The 48 Hour Film Project is a contest where filmmakers are required to create a seven-minute short film within 48 hours based on a pre-assigned character, prop and dialogue. The genre of the short film was given to the filmmakers through a lucky draw. This was the third time the 48 Hour Film Project has come to Vietnam.
Phan Hoang An, Duong Dinh Chuong, Le Kien Trung, Nguyen Minh Anh, Phan Ba Hy, Ly Trung Nguyen, Doan Ngoc Phuong Khanh, Nguyen Bao Ngan, and Hoai Long, who all studied the Bachelor of Design (Multimedia Systems), came together in 2012 to compete in the competition under the name Look Group. The requirements for their short film were to include a doctor named Long, a lottery ticket, and a predetermined line; and the film must be a horror film. The team decided to simply name the short film 'Dr Long', after the main character.
The story centres on the eponymous doctor who has the ability to decide the fate of others, and during the film helps good people and kills evil doers.
The film's director, An, said the biggest challenge they faced while shooting was the location.
"It was raining on the day of shooting, something we didn't expect to happen," he said. "In the end, we had to move the outdoor scene indoors."
To make matters worse, the house where they had chosen to film was being used for a family event, so the team had to wait until the second day to start. Fortunately, with his experience working in production, An was able to change the schedule to allow more flexibility so that the team could work on other tasks until the house was available.
Trung and An both agreed that the storyline was the main factor leading to their winning the runner-up award for Best Film.
"Our lack of experience meant we could not compare with the other professional teams when it came to technique or acting," Trung said. "So we focused on what we could do best, which was the storyline."
Organiser of the 48 Hour Film Project Ross Stewart also agreed that Look Group had successfully conveyed the storyline in 'Dr Long'.
"Storyline is always an issue – especially the ending of the films and year by year it's always quite random from film to film if they are successful with telling a complete story in just four to seven minutes," Stewart said. "However, with 'Dr Long', and the film 'Temptation' by Saigon Rangers, also made by some RMIT alumni, which won Best Writing, we saw a fairly good development in storyline which made these films some of the favourites of the year."
Credit for the strong storylines from RMIT students can be attributed to the Narrative for Multimedia and Time Based Media courses taught at RMIT Vietnam. During these courses, students are asked to practice writing narrative structures for multimedia environments. Cinematic editing techniques learned in the courses also gave the students an advantage when competing in the 48 Hour Film Project.
Although the team was happy with their entry, winning the Best Cinematography, Best Sound Design and Best Art Direction awards was a surprise bonus, particularly the latter two, as they had not concentrated so much on those aspects of the film.
They said the key to their success in the 48 Hour Film Project was the ability to work as a team, which they learned during their time at RMIT Vietnam.
"In addition, those times when we had to run to make deadlines at the end of every semester also helped us create a film in 48 hours," Chuong said, to the knowing laughter of the rest of the group.
An, Trung, Chuong, Minh Anh, and Hy are currently establishing their own company called Look Creative Studio. They also plan to enter two other film competitions, which they see as stepping stones to improving their knowledge of filmmaking and to satisfying their passion for cinematic art.
Check out the Look Creative Studio on Facebook.