Michael McCallum has been honing his skills since he started his filmmaking company Rebel Pictures in 1999. Since then, he has garnered numerous awards for his twenty films. Winning 117 major awards, receiving 91 nominations and having played in 223 film festivals nationally and internationally, he thought he would test his skills and enter his first competitive film challenge.
Although his filmmaking team did not win, they were recognized for the creative use of a prop. Since then, his film has been entered, been accepted and has won a number of different awards internationally.
Michael permitted me this interview on his experience in this competitive film challenge.
You recently competed in a film challenge in which you completed a short film in 48 hours. Tell us about this experience.
I made my first competition festival film, “Foreword,” this past July. I have acted for many years in other filmmaker’s competition films (Project Twenty1, Capital City Film Festival’s Fortnight Film and other 48/5’s) and had some recent experiences at the beginning of this year that really made me want to take a stab at directing/producing one of my own. Foreword, was that result for the 48 Hour Film Project: Detroit.
Is this the first such film challenge in which you have competed? In how many others have you competed?
This was my first, but I have acted in many others, that were noticed for the acting in particular, and even helped produce a few, that had a lot of success.
Of the film challenges through out the state, how did you choose to participate in this one?
It came down to two things: time and recognition. The 48 Hour Film Project: Detroit was happening at a time that would work with my schedule and the schedules of a small talented team that I assembled and it was also one that is nationally recognized. It goes from major city to major city. There were 51 teams competing in the one I did in July. Most have a 1/3 of that amount of teams involved.
Was there an entry fee for this challenge? What was the grand prize for the winner?
There were awards for different categories and 1st, 2nd, 3rd Place winners as well as an Audience Award. The big prize was that the overall winner would be played at the Cannes Film Festival. We didn’t take that prize, but were awarded Bes5 Use of Prop and more importantly we made a film that I’m extremely proud of. We also had a great time making the film, which doesn’t always happen under these circumstances of a competition.
Were you accompanied to this challenge by a cast and crew of friends? Who was part of this group? Which actors appear in your film? Who did the cinematography? Was there a score written for this short and who wrote the score?
I hand selected a small talented group for this project. I knew before we even signed up that an agile bunch were needed. This was going to be a project truly fighting the clock from the get-go and they had to be not only great at what they do, but also understand the time crunch element.
Your finished film was a sci-fi thriller which you titled “Foreword.” Although you did do another sci-fi film, what was it last year, this is a departure from what you normally do. Were you assigned this genre, or was this something you chose?
Do you like working in this genre, sci-fi? Do you find it an easy genre in which to work?
Once you had the finished script did you launch immediately into production? How were your days divided until you had things complete?
Well, there was only 48 hours, so taking the time to type out a script was more hurtful than helpful. Myself, Anne Cope (Make-up), Daniel Hogan (Actor), Scott Baisden (Cinematographer/Editor) and Kristian Bringedahl (Sound Recordist) all went down to Detroit together to receive the elements. Once we received everything, we started driving back and kicking ideas around. Once we arrived in Lansing we had a full fleshed out story and I had already made calls to our Production Supervisor, Angela DeGarmo, for locations, etc.
51 teams total competed.
How long after you had submitted your film were you and the other filmmakers notified of the results?
It was fairly soon. The competition was July 14th-16th and July 25th was the showing at the Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak. The awards ceremony was held at Club Orchid in Ferndale on Aug. 8th.
Although you may not have won, you were recognized for your use of your prop. What was it? Was this prop given to you to be included in your film and how did you use it?
We were and I was honored for us to receive any recognition. There were a few really well-done films that we saw and the ones that won the top awards definitely deserved them. With us being awarded Best Use of Prop, it really comes down to the story and writing and I was thrilled that we won that.