Despite the popularity of NYU Abu Dhabi's 24-hour Film Race, the screening for this year's event was a cozy affair. Piles of beanbags, soda pop, and cups of popcorn made for an intimate ambiance, one that encouraged the mingling of students and faculty as they waited for the event to start. The room was buzzing with excited chatter and an almost palpable anticipation, which erupted into actual cheering as the lights dimmed and the screen flickered to life.
"The worst part is when you realize that you just want to sleep, and you don't care about the film anymore," said Lee. "But it wasn't too bad and the whole team worked really well together. We're all really good friends."
Many familiar faces came on screen that night. Even NYUAD students studying abroad were able to film their pieces and submit them to the contest, much to the delight and nostalgic 'awww's of the audience. The films ranged from comedies to introspective monologues and melancholy dramas. After watching all seven pieces, the audience was asked to mark their favorites on slips of paper. The votes were then counted, and the Audience Award went to freshman Angelica Teodorovic and sophomores Cristóbal Martinez and Hasan Nabulsi. The team wrote and directed a comedic screenplay about two neighboring apartments, with Nabulsi playing a nosy hoarder who snoops through his neighbors' trash. The film was a hit with audience members, who enjoyed seeing their peers as actors and filmmakers.
Several other awards were presented, including Best Directing, Best Original Music, Best Performance, and Best Film. These awards were decided by a panel of judges made up of NYUAD faculty members.
Despite the occasional bouts of stress and the quick-paced nature of the process, many students found the race to be, ultimately, a fun and challenging time. "What's so great about the 24-hour Film Race is that it's open to everyone," says Lee. "Also, because you have a timeline and these rules and restrictions, it really pushes you to be creative. I think it's a fantastic exercise. The film race is such a good exercise to get you moving."
The guidelines for the race were simple: students had 24 hours to make a 3:33-minute-long film while adhering to a set of secret rules that were revealed at the start of the race. These rules required that filmmakers include water, a designated color, and the number three into their works.
Armed with flip cameras and a kind of creativity that only sleep-deprivation can induce, seven teams of students set out to brainstorm, shoot, and edit their films in one single day.
"At around 10pm we started brainstorming," said Joi Lee (NYUAD '16), a member of the film team named Yoko No. "We came up with a storyline, then we wrote a shot-by-shot list so that we had it well structured before we started filming. We started filming around 12:30 and didn't take a cohesive break until we finished shooting around 11 the next day."
The filmmakers had to organize their days carefully, cramming planning stages, shooting, and editing into tiny time slots. Some students pulled all-nighters in order to fit everything in. Often, filming took the longest, leaving a few students with only a little more than two hours to edit.