From script to screen and a 'Pompey Oscar' in 48 hours with DVMISSION
Roy Hanney, the MISSION Coordinator at DVMISSION, talks to us about the South Coast's most well established 48-hour film challenge. If scripting, shooting, editing and screening a short film in just 2 days flat is a challenge that tempts you, Roy and his team have you covered.
Hello Roy, thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. You’re currently promoting this year’s DVMISSION 48 Hour Film Challenge, based not far from us on the South Coast. Can you tell us what DVMISSION is, who is involved and how it all started?
Well, the DVMISSION 48 Hour Film Challenge originally emerged as part the first Portsmouth Screen Film Festival in 2005 and then split off from the festival to form as a separate organisation in 2006. The original challenge came about as, at the time, there were no cultural events for cinema, video and film in the city. So, Jinx Prowse and myself wanted to run the kind of event that we, as filmmakers, would want to take part in. Jinx had been previously inspired by DIY filmmaker Johnnie Oddball, who came up with the idea for the first 48-hour film challenge back in 2003. So, we went for it, we ran it, took part in it and had a great time. I think there were around 12 teams who took part the first year.
How does DVMISSION work? What was the criteria for the films last year and who won?
It is like a film festival with a difference, in that all the films screened at the gala night are produced in 48 hours over the preceding weekend. At 5pm on a Friday night, participating teams are given a ‘film title, a film genre and a line of dialogue’, which we call the ‘obstructions’. The teams then have just 48 hours to return on Sunday at 4pm, with a finished two-minute film. The following weekend the teams arrive in their best suits and frocks for the exciting culmination to the challenge: the awarding of the coveted ‘Pompey Oscars’!
Up until recently we used to do the whole thing, the challenge and the screening/awards on the same weekend but the last two years we have split them up as we realised we were the only 48 Hour Film Challenge in the world crazy enough to do it all in three days. Now we have a week to judge the films and have more time to organise the gala night.
What’s the average level of experience/expertise of the filmmakers that take part?
We have had all ages and all levels of experience. We like to be ultra-inclusive and will encourage anyone to take part. You might not know how to make a film on the Friday night but by Sunday evening you will have learnt. We have had teams of 14 year old's take part (supervised by their mother I should point out) who actually won a prize and Ben, who led that team, took part every year after that till he found himself a job at the BBC and moved to London.
We do get professional filmmakers as well. For example we get corporate producers looking for the opportunity to do something creative. We also get students, we have a group from Worcester who take part every year just for the party. That said some of the competitors do take it quite seriously and more than a few see it as a great opportunity to make some showreel material.
Over the years you’ve been running you must have had countless projects submitted to you. What are some of your stand out favourites, and what made them stick in the memory?
For me one of the greatest years was the year we picked Steampunk as the genre. I thought it would be really challenging as it’s a production designer’s genre in that it’s all about the clothes and the props, but the teams took to it and came up with some amazing items. One team had a penny farthing and I have no idea how they found that. Another was set on a zeppelin airship. All of the teams had invented amazing steam powered gadgets including a steam powered mobile phone.
A definite standout for me are the films by Broken Bricks, a team from Southampton. They just turned up at the awards night one year, we didn’t even know they were taking part. They turned up on the Sunday, submitted a film and won hands down. They have taken part a few times since then and what I like about their films is that they are witty, well-crafted and always respond to the obstacles. Check out their 2015 entry - for which the obstructions were: Title "The Perfect 20" Dialogue "Shatner Don’t Surf" Genre "Cyberpunk". I think they really saw the obstacles as a creative challenge and that’s spirit of DVMISSION.
Are there any that have stuck in the memory for perhaps more shocking/surprising reasons?
Maybe not shocking but surprising certainly. We usually get around 20 or so entrants every year so by 2015 we must have seen over a hundred films. So, when a film that year broke the fourth wall and addressed the audience directly that was a real surprise. Actually, they did more than that because one particular comment was aimed squarely at the director of DVMISSION - Jinx Prowse. It was an amazing film, very funny, very DIY and made in the last few hours of the challenge. The team had almost given up trying to make something that year and finally pulled it together right at the last minute. I think they wanted to say a big thank you for a really challenging experience.
Can you tell us how you decide the criteria for the films and more about what you’ll be looking for this year?
We choose a genre, a line of dialogue and a title and we set these as obstructions or you could think of them as creative challenges. The phrase is a homage to Lars von Triers' The Five Obstructions where he challenges a friend and mentor to make a film and von Triers sets out to obstruct him. On each occasion, von triers is unable to stop his friend making an even better film than the first one. To me that shows how challenges, obstructions and problems are really at the heart of creativity. It does get harder to come up with interesting genres. Last year we did Lynchian Musical, in the past we have had Techno-horror, Steampunk, Hybrid Disaster, Cyberpunk, it goes on. We do seem to be able to pull a new genre out of the bag every year and we have something interesting planned for this coming challenge in March.
How do you go about selecting the films for screening, and where will the screenings/awards take place this year?
We pull together a team of expert judges to decide the winners and we present 12 different awards, so there are lots of opportunities to win a Pompey Oscar. This year we will be back at the Wedgewood Rooms for the gala night on the 17th March and we have a new concept to roll out which will go way beyond just screening the films and giving out the awards, and will be a fully immersive cinema experience. It will be called From Dusk till Dawn of the Dead (which might give a few clues as to the kind of genre we are going for this year) and will feature performers, décor and an immersive story world. In fact, we are going to be the only secret cinema style event where all the films are made especially for the night.
What advice would you give filmmakers embarking on a DVMISSION?
Watch this film for the full low down on what it takes to do a 48 Hour Film Challenge…
You can follow DVMISSION on Twitter: @DVMISSION
Sign up to take part in this year's 48 Hour Film Challenge with a special EXIT 16 discount code DVM2018EXIT6 to get 50% reduction in the registration fee until February 28th. Visit the registration page for more details.
The CHALLENGE WEEKEND takes place from 5pm Friday 9th March to 5pm Sunday 11th March.
The DVMISSION PRESENTS premier night, awards ceremony and after party, from 7.30pm Saturday 17th March at The Wedgewood Rooms, Albert Road, Portsmouth, PO4 0JW.