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UI students take part in IC’s first 48 Hour Film Race

BY ERIC HAWKINSON | FEBRUARY 24, 2011 7:20 AM

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Tim Unger and Josh Hanesack face a tough deadline. The pair have 48 hours to write, film, and edit a five- to seven-minute movie. And they aren’t alone — 16 other teams are attempting the challenge, too. With certain requirements and the time crunch always lingering in their minds, Unger and Hanesack are one of only 12 teams that prove to be successful. Their film, “Jesse,” documents the intervention for an obsessed fan of the ’90s sitcom “Full House,” one particularly passionate about John Stamos’s character, Uncle Jesse.

“Jesse,” along with 11 other films, will screen as a part of the 48-Hour Film Race at 10 p.m. today at the Bijou. Admission is free to students and is open to the public.

The 48-Hour Film Project is held in cities worldwide, but this is the first time Iowa City has housed such a competition. Slade Kemmet, the general manager of Student Video Productions, worked with Bijou director Jesse Damazo and the Campus Activities Board to bring the project to campus.

“[Damazo] came to me with the idea,” Kemmet said. “It’s been pretty popular in Des Moines and other major cities in the U.S., so we thought we’d join together, and the Campus Activities Board kind of jumped in on it, too.”

The crews must follow a few requirements to keep them honest in the production of the films. They need to integrate a remote-control prop, the character name “Jesse,” and the line of dialogue “West on Third Street.” After picking a genre from a hat, the teams disperse and get to work.



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Feb. 10

The first thing Unger has to do as team captain is enlist a team. He recognizes his strengths and has a network of talented people to draw from — he has worked with Student Video Productions since his freshman year, but he hasn’t yet collaborated with Hanesack.

“I’ve got to know all the members in [Student Video Productions] going to meeting every week, and I knew that there were a lot of people in the organization whom I would like to work with whom I haven’t worked with before,” Unger said. “There’s definitely a wide range of talent in the organization.”

Initially, he wants to delegate the writing, filming, and editing to the team member who is most comfortable with the task. Nothing, though, is set in stone. He said there is no real way to prepare for the race other than to take everything in stride.

“You get your requirements, and you start off from there. It’s kind of like everything is just rushed, and you figure it out as you go. That’s part of the process,” the UI senior said. “It becomes more organic because it’s not very carefully planned out; it’s just what can you do with the amount of time that you have.”

5 p.m. Feb. 18

After registering with Kemmet, the teams are briefed on the rules of the competition, educated on their requirements, and issued their specific genres. They are allowed two attempts in drawing genres that include silent ’70s, romance, comedy, film noir, and Western.

After first drawing the genre romance, Unger and Hanesack opt to go for a second draw, which to their relief lands them with comedy. It is the genre they feel most comfortable producing.

“Comedy comes the most naturally to college kids,” said Hanesack, 21. “It’s a really safe genre. If a scene’s not dramatic and somebody laughs at it, well — they’re supposed to.”

The biggest challenge they face at this point is coming up with an idea. Their rumbling stomachs aren’t going to feed themselves, so the two decide to grab dinner and discuss their potential plot.

On their way to Buffalo Wild Wings, the two stop by the Student Video Productions office. Unger jokes about one of the requirements being the name Jesse and suggests doing something with Uncle Jesse from “Full House.” Hanesack laughs at first but then agrees over dinner that this could be a great premise for their makeshift comedy “Jesse” — an intervention for an obsessed fan of the ’90s sitcom “Full House,” one particularly passionate about John Stamos’s character Uncle Jesse.

Hanesack wants the character to have an obsessive personality. While eating, the pair craft the story of a living, breathing fan boy of “Full House,” one whose daily routine expresses his dedication to the sitcom and Uncle Jesse. After dinner, the two sit on the Pedestrian Mall and go over plot points.

Once this is sorted out, Hanesack goes home and begins to write the script.

“We’ll see if we can get this done in 48 hours,” the UI junior said.

11 a.m. Feb. 19

Hanesack e-mails Unger the script before he goes to go into work.

After Unger reads the script, he requests only a few minor changes. The two are content with the idea they have, and they agree to stick to the script.

Unger said he is aware of the danger of having clashing ideas when a team is trying to shoot.

Fortunately, Hanesack has come up with a solid screenplay, eliminating any possible tension.

Some groups started filming at 6 a.m., but in Unger and Hanesack’s case, they have to wait.

Hanesack doesn’t get off work until 4 p.m., so the team members have to dedicate their night to production.

5 p.m. Feb. 19

The team picks up its main character: They call friend Ryan Murphy a “perfect fit” for the obsessive “Full House” fan. Unger and Hanesack have worked with Murphy before in Student Video Productions and based a lot of the lines on his personality.

Their approach is to film all outside and public scenes first. First comes the Ped Mall scene in which Murphy must publicly show his love for Uncle Jesse.

“The first scene was the hardest for [Murphy] to film,” Unger said. “He didn’t have very much to base it on; he’s not really obsessed with Uncle Jesse.”

Murphy holds a John Stamos flier, yelling at random people, inviting them to the “Full House” reunion. Unger and Hanesack manage capture the reactions of confused bystanders.

The team runs into problems when trying to find an open lecture hall to film their final scene. Unger knows the Seamans Center will be open. With luck, they find an empty room — except for the custodian.

Initially, the custodian says he isn’t responsible for allowing a film crew inside so the team “awkwardly” starts walking out of the room. The custodian then asks how long they will need it for.

“Only a half hour,” they tell him. He shrugs his shoulders and with that, the crew is granted access to the room.

Hanesack’s apartment serves as the final location for filming. It’ s pretty messy but that only aids in the setting of their character’s abode, Unger said. It is supposed to be the home of a man who spends all day watching “Full House” episodes, after all.

With pizza boxes spread across the table and the “Full House” theme song blaring, the team does its best to encapsulate its disconnected character. The only real problem Unger and Hanesack face is trying to capture the right lighting during scenes.

The team finishes filming just before midnight.

Noon Sunday

Unger enters the Student Video Productions office to begin editing the film. Hanesack gave him the OK to cut anything he feels is unnecessary or extraneous from the overall premise so they meet requirement of showing a film within the five- to seven-minute length.

While Unger is editing, other teams come in to do the same with their projects. He hears a few teams saying their films are about 10 minutes, and they can’t edit them down any further. This makes him wonder how strict the judging will be and leads him to cut one large scene.

“It just didn’t work. And it was one of the scenes where we did the most takes,” Unger said. “They call it ‘to kill your babies’ in editing.”

Unger knows he is on a deadline, but it isn’t an unfamiliar feeling. Working on a show for Student Video Productions, he’s dealt with tight spots before.

“I knew I had to edit quickly,” he said.

It takes him until the 6 p.m. deadline to finish the editing. After he hands in the final version on a flash drive, he is all smiles.

Today

The team didn’t go into the race thinking about the prize. The members knew there was some sort of gift card on the line, but it was more the experience they were looking to gain.

Unger said he’s excited to see everyone’s projects, and, of course, he’s excited to showcase what he and Hanesack were able to produce in 48 hours.

“I’m a little anxious, but I’ve shown some people scenes, and they think it’s funny,” he said. “I think that makes a less amount of anxiety. I know a lot of people know Murphy and his personality, so they’ll at least be entertained by watching him on screen.”


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