My 48 Hour Film Project Movie

Last weekend I participated in the 48 Hour Film Project in NYC. Basically, each team gets 48 hours to write, film, edit and submit a 4 to 7 minute film. You draw a genre and are then given a prop, a line of dialogue and a character name and have to work it all into your movie.

We had:
Genre: “Film De Femme” (strong female character)
Prop: Tennis Ball
Dialogue: “Are you sure?”
Character: Ethan St John, President of ___

I proudly present our movie, “Margot”:

Our creative process was:

Friday 10pm – 1am: 8 people shooting around ideas for a film, agreeing on an idea then story arcing it

Saturday 1am – 3am: 5 of us who were going to be writing and acting in it and the director wrote a first draft

Saturday 3am – 5am: 3 of us wrote a second draft while sending everyone else to sleep

Saturday 7am: Start setting up for filming and cast the roles, go through the second draft and make additional changes with the whole team

Saturday 9am: PA’s, PM’s and DP show up

Saturday 11am – 11pm: Film the different scenes

Saturday 11pm – Sunday 10am: Edit the first cut

Sunday 10am to 1pm: Give notes on the first cut and re-edit

Sunday 1pm to 7pm: Fix up the sound, make final touch ups, export and submit the film

I wound up not acting in it, which was okay with me because there was so many other things for me to do. I wound up sleeping 5 hours in two nights.

My favorite part of this is how 5 comedians came together and wrote a dark movie that has very little comedy in it…

Last thought: I highly recommend everyone pick a “48 Hour Challenge” where you have 48 hours to complete a task that would otherwise take a really long time (write a short book, make a music album, paint ten paintings, etc). You’d be surprised at how efficient you can be when you’re on the clock.

My Writing Process

Here’s my current comedy writing process, hopefully this is helpful to someone.

The Daily:

Every morning, when I wake up and before I have breakfast, I write three pages of stream of consciousness by hand. My goal is to just write for fifteen minutes without stopping my pen. Anything goes in this and I really try not to judge it. Most of the stuff I write isn’t even an attempt at a joke, but occasional funny ideas pop into there, and the more important thing it does is get the writing momentum going for the day.writing-center

Whenever I notice something, think of something or something happens to me that I find funny, I write it down. Usually I type it into the notes feature on my phone, but sometimes if I have a notepad with me, I’ll write it on that. I usually note between 1 and 5 funny things each day.

The Weekly:

I’ll email my newest notes myself once a week and then go through each idea. If an idea still seems funny to me, I go through it that one idea a few times and rewrite it as a stand up bit. If I like the joke, I’ll move it into my joke file, and put it under the “new jokes” header. If I don’t like the new joke or if an original note is completely uninspiring, I cut and paste them into a file of “New Jokes that are still forming” (aka the junkyard). If an idea seems better as a sketch, I put it in a file called “Sketch Ideas” and before my weekly sketch group meeting, I go through that file to write a sketch.

I have a weekly stand up writing group, and I work out my newest jokes there and discuss them. More than half of the jokes that I bring in there, I never even try at an open mic, cause I can see they don’t work. We’ll discuss a joke at the writing group, I’ll take notes and I’ll either rewrite it or put it into the “still forming” pile.

If the joke passes the writers group, I’ll try it at an open mic (after I’ve said it aloud to myself five or ten times to more or less memorize it). I analyze how the joke sounds and feels the first time on stage, and if I still like it, I’ll keep doing it at mics and random bar shows. If the joke keeps working, it starts to go into my “better shows” set. Otherwise, it eventually ends up in the “still forming” pile.

I try to go through my existing jokes once a week and see if I have any updates to them, because I usually make a change in a live set before I make it in my file.

And whenever I work on a new joke or a complete rewrite of an existing joke, I create a new word document where I only have that joke there, so I don’t get distracted by looking at other jokes.

Once a week, I review my videos, and write the performance critiques. (I count this as part of my stand up writing.) While I watch the videos, I’ll have my joke file open and edit it down on the spot.

The Actual Writing

I talk into my mic as I write and when I practice the jokes, I’ll do them without looking at the word file. Sometimes I’ll come up with additional punch lines when I’m practicing memorizing the new material. Talking into the mic helps this “writing on your feet” process more than just talking aloud.

Accessing Jokes

I keep a copy of my latest version of my jokes on Google Docs so then I can access my entire joke file on my phone wherever I am.

How do you do your stand up writing? I’m always looking for new ideas on how to be more productive…

Organizing Jokes Using Microsoft Word Outline View

I’ve recently found a great new way to organize my material and I thought I’d share it. (You’ll need Microsoft Word for this, although other programs might have a similar feature.)

Before I give instructions, here’s what the end result might look like:


Basically, when you click the little “+” button it expands into lower levels of headings and then into the actual joke text. So how do you do this from scratch?

Select View – > Outline


You’ll get a blank screen with one bullet point, that’s your highest level of header


Type in some categories of jokes, then under each category type in the name


Then highlight the joke title’s (in the above case, Joke 1, Joke 2 and Joke 3) and click the green arrow that’s pointing to the right in orderto indent the jokes. Notice when your cursor is on “joke 1” the “Level 1” sign changes to “Level 2”


Type in joke text under each joke, then click the little drop down arrow below level 2 and select “body text”


There you go, you’re now more organized with your jokes. Click the “+” and “-“ buttons to expand and collapse joke sections


If you want to view and edit jokes normally, just click on image016

You get the following view:


And yes, this is a pain to do the first time, but once you’re done, you have all your jokes nice and organized and it’s easy to add new jokes to this file, as well as to find a specific joke. Plus, you can now easily build a set list based off of your joke titles.

Have additional questions on this or other topics? Click here to learn about my mentoring services.

Other Comedy Tips:

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Dumpster Diving – The Music Video

I wrote this song based on the time I was doing comedy until 2am every Friday and Saturday night in NYC. By the time I’d get to the bars with my comedian friends, the cream of the crop was long gone. So we started to affectionately refer to going out this late as “Dumpster Diving”.


I apologize for my lack of musical skills in both singing and background music. At least now you know my joke of “I got into stand up cause I can’t share the spot light, but I can’t sing or dance. So it was either this or tennis… And I can’t play tennis drunk!” is based on truth.

If you can actually sing, create a cooler video and/or record real background music and are interested in remixing this, please get in touch with me.