The 48 Hour Movie was an attempt by Gracie's Bird Cage, a loose-knit Portland, OR based creative collective, to film a movie in 48 hours, between 6 PM, Friday the 24th of May, 2002 and 6 PM Sunday the 26th. This included the entire conceptualization, writing, filming, editing and dubbing of the movie. In addition to this, the movie was made at a budget of approximatly zero dollars, with of course generous donations of time and equipment from those involved, as well as a bonanza of food for the crews.

The PDXCB being the efficient organization that it is, word went out to the Portland e2 users of this endeavor, and several of us showed up to see what was going on. Of course, as with everyone else, we all got sucked in and ended up playing significant roles in the making of the movie, before and behind the camera.

Some people showed up before 6 PM, but we all kept our mouths shut until the bell chimed. Between 6 and 7 PM, a great assortment of people showed up. It was interesting to see a truly open creative process. Although certain people's ideas were listened to more than others, everyone had an opportunity to share their ideas. The plot of the movie was selected by having people write their ideas on notecards, which were then read and judged for worthiness based on how much applause they generated. From these notecards, the overall plot of the movie was pieced together.

Even before the movie's major ideas were sketched out, enthusiastic crews went out to shoot footage at scenic locations around Portland. While they did so, the people at homebase came up with the plot:

Two demigods wishing for full godhood (one played by Revphil) approach two different disenfrachsed individuals, a depressed gardener (played by Joyquality, who hadn't come expecting to costar) and a self-loathing, brutal hitman, (played by humor writer Mykle Hansen). The two of them are given a mission to promote the demigods fortunes by distributing promotional videos about them across the universe.

Saturday, the only full day we had, was the day with the most filming. Different crews went to different locations to film various scenes of both the gods arguing amongst themselves and of the different planets that the messengers would visit. Since there was no script to work from, and people had different visions of what the movie would look like, some of this footage was not obviously related to the overarching plot. At the end of the day, everyone who was left went up to Mount Tabor's amphitheatre to shoot the final scene of the movie: the two messengers race to the only planet in the galaxy where it would be heeded, a planet where aliens had been sitting in front of a television and VCR, never having had a video to watch. The gardener wins the race, giving the video to Magnotek (played by Steev), the keeper of the television. The evil hitman shows up second, and thus loses the race.

The final product, which took a team of half a dozen people working without sleep all Saturday night and Sunday to splice and edit, was shown at a small warehouse space late Sunday night. Although there was some discontinuities and editing problems, the end result, considering the conditions it had been made under, was quite entertaining. It had cowboys, aliens, clowns, vans and gods, and was called, for various reasons rotating food.

Quite apart from the satisfaction of seeing the finished product, it was interesting seeing how a different way a group of people could work together to accomplish something. Despite the fact that most of the people there were not extremly familiar to each other, within a few hours, we were working as a team to produce something, with no ego battles or impoliteness. Everyone just chose to go somewhere and do something, and through doing so, everyone managed to do something that helped towards the final goal of the film. The spontaneous participation of various people in Portland with the film (such as the police on Mt Tabor who didn't arrest a half dozen screaming alien costumed people!) was also welcoming to see. I can only imagine what other activities such spontaneous groups of people could apply themselves to.

I should like to mention, in addition to Glowing Fish's wonderful description, that the concept of the 48 Hour Movie had been a sort of running joke/myth amongst the Gracie's core group for approximately a year. It grew out of earlier similar events, 2 of which resulted in zines produced in 24 hours, and another, Comfusion, in a comic book (still to be assembled) drawn in 24 hours. After the first couple of these, the idea of making a movie started being batted around, but no one thought it could be done in 24 hours, so the time was doubled. Still, I think a lot of people were just using this as a humorous way to chat about funny plot ideas - "hey, wouldn't it be great/funny/cool/crazy if blah blah blah - hey, that could be in the 48 hour movie!!" - and most doubted that it would ever really happen.

Indeed, many dreams and myths spiral around the strange entity of Gracie's with only a small proportion of them seeing the light of reality. That's the way the Gracie's folk like it, mostly. But some of us took it upon ourselves to make this one actually happen. And I'm super pleased with the results.

To me, Gracie's in general has been a wonderful laboratory for a sort of temporary anarchy zone, where amazing chaotic emergent behavior often has occurred. The idea of applying this spirit to cinema production was really really intriguing to me, since in a way, filmmaking, at least the way it's traditionally been done, is the most hierarchic, authoritarian form of culture-making that there is. The question of whether an anarchic filmmaking was possible burned away in my brain for weeks...

Now, after it's over, I'm still catching up on sleep and trying to think through if the results of this experiment were at all conclusive. They certainly were encouraging, and it was truly beautiful just how much cooperation and decentralized activity happened.... but, I will have to ponder this more. As one of the handful of people who assembled the many bits into a final, semi-coherent product at the end, it's hard for me to gauge. Perhaps a survey is in order, to see how everyone feels. did anyone feel ordered around, or cheated, or slighted or the like? Were there "class divisions" forming?

Other experiments may also be in order, if not to gather more data, then to just have more fun. because it WAS really really fun, I think. We also plan to document the whole process, perhaps with a zine and a cdrom that contains outtakes, "bloopers" and "making of" clips.

Rotating Food v1.1 is done. The trailers for it have been played on PCA, as well as the documentary about the making of 48hr movie. There were several screenings, all over Portland and the Pacific Northwest.

Son of Rotating Food, aka the Somewhat Rapid Movie Project, is currently (early/mid December 2002) in progress. Check out http://gracies.detritus.net/48hr for details, in real time, as the filming goes down.

Just for historical reasons here are the dates and times I can think of that "Rotating Food", and/or "The Making of Rotating Food" played (along with dates and approx number in attendence):

It is important for me to seperate the differnece between "Rotating Food: the 48 HR Movie" and "Making Rotaing Food". But it is even more important for me to diferentate between this and the more recent movie Do You Copy?, which was made in a condensed period of time, but not 48 hours. (origionally we tried to hold ourselves to 48 hours of total working time but we found that we more than doubled that once we counted editing time, but we did keep the preproduction and production time to under 30)

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