48-hour film challenge: Marriott hosts filmmakers for intensive competition
Marketing takes many forms at the island’s JW Marriott. A big part of that is outreach to meeting planners, showing them how the hotel’s spaces can be made to serve their needs in a wide variety of uses.
The latest effort along those lines is something unique – at least to this area, and this industry. Last weekend, the hotel hosted their first-ever 48-Hour Film Challenge. Four teams of aspiring filmmakers each created a short film from concept to finished product in – you guessed it – 48 hours.
When you consider that the creation of a moving picture generally stretches over months and years, with pitches, script revisions, casting, location scouting, filming, editing, and scoring, doing the entire process in two days, not knowing at the outset what you are creating, is a daunting challenge indeed.
For the teams at the Marriott, location scouting was simplified, as they shot in and around the resort hotel – although some backdrops gave the impression the filming was happening in remote locales such as downtown Atlanta, and one production recreated a New Orleans-style Mardi Gras.
While the concept is new to Southwest Florida, 48-hour film challenges are an established part of the movie biz, begun in 2001 in Washington, D.C., according to Wikipedia, and in 2009, filmmakers in 76 cities made 3,000 of the short films.
On Marco, teams each consisted of five members – a writer, a director, a producer, an editor, and a director of cinematographer, or camera person. The team members doubled as actors as required, within the rules of the competition, which specified how much dialogue they could speak – up to five lines for non-principals – and mandated one line of dialogue in each film – “paradise redefined.” Not coincidentally, that is a tagline that Marco’s JW Marriott uses in its marketing.
“Our Film Challenge series is an unprecedented opportunity to engage with meeting planners while also supporting emerging creators,” said Amanda Cox, director of sales and marketing at the JW Marriott Marco Island. “Our hope is to spark the imagination by showcasing how hotel space can be transformed beyond the concept of a traditional meeting room, as well as inspire travel through the stories told with a local lens.”
Two of the four teams were made up of local Southwest Floridians, while the other two came from cities including Los Angeles, where they work in related fields. One of those was Alexa Wint, the editor for Team Chicago – each group was tying their film to a different city, all of which have hotels that are part of the corporate group.
Wint was crosslegged on the floor in front of a computer monitor, cutting raw footage into completed scenes, in a meeting room that had been repurposed as an editing suite – sort of the traditional “cutting room floor.” She had a pizza box on one side of her, and a cot that had been brought in for to grab some sleep, when possible, on the other.
“Our film is about two people who fall head over heels in love with each other, and it ends in tragedy,” she said. “It’s a sad movie – people relate to love lost.”
At the event’s concluding screening of the completed films and awards brunch, Wint was awarded the prize for best editing, and her Team Chicago won the overall competition as well.
One team – the New Orleans krewe – made a fable about a put-upon palm reader who, as the filmmakers said, “found love in the palm of his hand,” when he invited a mysterious woman to turn about and read his palm, and possibly found a soulmate. Another team’s production was a dark, moody meditation on love, focusing on words jotted into a spiral notebook, and rarely showing people except for glimpses of hands, backs, until ending in an enigmatic shot of a girl in a diaphanous wedding gown swimming underwater.
The teams’ efforts were assessed by a triumvirate of judges, including Paradise Coast Film Commissioner Maggie McCarty; writer, director and producer Michael Lucker, who currently serves as professor of film and media at the University of North Georgia; and actor and comedian Steve Byrne.
Just to make things more interesting, while the four productions were underway, there was a fifth crew filming around the resort, shooting a “making of” documentary for the hotel about the whole process.