Filmmakers work to produce movie in 48 hours

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Leo Garren is not just a bank manager, he's a bank manager.

When not working away at the financial institution, Garren manages the bank of the Mississippi River by picking up litter in the sweltering heat.

But his arduous task does not begin until he hears one word: "Action!"

Garren, played by Cape Girardeau actor Joel McCrary, is the main character in locally based Schrader Turner Films' entry into the nationwide 48 Hour Film Competition.

The small crew of about 15 people worked feverishly Saturday to produce a movie for the annual festival, which is designed to encourage current and aspiring filmmakers to produce independent movie shorts.

Filmmakers are given a genre in which to work, a character, line of dialogue and prop that must be included in the picture.

From the beginning of writing the script to filming to editing, the entire process of producing a four- to seven-minute movie must be done in 48 hours.

"Creating a decent idea in that time frame ... it's just rough," executive producer Steve Turner said. For Turner, general manager for Barnes and Noble who has produced and directed short movies and commercials in the last couple of years, this was his first venture into the competition, in which the team stayed up until 3 a.m. Saturday to think of a film idea.

"I'm sure Monday it'll be a wonderful experience," he said with a laugh.

For this year's competition, the filmmakers were thrown for a loop with the festival's choice for genre: silent films.

"I was shocked," director Michael Huntington said. While silent films mean less hassle with editing and no fear of outside noise polluting the picture, it also meant the crew's best assets would not be shown.

Huntington raved about the company's sound crew, whose job was nixed, and said the crew's writers are best at dialogue, which could not be heard in the movie.

"You work with what you got," Huntington said. "We have to adapt."

In exchange for the lack of sound, the director relied on his actors to use nonverbal communication to portray what was happening in the screen.

"It all has to be sight gags, because it's a silent film," said Ryan Maurer, the director of photography.

The short film, titled "Dirty Job," revolves around the world of bank manager Leo Garren, who, due to his obsessive compulsive disorder, is compelled to take the literal meaning of his title by keeping the bank of the Mississippi River clean.

The filming was expected to be completed by sundown Saturday, with post-production wrapping up today, Huntington said.

Once completed, the movie will be shown with several others from the area in St. Louis on Wednesday and Thursday, Turner said. On June 22, the festival will screen the best of the entries and hand out awards in various categories. The best in show will then go to the national competition in Kansas City.

Turner hopes to screen "Dirty Job" locally during a showing of his short movie "Mere Sentience." No date is set yet.

Huntington stressed that those working on the 48-hour project were doing so out of a true desire for the business.

"We're not about the money or moving to Hollywood," he said. "We want to make Cape a film town."

With the movie "Killshot" filming in town last winter, it would seem as if Huntington's hopes were succeeding.

kmorrison@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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