48 Hour Film Project Glasgow - What I Learned from Making A Film in 48 Hours

The 48 Hour Film Project Glasgow - What I Learned

This year, I lead a team that made our first film at the 48 Hour Film Project in Glasgow. 48 Hour Film happens in different cities all over the world. 

As you can imagine it’s a really good fun, a bit of stress, and a shit load of hard work.

This was our first time, so our goal was just to get the film made within 48 Hours and get it handed in on time. Which we did with time to spare.

  1. PREPARATION - Now there’s only so much preparation you can do for this type of project. You aren’t allowed to write or produce anything in advance.  BUT, that’s a mistake because there’s a lot you CAN do in advance. a) You can source possible locations b) You can source possibly bands/songwriters etc c) You can find your actors d) You can prepare your creative team as much as possible. e) You can get costume, props and design team ready to find.


  1. LOCATION - You’ve got to have one in advance, and it will shape the film, it really will. But the less locations, the more time you will have. I think it’s best to have a unique location. But it’s somewhere you can film uninterrupted all day.

  1. READY, STEADY, GO - The moment you get the major elements, the GENRE, the PROP, the CHARACTER and the LINE, it’s time for ALL the team to go to work. On this film, only I went to work, everyone else went to sleep. But I think it’s during this time that all the production team starts to organise itself, starts to create production schedules.

  1. SHOOT and EDIT - It’s clear that to maximise time editing, you should be shooting and sending that coverage to the editor. We made the mistake of waiting and it cost us a lot of time. Have a runner shuttling all the footage for one scene to the editor while you shoot another.

  1. SOUND - the majority of short films are shit when it comes to sound. Having professional sound will set it apart. Ours was pretty good but could be better. So investing in sound will be my next choice.

  1. BE QUIRKY - My opinion is that this is not the place for mainstream storytelling. Sure it can be successful, but the films that got attention were a bit more experimental, a bit more quirky, a bit more creative than just trying to tell a good story. Films that do well are quirky AF.


  1. ELEMENTS - Think outside the box with the elements. The films that won prizes for their use of elements used them creatively. So don’t think of them as just things to include, think of them as essential elements of the film.

  1. MUSIC - I reckon music that was composed just for this film gets great attention. It also adds an awful lot to the film. A great score always adds to a film, but in this case, it will add that little bit extra.

  2. QUALITY - I heard people say this isn't about quality. But it is. It's not just a bunch of amateurs scrambling around trying to shoot some film and stitch it together. There's some serious people at work here making films.
  3. POSSIBILITY - Lastly, what I learned is just how possible it is to get together with a great group of people and make a creative act together in just a short amount of time. People complaining about resources should know that this project cost us less than £250 all in. Okay, people donated a lot of time for free. But together, we made some special for ourselves. 

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We learned a LOT from our experience of making, showing the films and attending the awards ceremony. There’s a good community spirit among the filmmakers and the filmmaking community.

I personally loved every second of this process, I loved the creativity and the team work and I’m looking at May 2019's Edinburgh 48 Hour Film Project with an eye to employing everything I learned and teaming up with some other filmmakers and putting it all into practise.

In the meantime, our film To The Sea, directed by R Paul Wilson, is showing at the Orlando Film Festival. 


Mark Westbrook normally directs over 30 short films a year, in his role as course leader on the full time acting diploma at Acting Coach Scotland.

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