A Team of Faculty, Students and Alumni Wins Best Film at the Asheville 48-Hour Film Competition
It was a Friday evening in mid-July and Anne Slatton and her UNC Asheville filmmaking team had just finished a long work week. Slatton had secured internships for six students and alumni in the most exciting cinematic project taking place in the region–the filming of “The Hunger Games”–and everyone was putting in long hours. But rather than taking the weekend off, they returned to Asheville and worked practically around the clock on their own creation: “The First Apple,” a sweet, engaging short movie that earned “Best Film” honors in Asheville’s 48 Hour Film competition.
Slatton, a lecturer in Mass Communication, had led a 48 Hour Film Project team for three previous years, but said “this year was the smoothest–we just enjoyed the shoot. We stayed up very late editing, but it wasn’t as crazy as with some other years.” Slatton says she even got a few hours sleep each night, despite having only two days for the team to conceive of, script, shoot and edit the film. The work was completed just a few minutes before the 7 p.m. Sunday deadline.
Viewers can detect very little of that intense time pressure when watching “The First Apple,” with its easy pace and gentle warmth. At the start of the competition, each team drew a randomly-assigned genre from a hat, and Slatton wished she had picked comedy instead of romance. But she and her script-writing group made the best of the situation, creating a romantic comedy. And she made maximum creative use of the three assigned mandatory elements at this year’s competition: as a prop, an apple; as a character, a mechanic named either Tina or Timmy Darnes; and as a line of dialogue, “Don’t be so sure.” All three are central to the twist of the narrative.
Slatton, whose credits include work for PBS, National Geographic television, The Learning Channel, and a Parent’s Choice Award, says the 48 Hour Film Project is a great learning experience for young filmmakers and videographers. Senior Elizabeth Hines, who served as the team’s script supervisor, agrees. Working through the weekend was “certainly exhausting,” said Hines, but also “a lot of fun,” and well worth it for the experience she got as liaison between Slatton, director and principal script-writer, and the videographers and editors. It was Hines’ role to make sure every detail in the script was captured by the student and alumni filmmaking crew, whose work she praises highly.
“It was cinematically very pleasing–there were some beautiful shots” said Hines. Mountain Xpress reviewer Ken Hanke also noted the film’s strong imagery and striking use of color. The judging panel voted “The First Apple” as deserving of Best Graphics and Best Film in a spirited Asheville competition that drew 24 entries.
Making a polished film, even a short film, in 48 hours, is a daunting task, and “as director, there are things I wish I could go back and tweak,” said Slatton. “And I was also teaching summer school. I was pretty tired in class on Monday, but I guess it all worked out O.K.”
A summer that included working on a major motion picture and the 48 Hour Film Project was far beyond what Hines, of Boone, N.C., expected when she came to UNC Asheville, and she needed a little recovery time afterward. “I sort of had to go off the grid for awhile,” said Hines. But Hines is back now to finish her coursework, and she’ll be looking for a job in the film industry upon graduation. After working side-by-side on “The Hunger Games” with makeup director Ve Neill, winner of three Academy Awards, Hines said she’ll be headed for Los Angeles and was encouraged by Neill to get in touch when she lands.
Winning the local competition is not the end of the road for “The First Apple.” With its selection by the Asheville panel, “The First Apple” gained entry into Filmapalooza 2012, a competition of the best 48 Hour Films from 100 cities around the world. Flimapalooza will be part of the Taos Shortz Film Fest, scheduled for March 2-5, 2012, in Taos, N.M.
Other students and alumni who worked on the film are Miriam Allison ‘11, assistant director; senior Anna Brown , producer and writer; Kelly Doty ’09, editor; Travis Skinner ’09, camera; Yeager St. John, ’11, graphic design; senior Stephen Watson, grip/gaffer; and actors Rebecca Morris, ’04, M. Taliaferro Pollack ’11, and Casey Morris ’10.