Teamwork is a big part of what we do here at EPIC, and one of the traditions we started to help build team spirit is an annual, sleepless weekend of mutual abuse, torture and punishment — otherwise known as the Four Points Film Project.
It’s an annual, international filmmaking competition in which teams have 72 hours — from Friday, Nov. 13 through Monday, Nov. 16 — to write, shoot, score and edit a 4- to 7-minute film. It might sound easy, but it’s a little like juggling six flaming chainsaws while balancing upside down on a unicycle — anyone can try it, but actually pulling it off is something else entirely. Over 200 teams from around the world enter the competition and the winning film is screened at the Cannes Film Festival in France.
Deriving our name from our daily morning “scrum” meetings, we invite anyone and everyone from the company to join the team. The only qualification for joining is a strong aversion to sleep and sanity. To shake things up, our cast and crew assignments often stray far outside our professional specialties. Account managers became boom operators and jingle writers. Social media specialists became editors. Editors became camera operators and so on.
Although we’d all love to see our masterpiece on the big screen while living it up in the south of France, the point isn’t so much to make a great film as to Work Hard & Have Fun. And it was a lot of both.
Each film must incorporate four elements that are assigned at the Friday night kickoff: a genre, character, line of dialogue and prop. This way, no one gets a head start. This year, our elements were:
- Genre – Sitcom
- Character – Rajesh or Rina Kilna, Baker
- Line of dialogue – “That is the strangest thing I’ve ever seen.”
- Prop – Chicken nuggets
As in past years, we tried to outline some very general story lines for each of the 16 possible genres. And just like in past years, every bit of planning we did was thrown out the window as soon as the assignment came through.
We started by breaking off into three small groups to brainstorm plot summaries. We then pitched our ideas to each other and voted as a group on the one that sounded like the most fun — and the most feasible (Sorry, giant bratwurst that crushes Milwaukee).
We ended up settling on an adaptation of the style of “The Office” set at – where else? – an advertising agency. I won’t spoil the plot, but suffice it to say that it might just be the strangest thing you’ve ever seen.
On Monday night, our fatigue turned to relief and jubilation as we watched the finished film and submitted our entry.