1) FORM A PROPER TEAM - Make sure you have a well-balanced team that can properly back you up, ESPECIALLY if you are new to the medium. Make sure that at least two out of the four people on the team understands the most basics of video technology, ESPECIALLY the post production side (half the game is in post-production). Having two people work on different sequences at once and then link up later can save you time.
Team members – don’t leave your Team Captain hanging. It’s only 24 hours, tough it out! Alternate in taking naps if you must but don't just abandon the game. Assign specific roles to each other and keep each other busy. The worst thing you can do is leave in the middle of the rush and have the captain go on auto-pilot solo. It has happened so many times and it always kill the vibe and hurt the product. Show your leader your dedication. Don't assume you're useless if you're not contributing on a technical level. Help out by brewing coffee or making runs to get some. Help feed the crew. Crack a joke to keep the energy going. Get some sleep so you can be the one alert enough to drive the team to drop off the film.
2) MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PROPER ACTORS!!! This cannot be emphasized enough, The biggest cringe for most people when watching a film is bad acting. For the T24 Project, this is usually the result of a team with zero experience performing who underestimates the skill it takes to carry a narrative on screen. That being said, you don't need professional actors per se but those with experience and charisma on camera will take your film much further. If you choose to make that epic dramatic narrative with characters crying or professing their love for each other, make sure you have people that can REALLY sell those scenarios. Also, play the proper age. Nothing is more laugh worthy than seeing 20 year old kids trying to play roles meant for 40 year olds and it cheapens the film.
3) IT'S ALL ABOUT THE STORY - Work on the story and script! The first 3-5 hours should all be about writing. Yes, filmmaking is a huge technical exercise but this is a 24 hour challenge so a technical glitch here and there will be forgiven. But an unpolished and uninspiring story is not. A good story has subtext and meaning and it's the soul of any film, no matter how glossy it looks. A proper story will get you so much farther than fancy camera work or that pile of special effects. A strong performance or solid script has nudged previous juries to award a film over another before, despite being "technically inferior".
4) GET THE PROPER EQUIPMENT - The great thing about the T24 Project challenge is that one doesn't require super fancy equipment but you do require the basic necessities, which are: a camera (duh!), preferably one that has an audio input jack of some kind and a microphone of some kind. Anything else like lenses and fancy lights are nice-to-haves instead of must-haves (though it will be very helpful to have some lamps and some white bristol board to bounce things off and these things are easily acquirable). Cameras need not be expensive or fancy. You can still tell a good story whether you're using an iPhone, DSLRs, or RED. Just know the limits so you don't hit a pothole during production.
That being said, if you plan on recording audio of any kind, it is HIGHLY recommended you use a microphone and NOT the one on board the camera or computer. Though a quality mic will get you better results, even ANY cheap microphone you can get at a computer store or the dollar store will be better than no mic. Whether it be live dialogue or voiceover, DO NOT record any audio using the camera's on board mic. Attach something, ANYTHING! Use your uncle's karaoke mic if you have to but use SOMETHING. Earphones/earbuds will also help you monitor sound levels while recording so you end up with fewer ugly surprises during post.
5) LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION - The T24 Project challenges filmmakers to be creative with your surroundings and the exercise as a whole is meant to showcase various aspects of the city. Having your entire film take place inside your house, apartment, or condo defeats this purpose. Yes, it is a safe and convenient choice but it's also incredibly boring unless you have a really good story to tell. Scout for interesting locations that you can use at night (remember, most of your shooting time will be dark). It's a great opportunity for you and eventually the audience to explore the city. If you MUST set it inside your house, give the audience, the festival staff and the jury a really good reason why we need to be inside your house.
That being said, be respectful of other's property. And because it is winter, weather and road conditions can be crazy. Be safe and don't do anything to risk your health. A film is not worth getting hurt over.
6) SCHEDULING - You should properly map out how much time you need for certain tasks. Account for editing time - A LOT of editing time (half the game is in post). DO NOT assume editing will be a breeze and will be done quickly. Account for time to export and test your file properly. And make sure you account for travel time, especially if you’re coming far from the drop site or if you’re terrible with directions! Traffic is not a valid excuse for being late. A group from previous years didn’t map out the drop site beforehand. They drove around the block 5 times looking for the building. They were two minutes late. On that note, having a powerful laptop that you can use for editing/exporting would be much more convenient due to its mobility than a stationed desktop machine.
7) HAVE FUN! We’ve had films where despite being incomplete or out of the running, they were great examples of how much fun the team had when they made it and that energy transfers to an audience watching it, making the screening an enjoyable experience. As much as it is a challenge, we want you to have fun when participating and making your film.
The deadline to register is Sunday, January 12, 2014. Good luck during the challenge. May the Force be with you or may the odds be ever in your favour!