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Film frenzy: Couple writes, shoots and edits a movie over the weekend

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Stacy Vogel
December 10, 2009
— Stephen Pickering had gotten four hours of sleep in the last 72 hours.

He, his wife, his father-in-law and several friends had spent three days writing, filming and editing a short film complete with credits, music and special effects.


He was verging on incoherent Monday night—or so he said—but no matter. Now was the time to view the results of their frenzied work.


“A Second Chance,” the 7˝-minute film Stephen and his crew made, will compete for a shot at showing at the Cannes International Film Festival and distribution as part of “The 48 Hour Film Project International Shootout.”


Stephen and his wife, Cameron, both 25, won a chance to enter the competition when they won the Madison 48 Hour Film Project competition in summer.


They’ve been entering the competition since it came to Madison in 2007. On Friday night, teams are given a genre, prop, character and line of dialogue that must feature in the film. They turn in the finished product by Sunday night.


“It’s a lot of fun,” said Stephen, who runs a videography business with Cameron and attended the Vancouver Film School.


Rules for the international competition were a little different. They were given only a theme, “the end of the world,” and they had 71 hours to finish the film and get it in the mail.


Stephen, Cameron and Cameron’s dad, Craig Bergum, received the theme Friday at 7 p.m. and finished the script 11 hours later. They decided to tell the story of a couple who must decide whether to give up their baby after most of the world’s population dies in a chemical war.


They quickly assigned parts and e-mailed the script to friends who had agreed to be in the cast and crew. Filming took place Saturday and Sunday, and they finished adding the music and effects Monday.


As Stephen filmed each scene, he’d hand the tape to Cameron for editing. He’d film the next scene on a new tape as Cameron edited the last one and called out what needed to be re-shot.


Working with a baby—Stephen and Cameron’s 8-month old daughter, Naomi—as an actress was one of the hardest parts of shooting, they said. They had trouble getting Naomi to focus on one spot during multiple takes.


At one point in the film, Naomi lets out a heartbreaking wail. That was real, Cameron said.


“It was really late,” Cameron said.


“We felt so bad,” Stephen added.


But there were no tears from Naomi during the showing of the film, though a few adults might have felt tears prick from the drama onscreen.


Stephen and Cameron invited everyone involved to their house for a screening and party Monday night. The room was quiet for a moment after the final credits rolled.


“That was so beautiful!” exclaimed Pat Hall, who played the grandmother in the film.


The couple have no idea when they’ll find out how they did in the competition. They’re not getting their hopes up because they’re competing against teams from all over the world, including Hollywood.


But they would like to get their name out there and get the chance to do more creative films.


“It would be fun to do something longer,” Cameron said.



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