AVA’s 48-hour filmmaking event expanded to a second Gig City
It may be too late to go out and get your cinematographer mojo on for Capture. The films are posted and the winner announced—but both the films and the process are still worth a look.
In 2013 and 2014, the Association for Visual Arts’ annual 48-hour filmmaking event gave everyone in Chattanooga 24 hours to shoot up to four 30-second clips of video, and then assigned teams of editors and musicians to edit and score a short film in slightly less time than that.
This year, the bones of the assignment haven’t changed, but in late September, AVA partnered with KC Digital Drive and the Kansas City Film Society to include filmmakers and editing/music teams in Kansas City. KC was the second city in the country to roll out one-gigabit Internet soon after Chattanooga did a few years ago. Footage was shot by people in both Kansas City and Chattanooga, and editing teams used video from both cities to make films on the theme of “origins.”
Alex Cruikshank of Carbon Five’s Chattanooga office and Andrew Armstrong with Co.Lab and The Enterprise Center wrote an app that allowed shooters to quickly upload files up to almost 100 gigs, either on a website or directly from their mobile device. All editing suites could access the footage.
Chattanooga filmmaker and AVA board member Bobby Stone has been involved in Capture from the beginning.
“I always thought this project was a great way to show off what you could do with a Gig,” says Stone. “I’m video guy, and a lot of what we do nowadays is move around a lot of data. The biggest chunks of data you have are video files.”
Recently, he says, a team from Discovery was in Chattanooga shooting a pilot. Every day, they used the Gig connection at Co.Lab to upload the day’s footage to California.
“The idea of two editing teams being able to share the same footage that was shot that day is pretty phenomenal,” says Stone. “They couldn’t have done that if they didn’t have the Gig. They got the footage there a day ahead of what they would normally have been able to do, which would be to pop it on a hard drive and put it in a FedEx box.
“One of the guys told me the stuff copied from his laptop to their hard drive in California faster than he could copy it to the hard drive he had plugged into his gear,” he adds.
Stone admits to feeling a bit evangelical about the possibilities of Gig connectivity for his industry. Sure, the film industry itself is heavily concentrated in California, but ultra-fast connectivity combined with lower cost of living in Chattanooga could make the difference between life and death for a film company.
One of the best special-effects companies in the world recently went out of business, he says, because the cost of doing the work is so high and pressures to keep their fees down are so great that they couldn’t make any money.
“There’s no reason we couldn’t have special-effects houses from L.A. move here where their people could have a better quality of life for much cheaper and they could do Hollywood work and send footage back and forth all day,” says Stone.
OK—but are the Capture films any good?
Making a film in 48 hours may sound like a creative fire drill, but the resulting films are sometimes amazing. They occupy a weirdly compelling territory that combines just about every look and feel you could imagine in the source footage—lyrical virtuosity and homey authenticity, conventional and cutting edge, natural beauty and harsh concrete, drone-shot aerial footage and smart phone in the backyard.
And because this year’s filmmakers had to use both Kansas City and Chattanooga footage, that eliminated any “promotional film” feeling that sometimes crept into the first two years’ work.
“The interesting thing about Capture is watching what different editors do with same footage,” says Stone. Many of the same images are seen in different film, creating a strange sense of familiarity, even when the films are very different.
The winning film, from a Kansas City team, has a lyrical feel, with a wordless sound track. One Chattanooga film used poetic spoken word as a key part of the sound, taking the final piece a more narrative direction. The other Chattanooga film dove deep into narrative, relying on a shooter that had used actors and staged a scripted framing sequence with an astronaut from Chattanooga and mission controller in Kansas City.
You can see all the films at capturefilmproject.org
Rich Bailey is a professional writer, editor and (sometimes) PR consultant. He led a project to create Chattanooga’s first civic web site in 1995 before even owning a modem. Now he covers Chattanooga technology for The Pulse and blogs about it at CircleChattanooga.com. He splits his time between Chattanooga and Brooklyn.