Skip to content

A Filmmaker’s Diary: The 48-Hour Film, Events Occur in Real Time

This weekend was incredibly exciting for me. It was the beginning of my role as News Editor and the premiere of my new show right here on OneOfUs. But, instead of sitting by the internet worrying about the reaction, I was participating in the equally stressful 48 Hour Film competition.

Last year was the first time the worldwide event had come to Dundee. I entered the competition at the last minute – and I mean last minute, it was literally hours before the kick-off. The rules are simple; you cannot plan anything in advance beyond securing actors, crew and locations and have from 7:30 on a Friday evening to the Sunday evening to write, shoot, edit, score and render a 5-7 minute movie.

Legend Poster

Our group was modest, inexperienced, but enthusiastic. The majority of us came primarily from theatre, some from nothing. Our intention was to write the entire Friday night, shoot Saturday and edit Saturday night/Sunday. Being a new group, we hadn’t created any kind of prior dynamic or workflow, therefore, our concept became too high-concept and the pressure of time got the best of us, it became quite tense and therefore we opted to simply improvise based on our given genre: horror. I of course was over ambitious and decided to participate as an actor in another film being produced.  The finished result was mixed.

The short was inconsistent at best – with no focused plot line. It takes too long to go anywhere and introduces too much at the last minute. For improvisation, the performances are relatively strong (that Chris guy especially right?) and visually, it looks quite interesting. The ending is, well, rather silly to say the least.



In April this year, as part of the launch of the National Theatre of Scotland’s production “Let The Right One In”, another 48 Hour Competition was held. This time, it was entirely horror based with each team receiving a sub genre, location and line of dialog which had to be featured. Our team was relatively unchanged, but by this time, we had the experience of working together on a number of creative projects. Luckily, I had an idea brewing in mind for a while that served as the basis to our short.

A couple of sound issues aside, Cry Baby was a much stronger short with a cohesive narrative and strong performances. It was great to come back with something we could be more creatively proud of, let alone come first in the competition.



This weekend, the second worldwide 48 Hour Competition was in town and we too were back as a production team. In addition to the group’s alumni, we welcomed two new friends to the team and looked forward to finding out what genre we would be tackling this year. I wanted to do something grounded, perhaps an intimate drama or character exploration. So naturally the genre we drew was martial arts.

 We threw caution to the wind and decided the most important thing was that we had fun, and fun we did have. Given our fitness and general lack of skills, a serious martial arts short was out of the question. My first thought was to create a bad, B-movie style martial arts short with dubbed dialogue and awful music. However, we ultimately decided to go with a mockumentary style, though we did get that poorly edited sequence in there.

Have you guys entered any of the 48 Hour Film competitions? Or any other film competitions? Got any horror stories? Success Stories? Comment below fellow creatives!