Students compete in short-film challenge

Less than six hours after receiving the assignment, Ben Davis stood from his computer — the seven-minute script complete — sipped his Mountain Dew and quipped to his friends.

“No sense in sleeping now,” he said. “Not if we’re meeting at 8.”

It was 1 a.m. on Saturday. Six hours earlier, Bleed Purple Productions received its assignment: produce a 4-7-minute dramatic film in 48 hours about a superhero, incorporating a character named Meg, a magician, toilet paper and the line “what were you thinking?”

Bleed Purple Productions was one of more than 40 filmmaking teams who competed in the nationwide 48-Hour Film Project over the weekend. Each Utah filmmaking  group drew a genre at 7 p.m. Friday night in the Megaplex at the Gateway in Salt Lake City. They then had the next 48 hours to write, shoot, edit and deliver a final film.

“For me it’s ideal,” said Drew Tyler, faculty adviser of Weber State News and member of SuperHeumann Productions. “I’m busy. I’ve got a family, I’ve got a job. I don’t have six months out of the year to work on a project, but I love the creation process.”

Tyler has produced films for the film project for the last five years and encouraged Bleed Purple Productions — comprised of several Weber State University students — to give it a go this year.

“This is a tremendous real-world application to what they’re doing,” Tyler said. “The 48-hour film project gives them a chance to put all the skills at once into one project and walk away with something that’s just stellar.”

Bleed Purple Productions had a few snags to work through and even negotiated through an actors strike. Their young actors squeezed in the strike Saturday afternoon. They had a simple role — watch a magic show and act enthralled — but they grew restless, stood during a shoot and walked away.

“We’re not doing this anymore,” one actor said. “Yeah, we’re on strike,” threatened another.

The crew couldn’t persuade them to come back, so they negotiated through the actors’ agents — their parents — and after some prodding, the young actors were back on camera.

“You don’t work with kids for a reason,” Davis said. “I am going to try to not write children into another script.”

The snags, coupled with the time crunch, made for a stressful experience, Davis said.

“It was very stressful to film,” he said.

Tyler, however, revels in the stress.

I love the deadline,” Tyler said. “I love the pressure.”

After shooting at two locations from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., the filmmakers headed to the garage of one of their directors’ homes, Ben Reynolds, to piece the shots together. Their film tells the story of a superhero with the power to influence people’s decisions by touching them, who must decide whether to save another at the expense of his own life. Davis said he hopes the film will inspire people to ask themselves if it is heroic to save another if one’s own life is the price.

Davis credited the entire crew for developing the story.

“Any script, no matter what it is, cannot be written by one person,” he said. “We all argued and fought over what would make a good film. There is no such thing as one-man film production.”

Jace Nelson, who organized Bleed Purple Productions for the contest and helped direct the film, said the competition was a welcome creative outlet.

“There’s a film opportunity everywhere you look,” he said. “You can create anything that you want to.”

The films will be screened beginning 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Megaplex Theater at the Gateway. Bleed Purple Productions’ film is scheduled to show Wednesday night at 6. A best-of-screening show will start Thursday night at 6. The cost of each showing is $10. Each film will be considered for various awards, including the coveted Best Picture.