An Entire Film In 48 Hours?

Emilie Rasmussen 2.27.2019

I acted in a short piece for the Las Cruces International Film Festival’s 48 Hour Film Challenge. The name of the piece was “La Petite Ferme,” and it was produced by Chromatic Stories, directed by Hannah Antholzner and Lauren Flores.

I somehow became involved because I’m taking a journalism class (the journalism department is in the same building as the film department) and happened to walk by Hannah one day and tell her that I was interested in acting for the film department.

The genre we were assigned was mockumentary, which was absolutely perfect. (Have you seen Documentary Now, with Bill Hader and Fred Armisen? “Juan Likes Rice and Chicken” is my most favorite thing. Please watch it.) The prop we had to use was a funnel. The line we were given was about Las Cruces. Incorporating the funnel was way more natural than the weird Las Cruces line.

I played the role of Margot, a simple furniture farmer who loves and respects the chairs that she raises. After many local furniture farms are seized by the company “Furniture 2 U,” Margot swears to save all chairs taken hostage and raised by them in their terrible furniture factory farms.

In the film, Margot and her brother, Theo, who was played by actor and Theatre Arts major Calvin Chervinko, have to put down an injured chair, take care of their baby chairs, and take in a chair saved by their neighbor, Riley, played by Mara Carmona. Theo is more pragmatic than Margot, but still does care for their precious chairs.

We filmed on location, in a rural field by a house about twenty minutes away from NMSU’s campus. Since it’s mid-February, we were attacked by wind all day long. I found sand in my ears. When I woke up the next morning and moved my face, I felt the crinkling that meant that my forehead had been sunburnt.

I left the shoot exhausted (I can’t imagine how the rest of the team felt, I was only an actor!). But now I’m hungry to act in more films and learn more about film making. Throughout the course of the one day that we filmed, I felt as though a bond was formed between everyone involved. A small bond. But still, it was a shared experience (maybe I just imagined it?). Anyway, it made me ridiculously happy to have been involved in this project.

I’d acted in a couple of small film projects before—mostly film and CMI students’ class projects. And I’d never had that many lines before. I find it a little wild that the filmmakers trusted me to portray this character.

Working on this project was obviously not like working on other film projects because the team had to get everything done in under 48 hours. I feel that if we’d had more time, the directors would have given us actors much more specific directions. Although we had limited time, Lauren asked me lots of questions about Margot and how Margot was feeling and why she was reacting in certain ways. Hannah also told me that usually, she’s more particular about lighting.

I felt slightly more relaxed acting for a camera. Memorization is helpful, but forgetting a line isn’t disastrous. However, acting for film is way different than stage acting. The point of stage acting is to reach everyone in the audience, so emotions have to be large and movement has gotta seen by everyone watching. Film acting is more personal and subtle. It’s meant to be natural. Both are about finding truthful reactions to different situations.

The film having been a mockumentary meant that the actors were allowed to have a specific relationship with the camera and the people behind the camera. People interviewed and followed in documentaries have reasons for accepting to be in them, and they have real connections to the people observing them. This, I feel, added depth to our story.

People keep asking me why I like acting, and I feel that at this point, I should really come up with a sensical answer that I can give people. To do that, I’d also have to look super deep into myself. For now, I’ve just been saying that it’s fun being someone I’m not. It’s like a game. It’s playing around. It’s some of the most fun that I can have.