Staying on top of the latest, greatest tools and techniques

Filmmaking for corporate clients can be rewarding, both financially and artistically. And, it can present unique challenges, due to the variety of commercial processes, the complexity of executive personalities, and a perpetual preoccupation with ever-evolving technologies.

On the set of the film "Yes"
On the set of the film “Yes”

Don’t get me wrong, there’s quite a bit of satisfaction in getting an epic, cinematic shot of an industrial paper shredder from a skyscraping crane. And nothing makes me prouder than talking down an excited CEO, then having him or her deliver their company’s message in a genuine, professional, authoritative manner. But, these days, perhaps nothing is more important than keeping on top of breaking technologies in filmmaking – and their effective application to an ever-more video-saturated populace.

Recently, I ventured into an eery underworld of filmmaking – from which emerges the future of filmmaking … the world of Film Challenges.

I stumbled across a casting call for a local production team preparing for what was described as a 48 Hour Film Challenge. To me, a 48-hour film challenge involves a company who’s got cash, needs a professional video yesterday, and is willing to pay today.

This is another type of 48 Hour Film Challenge, and it is the most raw, demanding, guerilla-style filmmaking experience you can imagine.

At a pre-Challenge party on Friday night, at 7 p.m., all the production teams simultaneously receive the rules for the Challenge, including a genre for their film, a required line of dialogue, and a required prop. The films must be three minutes or less, including title and credits. And the films must be turned in NO LATER than 7 p.m. Sunday night … 48 hours of filmmaking fantasy camp … with judges!

The teams write, shoot, edit, including composers and marvelous soundtracks, and master their films in 48 hours – and not a minute more, or they’re disqualified.

The experience is like no other in film or video production. The sheer exhilaration of staying up until 4:30 in the morning, for two straight days, to compete with young adults (some more than half my age), may have made it worth it. But, add to that, the opportunity to essentially bunk for two nights with an unfamiliar group of dedicated filmmakers – teach and learn, give and share – as a filmmaker, it’s profoundly rejuvenating.

The experience provides unusual opportunities to work with young film school talents, who have access to and expertise with the latest and greatest software and film gadgets. It allows a professional corporate film producer an unusual freedom to try techniques, experiments, or tricks that corporate convention, limited budgets, or tight schedules may not permit.

The experience is rewarding on many technical and spiritual levels. And, it’s been valuable for my business, as well. And, it’s not just because I’m happier, and even more excited to create dynamic, attractive depictions of my client’s businesses and products. There is nothing more valuable than hands-on access to some of the latest video editing add-ons and optimization techniques. Plus, the film challenge gave me the opportunity for trial-and-error successes with experimental camera techniques, P.O.V.s, and software tools. It has made ours a better production company.