner.
You've got to feel comfortable opening up and sharing these intimate and sometimes wacky ideas you have floating through your mind. You have to feel safe enough to critique the concepts and refine the story. You have to respect them enough to know it's all coming from a good place, and trust them enough to know they care just as much as you do about making this amazing. And, perhaps most importantly, you have to like them enough to not want to murder them after spending every single day for several weeks on end together. And then you see actors bring your characters to life, which is... weird. And amazing. And if that's not enough, you rally this crew that, for some inexplicable reason, not only gets your vision and sees this new world you're trying to create, but wants to forgo sleep and a social life for an entire month to help you build that world and make it look and sound and feel gorgeous. It all boils down to that relationship; you can overcome insane deadlines and low budgets and writing blocks, but forming that collaboration is essential. And tough.