Film contests, time, & deadlines

Last month was the annual 48 Hour Film Project for Pittsburgh. I’ve participated in several of those contests in the past, even taking on the role of team leader. Unfortunately, for this contest, I had to step away. I’ve probably touched on this before, but it’s great experience that really tests your talents as a creative. It’s also one of the most draining experiences I’ve ever been a part of, which is why I elected to sit out this one, in any capacity.

While it is fantastic to work towards that goal of creating a film under time constraints and work with my friends in colleagues around Pittsburgh, I’ve become a little hesitant towards working long hours on set to reach that goal. Not that it happens every time. And sometimes it has to be done to get the job done. I understand that. It has just been very taxing in the past, so I needed to step away from any offers to participate this time around.

I’ll be back in the game next time around. Maybe even in a leadership role, like I swore I’d do again. In the meantime, I never got a chance to share the film projects I worked on late last year. I had some photos I wanted to share from both shoots, which I finally uploaded to my website. I’ve been moving everything off of Flickr and migrating onto my own website in order consolidate on creative content locations. Check them out if you get the chance. It’s always fun to capture the magic that happens on set.

For a little background on the photos, I had the opportunity to participate in the horror-themed 48 Hour Film Project, something that I’ve become familiar with over that last couple of years. As I just mentioned, I have led a couple of teams in the past, but my ever shifting and busy schedule has led me to take a back seat on the more recent projects.

It’s nice to take a less prominent role on set, after working as a Director of Photography over a majority of last year (on the set of Body Farm). I’ve been asked to work as a gaffer or grip on various other occasions, but my day job always had to take priority over the course of this year. Thankfully, a few contests cropped up that allowed me to help with some filming on the weekends.

As I’ve mentioned previously in my blog, the 48 Hour Film Project is something that I’ve become very familiar with over the past few years. As a team leader for both Suture Films and Cipher Eye Media, I was able to work with a great group of talented individuals in all aspects of the filmmaking process. Of course that also included all of the costs and frustrations that came with being involved with the whole process, including the lack of sleep and unexpected hiccups in the process (camera overheating issues, editing software crashing, etc), which I experienced a lot of during my team in charge of teams.

After my third outing as team leader, I decided to help out on an ‘as needed’ basis, as my crewmates became busier with their lives and I battled some personal demons. As I also mentioned before, I eventually had to take a break from the film scene in Pittsburgh to get some things in order.

2017 proved to be an improvement over the disastrous 2016 that I endured. Anyway, not to get too personal, but I eventually became eager to return to that film grind that I loved and missed so much.

So, when the projects rolled in for 2017, I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of them. Pittsburgh’s 48HFP also hosts a horror-themed contest in the fall (closer to Halloween). The guys at Reckless Amnesiac (of Hobo Hunters fame) put together a team to participate in the event.

I was invited on by the team to assist with audio recording and any other duties that required extra hands on set. As always, it was a pleasure to work with these guys.

Since I had only operated sound gear a handful of times in the past, this was a bit change to operate a boom and recorder on this production. Sound had never really my thing, but I had always understood the importance of getting good sound on a shoot (something that could be overlooked newer filmmakers).

With the change on responsibilities on set, there always comes the process of thinking of how to efficiently do those responsibilities to the best of your ability. I had the think outside of the box, as this was a different department than what I was used to. How do I get close enough to the actors in wide shots? How do I keep up with actors while they are moving, while also avoiding the frame while the camera is moving with the actors? These were questions that I constantly had to ask myself.

The Reckless Amnesiac crew is also good at finding very unique and appropriate locations to shoot at. This was no exception. They had tracked down an abandoned house with old, creepy objects that were left behind: the perfect location for a horror shoot.

As a side note, the South Side Slopes (our shooting location) have many, many steps. It feels like they go on forever when you’re carrying around production equipment. I still get horror flashblacks.

Anyway, the inside of this house was every bit of weird, gross, and intriguing, making it one of the more interesting shoots that I’ve been on. The dedication, professionalism, and good nature of the crew also made this a very fun shoot to be on, even after we had wrapped in the late hours of the night.

The final product is a film called Infective, which is available on YouTube.

Moving on from that, I was invited to assist with a different crew a month later. This time, I was back in the camera department, assisting with any lighting setups and camera needs. This shoot was very unique, as it allowed us to explore facilities available at Point Park University and Pitt and utilize them as shooting locations.

The contest, the Four Points Film Project, follows the same basic idea as the 48HFP. The result was an awesome little film called Low Probability.

 I enjoyed assisting in this film because I had the opportunity to work with individuals that I had never met before, providing a different approach to the filmmaking process and showing me different techniques.

It was a great new experience, complete with unique locations and some real insight to the screenwriting process. Once again, it was a late wrap, but I was very happy with how the film turned out and hope to work with this group of creatives in the future.

Speaking of screenwriting, I’ve decided focus more on writing going forward. While I won’t be completely leaving the filmmaking scene, my focus on writing will take up more of my time, meaning less film/video/content production (for the time being). I will be updating frequently on how that process is going and what I’ve learned in the process.

In the meantime, I hope you are all still feeding your creative needs. Feel free to contact me for any assistance in the future.

Cheers!
Steven

Author: Steven E. Croner

Hey, everyone. How are you? I’m doing pretty well. My name is Steven. I’ve been living in Pittsburgh for a few years now. What sort of projects have I been working on, you ask? Well, I’ve assisted with several indie film productions in that time, mostly directly behind the camera or working with camera operations. It has been pretty fun. I’ve also been working on several other projects individually. This website is a collection of those projects that I do on in my spare time. Please click on the links above to learn about some of the work that I do in digital media and writing. I hope you enjoy my collection, which is a combination of old, archived work and new content I am compelled to share with you. Please feel free to interact, engage, and help me make some friends and colleagues in the creative media communities!

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