One Hour Cinema (OHC): write, shoot, edit and release a film in one hour or less.
Around 2005 I started working in Milwaukee which was a change from Madison where I had worked previously for over ten years. I was writing software for a living but I had a renewed interest in becoming a filmmaker.
With the extended commute and a young child at home the time I had to dedicate to filmmaking was very limited, however I didn’t know anyone in Milwaukee so I spent my lunch hours for the most part alone. This is where One Hour Cinema was born.
I was reading several books on filmmaking at the time but the one that stood out was called Practical DV Filmmaking . The book provided a series of exercises which taught the skills necessary to produce a film shot on digital video. I didn’t have the time (or resources) to carry out most of the exercises however I adapted the lessons to fit within the one hour lunch break I had and used the equipment I had on-hand (a cheap digital still camera and a laptop).
I did this for about a month and shot about one film per week. This resulted in three films (the fourth was not completed due to equipment failure), “Neutron Man”, “The Old German Church” and “$1 Lunch”. ”The Old German Church” went on to be the first film that I screened in front of a public audience.
The experience taught me how to be resourceful and recover from problems quickly, as well as how to prioritize the work to meet a deadline. While I can’t say absolutely that this improves all artistic processes, for me it was a way to move toward my goal of becoming a filmmaker and gain the necessary skills within the time and equipment restrictions I had available to me.
From time to time I have considered producing another series of OHC films. The capabilities of mobile devices such as the iPhone dramatically exceed the tools I originally worked with in both image capture quality and editing facilities (not to mention capacity and battery runtime), so the format may be exceptionally well-suited for these devices. In fact I am in the planning process of teaching another filmmaking class and perhaps this will be part of the curriculum.
If you make a OHC film please let me know, I’d love to see it!