I am extremely proud to finally be able to blog about The Pioneer, which was my group’s submission to The Oklahoma City 48 Hour Film Project. I’m so proud of what our group, Gorignak Productions, created. It was not only a thrill to work on a truly creative narrative project that I haven’t really been a part of since my college days, but I also got to experience this with an extremely talented group of people.
The core group of us come from my full-time place of employment, Fire Protection Publications of Oklahoma State University. About once a week, a group of us would grab something to eat at the delicious Hideaway Pizza and the conversation always naturally dived into talking about movies. During one of these nerd-induced discussions, Brad McLelland pitched to us to get involved into this project that he had done twice before in Little Rock.
The 48 Hour Film Project is an international film competition where you and your team have just 48 hours to write, shoot, edit and score a film. Each individual contest takes place in any major city you can think of, and the winners from over 120 cities then go on to compete against one another at a screening in Hollywood. You produce a legit film, so you have to have talent release forms from everybody involved and have waivers for all the locations you film in.
The really fun part is that you randomly pull a genre from a hat, so you have to be prepared for the unexpected. Every group from the participating city shares a common character, prop and line of dialogue that is a requirement for your film submission. You can come into the process with ideas in place with actors and locations lined up, but it’s a crazy 48 hour weekend that requires little sleep and a lot of unknowns.
What made this a really different experience for me (besides the lack of sleep) is that I consider this a truly collaborative project. I can compare the completion of this project to how I imagine a band feels when they collectively play a song in front of thousands of people. Even though we all pitched ideas for probably way too long, we each took on a primary role that we felt like we excelled in.
In a lot of my freelance work and also in a lot of the work that I have done for my current and last job, I have primarily been a one-man band. There can be a lot of upside to having that much control, but as of late, I felt like most of my work has looked the same. It was nice to still contribute to the whole process because of my film experience, but I think it was even nicer to mainly put my focus into editing while putting trust in my teammates to excel in the other areas of film production. The Pioneer came out as product that is completely unique compared to all my other work, yet it still has my personal stamp on it.
I can’t stress enough about what a great team we had and how prepared we were for this project. We had the final movie exported and all the paperwork done by 1:00 pm on Sunday! That’s five hours before the submission deadline. It’s hard to explain what an amazing feat this is. Our acting base out of the Town and Gown Theater in Stillwater provided such a rich depth of characters to pull from and they had a plethora of props and costumes that we had access to. I think the most amazing part about this experience is that everybody got along. Even amongst the midst of little sleep and high amounts of stress, we all worked so well together. I can’t explain how rare this is to find when making a film.
Our film ended up being nominated for 11 awards for this contest which included Best Picture, Best Actor - Don Hand, Best Ensemble Cast, Best Editing, Best Sound Design, Best Directing, Best Wardrobe, Best Set Design, Best Visual/Special Effects, Best Use of Prop and Best Use of Genre.
We ended up only winning for Best Set Design, but out of 27 entries, we thought it was a pretty big accomplishment to be considered as one of the elite films out of the OKC group. We definitely plan to enter (and WIN) next year, but in the meantime, the experience was so good, we really want to keep on creating short films outside of the contest. Hopefully that will spurn on more personal creative fulfillment, and more importantly, not so much sleep deprivation.
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