Ryan Blomquist breaks down his 48 Hour Film Project victory
The local filmmaker, who's worked with Milwaukee Film on Collaborative Cinema projects, discusses the process of crafting his prizewinning thriller, "Olivia," in a mere two days' time.
Earlier this summer, Milwaukee’s film artists gathered for a challenge unlike any other: the 48 Hour Film Project. This film festival and competition is unique in that it requires local filmmakers to write, cast, film, and edit a short film in a matter of two days. That’s not a lot of time to produce high-quality work, but almost 30 teams of Milwaukee filmmakers were able to get a flick made through dedication, collaboration and a passion for filmmaking.
At the end of it all, the festival’s judges had to pick one short to win the award for Best Film. This year, that honor went to “Olivia,” produced by Hoo Hoo Productions, a team led by Ryan Blomquist. Blomquist is a 2008 UW Milwaukee graduate with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and film production. Over the past six years, he has worked on Milwaukee Film’s Collaborative Cinema projects, locally made feature film No God No Master, television shows, and other Milwaukee independent feature films. This, however, was his first year participating in the 48 Hour Film Project.
Blomquist and writer Crystal Hampton immediately went to a makeshift production office and wrote for about six hours straight until they had a script. The story, later titled “Olivia,” would be about a man who wakes up disoriented and alone in his friend’s house, trying to discover the whereabouts of his companion Olivia and the story behind the blood on his hands. That same Friday night, they gathered their props, cast roles, and made pre-production arrangements.
The following day was a full 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday of filming. That wasn’t as simple as it sounds; Blomquist said the project hit a snag when a previously determined location – a friend’s house – fell through. “Equipment, characters, makeup, wardrobe – all that stuff fell into place. Having a place to shoot was kind of difficult.” They managed to find another house that could host them though, and the scramble turned out to be a blessing in disguise – it gave them a pool for the film’s climactic scene.
Finally on Sunday, Blomquist, Hampton and director Zach McLain all sat down for 10 hours to edit and add the soundtrack, crafted by a team member in Illinois who had never even seen the script – a daring move, but one that worked out. The finished product was turned in on Sunday, and received the Best Film award shortly after, along with Best Director (McLain), Best Actor (John Glowacki). Blomquist credited his talented team for the victory. “I wouldn’t have asked for a better team,” he said. “Everyone just did their part and it all worked out.”
Blomquist not only took home a plaque for his accomplishments at the 48 Hour Film Project, but he also won a camera package and some film editing software. Additionally, “Olivia” will be one of 130 films shown at Filmapalooza in 2014. The top films chosen at this film festival will have the special honor of having their films shown at the Cannes Film Festival.
Blomquist currently plans to use his new camera package and software on a number of Milwaukee-based projects, including a short film called “Shadow Puppets.” When reflecting on the entire 48 Hour Film Project experience, he says, “It was a really fun experience and I’d like to do it again next year. I recommend it to anybody trying to just trying to make a film.”
Hoo Hoo Production’s winning short film, “Olivia”: