Film competitions come in all shapes and sizes, but film racing poses a specific set of challenges. Film races are expedited competitions where participants are given a strict time limit, typically 24, 48, 72, or 100 hours, to make an entire film. Filmmakers are emailed three elements that must be included in a story which include a prop (for example, a water bottle), an action (answering a phone), and a theme (Identity Theft). We recently asked SFI student and film race competitor Eufemia Scarfone about how to succeed in film racing. Here’s what she had to say:
1) Get organized at least two weeks in advance. Have a schedule and stick to it. Allotting a specific amount of time for writing, shooting, and editing, helps you stay within the time constraints.
2) Get reliable people for your cast and crew. Have people choose their crew roles, and then stick to that as best as you can. Productions need to function like a military operation or a kitchen crew, with ruthless efficiency. If you can get an actual film composer or two, bring them in at the beginning of the contest so they have more time to create a great score.
3) Take high-resolution photos of your cast before/during the shoot. If you are not shooting your video in 1080p or 4K, you won’t be able to get print-quality stills from the video. You might want this for your poster or other marketing materials, especially if you are submitting your film to other festivals where press kits are required.
4) Create an environment where everyone can contribute. Things happen on set and you have to adapt. Be open to suggestions from the cast and crew. We’ve had some great impromptu moments that were better than what we wrote in the script. Embrace those moments.
5) Have the editor start editing while you are still shooting. Editing takes the longest, so have lots of data cards on hand so you can swap them out and hand them to the editor every hour or two.
6) Be flexible. In one competition, it was getting late on shooting day and we still had four pages of a 10-page script. We rewrote it on the fly and the project turned out better because of that.
7) Export a rough cut hours before the deadline so you have a safety net! Technical problems happen. Having a rough cut at the ready just in case is a great safety net.
8) Have fun! If you're not having any fun doing this, you're doing it wrong.