“My weekend was cooler than yours.” I’m not trying to be rude. That’s just the slogan of the 48-Hour Film Project (48 HFP) that I participated in August 2-4.
The 48 HFP can be explained in three easy steps. Step 1: Convince some friends (or be convinced) that participating in a marathon filmmaking session is a great idea. Step 2: Arrive at kickoff Friday evening at 7 ready to pick your film’s genre out of a hat and be assigned a character, prop and line. Step 3: Turn in a finished, 7-minute film by 7:30 p.m. on Sunday.
In addition to scrambling around Denver, writing the world’s fastest screenplay and filling my purse with cash and guns, I learned a few lessons applicable to this crazy agency life along the way:
Lesson #1: Everyone has something to contribute.
Even the smallest part of your project is important to its overall success. For example, one of the assignments was to wait at a costume store for the genre assignment. Armed with a modest budget, we were ready to buy props for anything from a horror movie to a Western musical.
Upon arriving, I introduced myself to a costume store employee named James, detailed the task and requested his help. As soon as we got the call (spy movie!), James happily pointed out every cool “master of disguise” costume in the store.
There were other 48 HFP teams on site as well, but they’d ignored James and he was more inclined to help us first. We were out the door ready to dress our actors while the other teams were still shopping.
Lesson #2: You’re only as good as your team.
Movies and marketing campaigns have a common thread: You can’t do it all by yourself.
We were lucky to have both seasoned professionals and novices on our team, which resulted in an unbeatable mix of experience and new ideas.
The lesson here? Whether you’re working on a short weekend project or a month-long campaign, surround yourself with the best talent. Not only will you have more confidence, but you’ll always have someone to also look up to and learn from.
Lesson #3: Plan ahead, plan ahead, plan ahead.
A few days after the film submission deadline, the public attends a 48 HFP screening and Q&A. The first question my team was asked: “How did you have time to create all of those graphics in 48 hours?”
Our secret was that every team member had a role and access to the proper equipment from the onset, including five professional graphic artists sitting at our home base, ready to start building whatever the script called for.
Lesson #4: Build suspense and be surprising.
One of the final lessons I learned from 48 HFP is that if you want to get a genuine reaction from your audience, you have to play some cards close to your vest. Yes, our film is AWESOME and we want to shout it from the social media rooftops, but as the audience screening process and ultimate champion selection are still in the works, we’re keeping quiet for now.
Obviously, you can’t launch a campaign before the client has signed off on it, but you can hold off initial presentations until you have enough work completed to really wow them. A great first impression is worth it!
As I write this, we are eagerly awaiting the September results of this year’s 48 HFP, and regardless of what happens, we had a great time and learned some invaluable life (and marketing!) lessons.
Heather Hansen is a digital project manager at gyro Denver.