48-hour Film screenings
Wednesday, June 25
Madame Walker Theatre
Group One: 6:30 p.m.
Group Two: 8:30 p.m.
Arriving at the alley between iMOCA and Canal Apartments shortly after 6:30 in the evening, I was concerned I had missed a crucial part of the 48-hour Film Project: genre selection. Fortunately, after Dorothy Henckel’s gracious greeting, she informed me filmmaker David Yosha and his crew were unhappy with their original selection, thriller/suspense, and were awaiting the “wildcard” (other groups tossed back romance, musical and western) genre. Yosha and his crew were taking a gamble — after a group chooses to forfeit their initial genre, they cannot switch a second time.
Prior to wildcard, Phil Barcio (producer for Indy’s competition) informed the groups gathered that they must use the line, “Let me set the record straight,” incorporate a specific prop (this year it is any type of helmet), and must name a character either Dennis or Denice Olsen, who must be a dentist, in order for their films to qualify. Altering one word from the given line results in disqualification. In addition, the short films must only be four to seven minutes in length. As Barcio opens the envelope containing this group’s genre (and fate), Henckel whispers her apprehension — should they have kept suspense? Barrcio reveals their wildcard: “fable.” Now Yosha and company (their group is called Spontaneous Combustion) are set to embark on a long weekend of filming and editing. They will return to deliver their work Sunday night.
After a night of writing (I am told it took four hours of discussion and about an hour of writing, credit being given to Dan Barden), the crew has gathered on Massachusetts Avenue, at the Chatterbox, after relocating from the Scholar’s Inn. As the Chatterbox is not scheduled to open until 6p.m., they will rush to complete filming indoors and will finish the shoot outside. It is 10:30 a.m. on a bright Saturday morning and the work is already well underway.
As I approach this hectic scene, Yosha remarks that it is “no less insane than expected.” A veteran of commercials, Yosha owns Magnet Films. However, he has never participated in the 48-Hour Film Project and neither has his crew, friends who are willing to assist and interested in the filmmaking process.
As their equipment spills out onto the sidewalk, crewmembers set up inside. While Henckel selects the costumes (among many other tasks), actors mill around and the crew begins to cover everything in foil. Apparently, their script involves a woman attempting to warn her friends of an impending disaster. Cosmic rays will soon shoot down and unless they protect themselves in foil, they will die. As no one will listen to her (hence, the fable), she has covered her bedroom in foil. She has also created foil helmets (an interesting twist on the mandatory prop) for her stubborn friends. As I finish reading the script, Henckel repeatedly requests coffee grounds (why, I am not sure) and someone runs across the street to Starbucks to fetch the unusual prop.
Stepping inside the Chatterbox, it is easy to understand why it was selected for the shoot. The cozy interior is inviting and covered with mementos — as if predesigned for a small scene in a film. A tiny stairwell leads to the set upstairs, serving as the protagonist’s tinfoil covered bedroom. Outside, Mass. Ave. is bustling with shoppers and walkers, curious to catch a closer glimpse of the commotion. Henckel politely requests that they continue walking, as Yosha films near the window. A veteran of short films, Henckel appears to be a valuable member of this crew. She is on a panel for the Indianapolis International Film Festival, judging short films, and remarks that the best shorts cut out unnecessary scenes and keep only what is imperative to the script.
Returning to the scene, I find Yosha crouched on the ground, filming the exterior scenes. I inquire how the brief, but intense rainstorm affected the shoot. Henckel informs me of the mad dash to protect the equipment, but she apparently had it under control, as a couple crewmembers were unaware of this small crisis.
Down the street, two teen boys remain fixed, standing next to Luna Music, texting away. As everyone else not involved with the shoot quickly walks past, the two remain. Henckel tells me Yosha came out to shoot and saw them standing there. He asked them to be a part of the film and now they are extras.
I leave the scene as they continue to wrap filming. Tomorrow, Yosha must edit and deliver the film by 7:30 p.m. to the same location they received the competition’s rules. After that, all films from Indianapolis will be screened on Wednesday evening, at the Madame Walker Theater. At 6:30 p.m. Group One will be shown (Yosha’s film will be screened during this time) and Group Two at 8:30 p.m. All information can be found at www.48hourfilm.com/indianapolis.