Double Negative - A 48 Hour Film Project

edited September 2017 in Filmmaking

Hey yall,

As with many years in the past, as this summer has been winding down we decided to enter something we generally just really love doing- the 48 Hour Film Project. We've done the San Antonio, TX event for the past few years after winning it all in 2014 (and the bulk of awards in subsequent years)- and continued that participation two weeks ago. We were given 'Mystery' as our required genre and I wanted to try something a little different (but still within our wheelhouse) this go-around, so we splintered the short film we made into three parts/chapters- the same crime and story from essentially three different perspectives- and I'm pretty happy with how it all came out.

The result is Double Negative, an ensemble mystery crime film (do we really make anything else?) with a neo-noir edge to it.

At-present we're not able to show the full short film publicly online, but I wanted to share the promotional materials and teaser trailer, and at least announce it as a project we've made.

Double Negative has had its premiere screening and gone through a round of judging in the competition, and we've been really pleased with the results and how it has all come out thus far. UPDATE: The short film has been released in its entirety. You can check it out here:

In addition to expanding the cast and complexity of narrative as much as we can with each effort and year of competition, this year we continued to utilize our frequent collaborator and composer, Matt Bukaty, to develop three distinct versions of the same theme for each story perspective in the short- which I think came out really cool and interesting. 

The film is nominated for Best Film, Best Directing, Best Writing, Best Actor, Best Acting Ensemble, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Musical Score, Best Sound Design and is in the top 3 finalists for the 'Audience Choice' award. We screen in a final Awards Ceremony, alongside two other nominees for Best Film, Sunday, September 10th- after which a formal online release date will be announced. We're excited about that and hope, fingers-crossed, things move in our favor.

Here is the official theatrical poster:


Annnnnnnyway, just wanted to share our work with this community, and present the project. It's something we're very happy with and hope to share in full with you all soon.


  • Love the trailer!  That and the promo stills have grabbed my attention. Can't wait to see the full short!

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Looking forward to it. A little "Rashoman" influence, perhaps? I mean that in a great way, of course. 

  • Great stuff! The who killed Jessica poster is awesome.

  • edited August 2017

    Thanks, yall! Looking forward to showing it to you guys. And funny thing, Triem23- I'm sad to say I haven't actually ever seen (though I obviously know of it). My influences in writing this one, this go-around, were actually more spontaneous. I typed in 'mystery movie' on Google, and got:

    Mystic River, The Usual Suspects, Memento, Shutter Island, etc.

    I then typed in 'mystery TV' and got:

    The Night Of, Big Little Lies, Sherlock, Twin Peaks, etc.

    I ended up taking what I liked of both of these quick-check suggestions, and what I'd seen of them and enjoyed or thought we could thematically replicate and build off of- and low and behold, that's exactly what we did. I was actually writing a visual reference board to explain to a filmmaker asking me about the genesis of these ideas, and found it interesting to see, from script to screen, subsconsciously (since I personally was neither the director nor DP), how closely the final product aligned with the influences. It's actually sort of cool to look at:

  • Hey! As an update for anyone interested- the short film just premiere this evening online for a limited 2-week run. If you want to check it out, feel free! Would love to know the comments or critiques of this community, should anyone have anything to say about it.

  • Another year, another damned spectacular, hard boiled, award winner from Atomic.

    As always the team produces in two days something one would think take a good month to do.

    So the Rashomon comparison isn't quite apt as, to me, the more intriguing question is less on what happened to Jessica and more of if Maurice eventually pays the price. It's what you've left unanswered that really is the hook.

    As usual the visuals were stunning, the acting strong, the edits tight and the audio nicely moody. It's always a pleasure to watch an Atomic production. 

  • Very good, only gripe for me personally was the sound, the music at times was a bit too loud, best described as if someone was playing the instruments right next to me.

  • edited September 2017

    Thanks, you guys! You're truly too kind.

    Andy- what can I say? Heh I tend to be more overbearing with my sound mixes to push for more 'sonic soup' in the final product. I know it's a habit not many care for. Though hopefully the more deliberate pace of piano notes and mix here worked a bit better to get under your skin and throw you off/unsettle a little. (That at least was the intention)

    And yeah, Triem- the 'who killed her?' was more of a misdirect in the end for marketing sake, maybe, in how I approached it. The point was/is to glance at these little unresolved vignettes into each chapter's lives, where you get just enough of a sliver to understand the gist of it (abusive, toxic relationship, sincere good-natured father, by-the-book procedural cops) in reverse order, so that we as the audience have a full scope of the crime (even if the context of the motive doesn't matter), so that by the end we feel for the likes of Jessica and Maurice, if nothing else. Maybe that comes through, maybe not. But that was the goal, for sure.

    We actually initially, and it's written in the script, ended on the boyfriend Josh washing his own hands frantically- and cut back to the cops with Maurice in the back of the squad car, joking about 'why people do it', ending on a frame of Maurice's sunken face and the words of the older cop saying 'Desperate people do desperate things'. But it felt too forced and on-the-nose in the end, and didn't make the cut. It was also the first thing we shot, during daytime, and just looked and felt in the hot Texas sun too bright and off-tone with the rest of the movie, which ended up all being relatively dark, nighttime, or dusk itself. (Probably for the better)

    It's funny sometimes how 48 requirements and timeframes push you toward abandoning thematic elements or aesthetics instinctually- because usually (as I hope is the case here) it actually makes for a better and more cohesive and concise story and project.

  • Beautiful short!  No crits from this end.  I've been part of a couple 24-hour competitions in the past (one might've been 48? It's been several years, can't quite remember), but none of the entries I saw (or were a part of, frankly) were nearly this good.  I like the same-story-from-three-perspectives approach you chose, and you executed it wonderfully to keep the mystery going as long as possible.  Looking forward to seeing more from Atomic!

  • Thanks, man! Glad you enjoyed it.

  • As Triem23 says "It's what you've left unanswered that really is the hook."  and, for me, that includes imagining a plethora of possible back stories for the characters and things that I expected to happen.... but didn't.
    you can just watch it as a simple story 

    Really intriguing (and well shot, acted, edited  etc etc etc of course)


  • Thanks, Tony- appreciate you giving your time to checking it out.

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