Preparing for the 48 Hour Film Project

Choke Movie Poster


I’d always wanted to do a 48-hour film project, creating a short film from start to finish in 48 hours with no sleep.

Many of my filmmaker friends had done one and raved on about the adrenaline rush and the sense of achievement that follows. Over the years I just haven’t had the time, but more accurately I didn’t have the confidence and so always made an excuse.

When I found out that I was stuck in London for another 6 weeks, due to Saudi visa issues, I started toying with the idea of maybe finally embarking on this adventure that had always lurked at the back of my mind.

I did my research and the only competition that I thought was worth having ago at was the 48 Film Project. It really ticked everything I was looking for when it came to such a challenge and so I decided I was going to try to make this happen even though I was 6 months pregnant, but what the hell, if I didn’t do it this year who knows when I would, so the wheels were set in motion.

Before I was going to submit myself for the competition I needed to make sure I had film crew and locations that I adored, as these were the two vital elements of being able to complete the film in such a short time.

I knew I needed a film crew that I trusted and had worked with before. I also wanted locations that were striking and would pop on camera.

Behind the Scenes - Filming of Choke

First up, I location scouted! I needed locations that would be easy to film in but that were different and crazy. Whilst studying in Manhattan I working in a bar on Wall Street underneath a secret S&M Dungeon.

Whilst serving drinks I got to know a lot of the dominatrix as well as some of their clients, and found the mix of their lives and desires fascinating. I had never heard of any in London, but then again I never looked.

To my surprises there were many and most were fully booked for months and even years ahead!! Who knew this was so popular in London. Finally I found a dungeon, The Serpent Rooms that was available for the weekend I hoped I could lock everyone in for and that said yes to my proposal.

48 Hour Film Project - Desert Rose Films UAE

Most of the dominatrix I had met and their clients, were normal well-established people. I didn’t want the film to be a horror, as I was adamant about it being a drama as that is the genre I am most comfortable with and love, therefore I needed another location to counteract the dungeon that I had booked. I need something completely different.

Something beautiful, regal, something total English and royal, Home House. I have been a member at Home House since I moved to London, as the building is steeped in history and is beautifully proportioned, with elegant rooms. I called them, told them my crazy idea and they said yes!!

Desert Rose Films 48hr Film Contest

On such a project you don’t want DIVAS. You need everyone working together as a team. Everyone helps make such a project come to life, so I needed a creative passionate bunch of filmmaker whom I trusted. I wanted a multicultural group and a large portion of the crew to be female. I didn’t want to be the writer this time as I wanted to direct someone else’s writing.

Since I saw one of Nazish’s plays a few years back in London, I fell in love with her writing and we had been talking about a feature film screenplay for a while, that hopefully we will get to do next year, therefore she was the only writer I wanted to work with on this as it would give us an opportunity to start collaborating.

We both love deep dark stories with a twist and so I new she would write something brilliant and that I would be able to bring it to life. She was the first phone call I made and as soon as I told her the locations I have locked in she said yes.

The cinematographer was next and there was no one I would prefer to work with then Liam. I didn’t think he would say yes at first, even though we have a great working relationship and have had such success on Daisy, I know he is so busy on features these days. I gave him a ring, nervously told him my crazy idea, and he also said yes.

Next was the editor and grader. I only wanted one person to cover both these roles as we needed to keep crew to a minimum but also I only had one person in mind who would do both roles brilliantly and whom I trusted completely and I would only do this project if they said yes.

Sharaz and I had worked on the documentary Maisy and the Making of Daisy and over the last year and I have become fond of his great work ethic and his great eye for detail. I knew that he would stay up with me for the 48 hours and create something that was phenomenal and that would be delivered on time, so when he said yes, I had my core team and I was now ready to register for the 48 Film Project.

Behind the Scenes on the 48 Hour Film Context

I wanted to keep actors to a minimum, as it was only a 7-minute short film. Ideally I wanted a story with one female and one male lead. I love stories where two apposing worlds are made to come together so I wanted the two actors to be as different looking as possible. I had worked with James before and loved his enthusiasm and talent.

I knew he’d understand my directions and would deliver any thing I asked of him, so he was an easy choice and as soon as I called him he said yes without even knowing what I was asking of him. Thank you James for trusting me.

I had met Sefe through a friend a few years back and had also wanted to work with her since. She has a powerful presence and look and I knew she would WOW an audience on camera.

I had hoped to have worked with her on a feature film however as I had all my project on hold in development due to my pregnancy, I thought this would be a great way for us to start collaborating and fingers crossed if all goes well we will be filming a feature together in 2017 ; )

Behind the Scenes on the 48 Hour Film Context

The rest of the crew and cast also said yes before I even had to explain what was expected of them. Things had falling into place nicely in just 2 weeks and now we were a week away and the nerves started to kick in.

Usually when filming you have a script to work to. As a director you start thinking about shots and motivations etc however we had no script, everything would be reviled on the day and that was scary but exhilarating.

We did a recce a couple days before the shoot to see the locations and to have a think about how best to shoot in them but also how the logistics would work during the weekend and then it was the night before and I just couldn’t sleep.

All the possible characters, and props and lines that we could get were running through my head. What if we got an astronaut as the character, what if… what if… what… and then I finally crashed.

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