VF48Hours Dunedin finalist Pitches Be Crazy (Photo: Bus of the Undead)

VF48Hours 2021: ‘Harry Potter, but shit’

An aspiring film-maker gets the opportunity to share her vision for a new movie – but then the studio decides to get involved. Dunedin team Bus of the Undead talk us through their VF48Hours invitation movie, Pitches Be Crazy.

Daniel Macshane estimates he spent around 43 hours working on his team’s Vista Foundation 48Hours entry this year. That five hours of sleep might be a new personal best. “Most years it would be 45-46,” he says. “There have been some years where I’ve not slept at all.” 

His team, Bus of the Undead, is made up of a core of 48Hours stalwarts – this year was the 16th time they’ve taken part in the competition. They’ve tackled a range of different genres over the years, but this was the first time they’ve been given “invitation movie” as their genre. They ended up taking a slightly meta approach, with a film about a pitch meeting that gets a little out of hand.

This film is about…

A budding screenwriter gets an invitation that could change her career – a chance to pitch her film. But when the executives see some similarities with a certain popular teen wizard franchise, they decide to tinker with the content to fit their ideas. We gradually see our teenage magician film evolve into a four-quadrant-seeking attempt at a crowd pleaser that’s more incoherent than Wild Wild West. Within the team, we summed up our film pretty early on in brainstorming with a single sentence: It’s Harry Potter, but shit.

The highlight of the weekend was…

Hearing the music cues for the first time, and going all out filming our reaction shot in the early hours of Sunday morning with a smoke machine and some fans… though if I had to pick the biggest highlight I’d say when the team was laughing during our read-through at Saturday breakfast. That’s when I knew it was going to be funny (and that it was coming in under time). 

The low point of the weekend was…

Our first shoot of the weekend ran over time – like five hours over time. We stuck with it because we needed to get it right but it did mean that the team was split for most of Saturday. For a team that’s highly invested in the social aspect of the competition, that wasn’t ideal. 

Our top 48Hours tip…

For logistics, plan what you can – food, transport, gear – in advance so that on the weekend itself you can focus on creative decisions and adapting to the stuff you can’t plan for. We’d rather be worried about how to make a shot look good than trying to decide what to have for dinner. For story, if you’re tossing up ideas, go with the one that lets you have the most fun on the weekend. Everyone is volunteering their time, so make sure it’s going to be a good experience.

The VF48Hours 2021 Grand Final is on May 22 in Auckland. For more information visit 48hours.co.nz




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