Wanna Make A Film In 48 Hours? Here's How You Do It...

By Jamuura Staff. Posted on October 06, 2014

Short films are in and there are a lot of short film contests around for you to showcase your filmmaking talent. Time-bound contests like the 48 hour film project OR the 100 hour film challenge are one of the best ways to hone your skills as a filmmaker.

You get a genre and catch phrase that needs to be in the film AND you have to finish the film in 48 hours. It is challenging, yes. Maybe exhausting too. But a great way to push yourselves to make a film.

With more such contests on the anvil, we decided to speak with some of the ex-winners of such short film contests and share tips that helped them finish their films.

TIP 1: Build a team that is enthusiastic and motivated 

Stay away from pessimists! Filmmaking is a team effort and a time bound contest will stretch you and your team to the limit. When push comes to shove, you don’t want team members cribbing about things going wrong. You want people who will rise up to the challenge with a smiling face and get the job done.

So carefully select your team members.

Build a team - 48HFP

TIP 2: Delegate work

Don’t try to do everything yourselves. Because you can’t. And even if you can, you shouldn’t. Time is at a premium and your job as the director or team leader is to finish the film in the given time.

So get someone who knows how to handle the camera and let them manage it. Get a couple of good assistants who can multi-task and let them work on executing the nitty-gritties. Get good actors who can improvise and come up with ideas. As far as possible, work with people you are comfortable with.

Things will heat up and you don’t want to end up fighting when they do. As long as everyone knows who is calling the shots and things get done on time, your project will be on track.

Delegate work - 48HFP

TIP 3: Pre-production is the key

Most of the successful teams actually spend good time on pre-production. This really helps them to move much faster on the shoot. Some pre-production can be done even before the event begins. Like getting your actors on stand-by and ensuring that you have a few locations that are already locked.

While it is that you spend sufficient time on pre-production try and time the whole process. Pre-production, production and post-production should each get their fair share of time if you are to make a good film in a short time. 

Pre-production - 48HFP
TIP 4: Time your film

Make sure when you write your film that you time it. Ensure that everyone in the team knows what is been shot. This is really useful and will help make your shoot and edit much easier.

Time your film - 48HFP

TIP 5: Keep it simple

Use equipments that you are comfortable with. If you do not have experience with DSLR’s, don’t use them. Focus on the story. A good story, executed well even with a handycam is worth more than a badly made film shot on DSLR.

Also don’t get carried away with fancy angles and multi camera shots. Stick to basic cinematic practices and your film will be more effective.

Keep it simple - 48HFP

TIP 6: Spare enough time for post production

Most filmmaker’s get engrossed in the shooting process and don’t leave enough time for editing. All the effort on writing and shooting is wasted if the film isn’t edited properly.

Edit on the go! Don’t wait for the shoot to be over. Edit and start selecting your shots even while you are shooting.This will help in saving time.

Post production - 48HFP

TIP 7: Don’t dub. Use sync sound.

Dubbing can really delay your post production process.

Sound is one of the most critical aspect of a good film. Use a good mike to capture your sound live. Simple and cheap audio recorders should give you decent quality sound if you are shooting indoors. Check out these few videos online (1, 2 & 3) to know more about how to record good audio cheaply.

Don't dub - 48HFP

TIP 8: Keep your locations simple and close by

Pick your locations before-hand. Restrict the number of locations to as few as possible. All the locations should be close by. Shoot in different rooms of the same house to show multiple locations if needed. You don’t want to end up spending your time travelling rather than shooting.

Shooting indoors is preferable to shooting outdoors. Try and avoid outdoors.

48HFP locations

TIP 9: Don't lose track of the deadline

You have a deadline. Don’t get so caught up in the filmmaking process that you lose track of time. Budget for slow internet speeds, traffic and other calamities to make sure you deliver your amazing product 'on time'. Remember Murphy’s law, everything that can go wrong, usually does go wrong.

It’s better to be over prepared than to be under-prepared and have your plans upstaged.

Deadline - 48HFP

TIP 10: Respect Copyrights!

The last and the most important thing to remember is, ‘respect copyrights’. Do not use any copyrighted work without permission! 

Credit every artist involved.


Do remember to take ample rest before the event. And remember to enjoy the process of filmmaking.

Filmmaker's who helped us compile this list include;

1. Srikant Kekare - Runner up at 2013 and 2012 editions of 48HFP Mumbai. Watch his 2012 film 'Plight of Ravan' below;

2. Prashant Sehgal - His films have won various awards at all the last 3 editions of Delhi 48HFP. Watch his film 'Each Time The Door Closes', which won the Audience Choice Award in the 2011 edition.

3. Vinamra Pancharia - Vinamra has participated in two editions of the 48HFP Mumbai and is film 'Slight' won the Best Film Award in the 2013 edition.

4. Abhishek Khankar - His film 'Iss Mod Se Jaate Hain' won an Audience Choice Award at the 2011 edition of the Mumbai 48HFP.

To watch more winners from the 48HFP, check out this post.


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