Sci-Fi-London 48hrs Film Festival

This blog is being written at the ungodly hour on a Monday morning, just hours before the hand in time to this year’s 48 hour Sci-Fi Film Challenge. The edit has been locked off… more than once, the vfx have begun and the audio mix is trying to keep up with the edit and its changes. And although heavy eyed and finger cramp is setting in, spirits are high…. or at least the hysteria has kicked in! It seemed like a good idea at the time and it was!

Having previously collaborated with James Cookson, he came to us with this competition entry he wanted to try. We had previously spoken about the exciting challenge of undertaking a 48/72hr film competition. So why not the Sci-Fi-London?




Huddled around a computer screen at 11am, coffee in hand, repetitively refreshing the page, we wait for our first criteria to appear. ‘Little Secrets, Big Lies’ – we have a title, our minds begin to wander. We continue to refresh. “Oh go on then, you can be my wingman” – the dialogue, we can’t help but laugh and cry a little inside! We soon receive the prop and action ‘A mug of steaming Liquid – A character sniffs the liquid then pours it away’ – we look at each other and then to our coffee cups… We finally receive the optional science idea. ‘Scientists create the first sentient Artificial Intelligence, but not evil or dangerous’ – our minds are now confused and blurred, but we begin to think and write…

With actors waiting and some kind of idea we head to our first location. We shoot, trying to cover all the angles and story plots we think we’ll need. But no time to overthink, back in the car and off to the next location. The car is packed, with actors who we’ve only just met, surrounded by camera and lighting kit. And nothing like a famous London boat race to slow us down! Just making the free parking,we stumble out of the car at the next location. We run in and set up the next scene. It’s done, and that’s actor number one wrapped! By the time we’re ready with our last location the final actor is ready and waiting. We shoot and mop up all the shots we think we need and call it a wrap. It’s midnight on day one… and we have forgotten to eat… with rumbling stomachs and media cards in hand we call it a night, hoping we have some kind of film to edit in the morning.

Feeling rested we all meet for a busy day of editing. We knew the film had to be between 3 and 5 mins and we hoped we had a good enough story in the rushes to do so. As we began to edit the story together, picking shots for both narrative and performance, we slowly began to piece together a story that we felt could work. Our team set up was simple – a lead editor and a lead audio mixer with a spare body to do any other bits such as Photoshop work, sourcing clips, taking over to rest the leads and copious amounts of coffee and tea runs!

Coffee Cup

As the edit developed, the film would be watched on the projector as we discussed changes and set goals for the next viewing. Each goal we set would be pushed back as further changes took place throughout the day. We were hoping to picture lock around 18:00… at 21:00 we were still editing, only this time surrounded by empty Dominos boxes.

We continued to work, the night soon became the early morning. The hours seemed to be running away from us, each look at the clock added another beat of pressure for time. With spirits high and a small 3 am hiccup… all the elements are compiled together for a final viewing. The subtle vfx and the effective audio mix brought the film to life as we all sat back and enjoyed our labour. We were happy, very happy, but there was something not quite right… the ending that we had watched a hundred times didn’t work. With the vfx and audio unchangeable, we made a minor adjustment that became our final seal over the film.
That was it… done! We had spent all night working and created something only 30 hours ago we didn’t know we could. And with that in mind, we left the room we had been imprisoned in all weekend to return to our normal working day, without sleep… apart from this cheeky little mid-rendering nap….

Nap Time