The short film Fire Engine Red was the winner of the 48 Hour Film Project in a “second chance” vote, besting about 100 other films across the world. In the process, the small team, mostly from Central Arkansas, found themselves a new family.
“I consider ya’ll (the cast) my film family,” said Macall Gilmartin who plays the teenage Grace Shuttles in the film.
Meeting with the cast and crew, it became apparent that this was, indeed, an extended family. The meeting was much like a family reunion, only, the kind of family reunion where you are happy to see your family.
There was lots of smiling, hugs and laughing as the group sat down to enjoy a meal together at the Whole Hog Cafe on Cantrell in Little Rock.
Indeed, the group was a big family, while made up of families like Gilmartin and her parents and brother. All four family members were in the film. Her parents, Brian and Lisa, played the parents in the film. Her brother, Elliot, played a friend of the teenage Tommy Shuttles, Ned Geoffrey.
For Brian and his wife Lisa, they were at the auditions for Elliott (son) and Macall (daughter), but ended participating in the film. Looking at the finished project, he said he was glad to have been a part:
. . .Looking back now, having been a part of it, it was such a unique experience, to be apart of a great group of people, the whole weekend, everyone just worked so well together, and to see the final result, really, a heart warming story, and it really inspires you to want to do more of these.
So many things had to come together just to make the film, much less one that gets to compete at Filmapalooza, and it had to come together in a 48 hour period per the rules of the 48 Hour Film Project.
The film has to be written, shot and produced in 48 hours. Everything has to be accomplished during this timeframe. Each group draws a genre when the period starts. Each film has to have a required character, prop, line of dialogue and the genre. Whiffle Productions, the group that produced Fire Engine Red, drew holiday for the genre.
As a prop, the group had a melon. The character was Tommy Shuttles while the line of dialogue was, “What do we have here?”
The group then went to work shooting the film.
Prior to the 48 hour period, the group was allowed, per the rules, to scout for a location or locations, assemble a cast and crew and secure equipment. No creative elements were allowed until the 48 hour period started.
Michael Armstrong and Jim Patterson, the Co-Writer and Co-Directors, scouted locations prior to the 48 hours and chose the house of Patty M. McCook and the Central Fire Station of the Little Rock Fire Department. Not knowing what the story would be, the two discovered a red fire engine while waiting to meet with Chief Bradley.
The group, of course, chose holiday and were easily able to incorporate a Christmas scene. Armstrong had recruited his father, Roger Armstrong, to do narration, but wasn’t sure there would be anything else for him to do, so he asked him to help provide food for the crew. As it turned out, Armstrong and Patterson needed a Santa Clause, and his father, well known as Arkansas’ Santa Clause, was able to fill the roll. Armstrong plays Santa for the capital every year.
The group had story after story about how things always seemed to work out and felt that there was a serendipitous nature to the film. The fact that Roger Armstrong, Santa Clause, is a pastor was not lost on the cast and crew.
Armstrong and Patterson also benefited from the help of longtime cinematographer David Bogard and producer Jim Linsley. Bogard actually won with The Courier at the 2010 Little Rock 48 Hour Film Project. The two are veterans and helped put together the vision Patterson and Armstrong had for a story that they were “making it up as we went along.”
Jim Patterson, Michael Anderson – Co-Director
David Bogard – Producer, Videographer
Jim Linsley – Producer
Editor – Keith Carson
Brad McClellan – Screenplay
Brian Gilmartin – George Shuttles
Lisa Gilmartin – Cindy Shuttles
Aidan Billy – Child Tommy Shuttles
Micah Patterson – Teenage Tommy Shuttles
Macall Gilmartin – Teenage Grace Shuttles, Daughter
Grace Pitts – Child Grace Shuttles, Daughter
Jim Patterson – Fireman
Roger Armstrong – Santa Clause
Eli Patterson – Anthony (homeless boy)
Elliott Gilmartin – Ned Geoffrey
Christian Taylor – Teenage girl
Pancho – the cat
With the win, they will be competing in the 48 Hour Film Project’s grand finale, Filmapalooza.
Watch the film, Fire Engine Red