Guest Post: Reflecting on the 48-Hour Film Festival experience

Earlier this month, I had the fantastic experience of participating in Western Washington University’s first-ever 48-Hour Film Festival. I had wanted to get involved in visual storytelling for a long time, so I jumped at this opportunity and joined a friend’s team. Members of our team included team captain Ashley Smith, You Would! Executive Producer, graphic design student Matt Flores, and Riley Spears, an economics major and former home-moviemaker.

Teams in the 48-Hour Film Festival were tasked with creating a 5-10 minute film from start to finish in 2 days. The only other criterion was that every film needed to feature  the same three things: a homeless person, lipstick and the line “Aren’t you the persistent one?” Before it began, each team reached inside a hat and chose their genre at random. We received horror, one that none of us was too familiar with. Nonetheless we were excited at the challenge of exploring new territory and trying to frighten the audience.

Everyone played their respective roles in the creation of the movie, whether it was operating the camera or tediously positioning lights for a scene. We had our fair share of production hiccups in the process, but I won’t get into too many of the gory details (pun intended). Rather, I would like to share with you some of the lessons that this rewarding experience has taught me about technology and small group communication.

1) Digital media is tricky. Sometimes things go wrong – it’s inevitable. Mark Miller, my video workshop course instructor, said that things will go wrong. When they do you’ve just got to take a break and go play outside for a bit. Then, get back in there feeling new and ready to make up the lost ground. To help remedy disasters before they happen, save and save often! Making multiple copies helps too.

2) Stay positive. It sounds simple, but one person’s attitude can directly affect the people surrounding them. Even when we mysteriously lost two hours of footage, broke our fake blood container, and had to film in the dark, chilly hours of the early morning, I had a smile on my face because I was having a fantastic time doing what I love with my friends, and I think I helped them remain in high spirits too.

3) Group work is the fertilizer for ideas. I heard this quote recently and it is one that I believe. A project should not be the jumbled –together visions of individuals, it should be your team’s vision. In almost every scene we shot and edited, there was constant communication between multiple members regarding how we should go about it. Sometimes working in this manner can create conflict, but in our case it only enhanced our final product. A fresh set of eyes taking a look at your work is never a bad idea. Plus, solving problems is a breeze when you put your minds together. However, always beware of groupthink, when agreement causes you not to critically evaluate decisions.

These practical lessons can be applied to nearly every small group project you encounter. Working cohesively with your group members is the key to success and is a skill that is essential to the filmmaking process. In today’s digital world, knowing how to effectively work with a group to tell a story visually is an incredibly marketable skill to have and I’m glad I am only beginning to break into this incredible field.

And here is our film. Proudly presenting… “Horror Flick.”



Evan Stagliano is a senior at Western Washington University studying communication and journalism. His passion lies in bringing informative and entertaining stories to life, whether through writing or video. He currently is an intern for the Bellingham Sister Cities Association, helping organize their international Ski to Sea team. In his spare time, he volunteers as a DJ at KUGS FM. Find him on LinkedIn or on Twitter @EvStags.


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