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How the worst film we've ever made won the London Sci-fi

Updated: Nov 21, 2019

Okay, so I'm exaggerating slightly but, there genuinely was a moment of crisis whilst editing our film for the London Sci-Fi. It was around 3am with less than 12 hours remaining until hand in, I felt completely exhausted and all the other team members were passed out. I actually thought in that moment that I was going to have to tell them all "We have to give up!"

Let’s take a step back. So this year we decided once again to enter the London Sci-Fi 48 hour film festival, a competition which has always alluded us and we were desperate to do well in. This year we had sort of convinced ourselves that we would enter with the sole intention to have fun and nothing more. Secretly though I was aching to win this competition, we’d never really come close in the previous years.

I love directing with my Broken Bricks team they are an amazing bunch of passionate people but more importantly they’re all my best friends too. This was just something we would hang out and do - make movies.

So for the challenge, as a team you receive a bunch of rules you have to stick to whilst making the film; A line of dialogue, a prop that is used, a film title and an optional theme. This year we received the following.

Title: All inclusive

Prop/action: A letter is sealed and sent.

Dialogue: “I’d rather be in here then deal with what’s going on out there.”

Optional theme: A memory device has been developed.

Official poster for All inclusive

We all came up with an amazing idea which encapsulated all of these rules.

What if - In a not too distant future memories can be used as a currency. Gambling has evolved and people are trading their own memories and in turn part of what makes them… well them! How much of your memories make up what you are as a person and what will losing them actually do to your psyche?

We were sold on this idea instantly although being entirely out of our comfort zone. It felt like a ‘Winning Idea’ but could we pull it off in 2 days and in a 5-minute film?

Filming went off without a hitch, we found a great location and even better actresses to play some crucial roles. Everything was going great. Until…Enter Post-production.

We try to share the workload during the challenge and I had Chev compile the first cut so that i can take a break before a 12-hour stint of Post-Production which is going to be heavily my responsibility. I’m looking over to Chev and he’s not happy. His frown is making me frown. “What’s going on?” I tentatively mutter. He asks me if i noticed any flickering whilst filming the sequence? (He was on camera so he never had a chance to look whilst on set.) I say no, I didn’t think so. It turns out the lighting in the underground bar we were filming in had created a terrible flickering on EVERY SINGLE CLIP. It’s all shot in one place and all the footage is ruined. It’s horrible. This was tough to take.

I tried to continue staying positive before I took over but it was hard, every time I looked at the rough cut he was creating it looked like the characters were in a club in Ibiza. I didn’t know what to do. I needed a nap. So I tried taking one, whilst shivering and shaking thinking how can I fix this? Everyone is relying on me to fix this!

the story is great, and story is king

I couldn’t sleep but I raised from the futon with an air of optimism. “Maybe it isn’t that bad?”, also the story is great, and story is king. I took over the edit with 12 hours to go and I had to turn this Scooter concert into a dystopian melancholic triller. I can do this!

I CAN’T DO THIS!!! The film was bad, it was terrible. I immediately slumped back into a dark place and needed help. I went through the motions anyway until I had a full rough cut and played the film back in it’s entirety for the first time.

“This is the worst film we’ve ever made!”

I didn’t know what to do? Do I wake up the guys and tell them I’ve given up, what would they think of me? Chev awoke from his quick slumber and asked, “How’s it looking?”. “Yeah, not bad, not bad.” I was lying through my teeth. It wasn’t that I wouldn’t have been able to finish the film, but why would I want to. It sucked. We can’t hand this piece of garbage in.

For some reason, and I have no idea why, I kept going. A little trim here, a cheeky transition there and something started to happen. The film was, sort of, kinda, maybe taking a bit of shape. Then I started to play with some music, and again the scenes started to flow. It felt like I was using every trick in the book and to, not edit but, smash this film into shape and it was oddly satisfying. The good thing was the story was solid (thanks to some superb writing from Chev) and the performances from everyone were great. I was starting to believe I had the tools here to make something, I just had to work harder then ever before to bring it to life. The next step was adding in some of the visual effects and UI which was the feature component for the story to work and it helped massively.

We had about 3 hours to go and everyone was at there workstations, editing, sourcing music, sound effects, problem solving. I’ve never been so proud of the team I could see the years of experience we had doing this challenge coming to fruition. We did it, we finished the film.

But uh-oh, those feeling were coming back, I could still notice the strobing lights, I was doubting if the film was good enough, does the story work? Maybe we should have made a comedy, we’re not cut out for this. Well, No time for that now, we played the film for the first time to the whole team. In complete silence. My palms were sweating. No one was reacting to anything. The credits rolled like tears of shame down my cheek. Maybe this was our last film together.

“Wow” - Wow? Wait, wow what? Who said that? “Amazing!”,-“I think that’s the best first we’ve made!” This is crazy what’s going on? They loved it. They really f**king loved it. Such a strange feeling. “Can we watch it again?” They all insisted. So we did, and this time around I focused not on the bad parts but on everything it did right. I finally started to see it. We made a great film, one of our best for sure, I didn’t even notice the strobing lights this time (was it all in my head). I was ecstatic and we handed in the film and played some much deserved Mario kart. What a ride!

Although we knew we’d made a good film we didn’t really believe it could win. But that’s okay I couldn’t make the awards evening anyway because I had a tripped planned in Japan. But the most magical thing happened after an evening of karaoke, wandering down the backstreets of Kyoto. We found out that we received 1st place for the London sci-fi 48 hour competition. What a dream come true. I wish I was there to pick up the award myself but I didn’t really care, I was so proud of the team and the most important thing was that we won. People liked our film. I was happy, Very happy.

What a rollercoaster. I’m so glad I persevered when I really didn’t want to. It was intense but I’ve taken an awful lot away from the experience. We plan to make a directors cut of the film and send around to plenty more festivals this year, thanks to this festival we have a story to tell and film to share with everyone. I think that’s pretty cool.

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