24 Hour Video Race Countdown: The 9th Best Video of the Decade

Over the next few weeks leading up the 10th anniversary of the 24 Hour Video Race, we will be looking back at the ten best movies made by race participants as chosen by the race organizers. Today, at number nine, is “Midnight to Midnight” (2002) by “The Steve Show.” After the video, there’s a brief interview with Steve McWilliams who headed up the filmmaking team.

To view all the videos in the countdown, go here.

Front Row: Where are you now? Is filmmaker still part of your life?

Steve McWilliams: I continue to shoot and edit all types of media, including broadcast, educational and web. Interestingly enough, in 2002 we were shooting film and just starting to embrace HD.  Now film is like kodacrome and I ‘acquire’ material on everything from a GoPro, DSLR and cameras like the Red. We certainly haven’t lost our ‘visual appetite’ and with the web as a venue, folks that tell stories with pictures will be sought after for a very long time.

FR: How did the idea for your movie emerge during the 24 hours you spent making it?

SM: We wanted to be able to go anywhere with the story, so a ‘movie trailer’ was the perfect vehicle. A trailer doesn’t have to make a lot of sense, but you get a chance to do as many ‘hero shots’ as time allows.

As a production company, I wanted to show the capabilities of what could be done in Dallas Texas in 24 hours. So the idea was to cram as much production value into the project as we could. With the generous help of a lot of crew, vendors and suppliers, we had:

  • motion control footage of the ‘prop’
  • custom After Effects title sequence and credits
  • machine gun fire and weapons
  • a dawn shot with a remote control camera-helicopter at White Rock
  • time lapse shots of the provided ‘location’
  • high speed shots, done at 200 fps on film, that Video Post and Transfer, processed and transfered
  • underwater shots of bad guy fight
  • dialogue scene in a Lear Jet interior, shot on the tarmac at Love Field in the middle of the night
  • original music with sound effects, scored to the edit, by James Neil
  • a newscast that featured Quin Matthews and accompaning photos of our actors, shot in studio that night
  • shots in a tatoo parlor
  • our ‘prop’ incorporated into a DVD cover that was used in the story
  • shots on the MPS stage, in Deep Ellum, Love field, on the Steve Show stage,
  • and a million dollars in fake cash in a silver brief case.

FR: What was the most frustrating part about filmmaking under the race’s conditions/ What were the most freeing aspects?

SM: The most frustrating part of the process was having to delete some scenes that we really like, but couldn’t fit into the time limit of five minutes.  We had a great FBI agent stage sequence that is on the cutting room floor. The most freeing aspects was being able to use the smaller, consumer cameras to collect the footage, even though we had to compromise on the ‘look’. We did boom shots with mic fishpoles and had DV cameras in home made underwater housings. Now with DSLR technology, we could have the same advantage of small camera size but with awesome looking results. That would be satisfiying.

FR: Why did you originally enter the race – how did you put together your team?

SM: Everyone that I work with in this business, we don’t really consider what we do work. Doing something like this, on our free time, is like sport. We couldn’t be happier.   It is a real testimony to the caliber of professioals we have in Texas. Perhaps in other markets folks, would want to know what was in it for them, but in Dallas, Texas, we stay awake for 40 hours and do it for the love of doing-it.

FR: Looking back at your movie, do you have any reaction to it/thoughts/things you would do differently?

SM: I would love to do it again with today’s technology, but I don’t think I could ever have a richer collection of folks than we put together for that project. Betsy Katz produced with Nancy Williams, and Betsy is deeply missed for not only for her professionalism, but for her spirit. Being the first 24 Hour race made it extra fun for us, and that would be hard to capture again. As an occasional judge for the race videos in years since, I admire those who have followed and have completed some amazing and creative work.

FR: Has the race had any lasting impact on how you view movies/moviemaking?

SM: For me, the race reinforced what I have always known about Texas filmmakers. This is what we do, because we love it.  In any market I have every worked in, you can tell who, on the crew, is from Texas, because they have an attitude and often training and education to make them the best at what they asked to do. You gotta love that about Texas.

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