Since: May 2012
RE: The move to broader elements:
PRO: It's made it easier for teams to integrate the elements seamlessly into their films.
CON: It's made it easier for teams to integrate the elements seamlessly into their films.
Which is to say that I can see it from both angles, so I'm a bit torn. It's undeniable that the elements don't tend to get in the way of teams telling the story they want to tell. But if it's now easier to tell any story and just discretely shoehorn the elements in, my question would be, why do we have the required elements at all?
What I will say is that I think the best teams have always been able to find a way to make even very specific elements feel like a natural part of their films. And the more elements you have to integrate organically into your film, the greater the challenge, hence where I was coming from with my idea. But maybe not everyone gets as excited about brainstorming ways to incorporate elements as I do.
I think my general point is that teams may want an extra challenge, but I hope I can speak for every team when I say that we all still want to have a fun, enjoyable weekend, and not be mired down by a curveball that is technically hard but also not inspiring, and which just makes for a miserable time.
My own personal experience with Ultra was just the once, in the first year, and it pretty much broke us. In retrospect (even just days after the shoot weekend) I could think of dozens of better ideas and approaches we should have chosen, but in the heat of the moment the challenge threw us, and ironically did the precise opposite of the point of Ultra, by putting us in a crisis management mode and leading us down the route of making safe and obvious decisions. So overall we didn't cope well with the challenge, but also the specific Ultra challenge itself that year was a bit of a downer for us: a big part of the excitement of the comp for me at least is getting to be openly creative because really anything is possible, and being forced to revisit an earlier film instantly narrowed and diminished that blue-sky excitement.
I wonder if the most successful Ultra challenges are actually the ones imposed on themselves by teams. One or two examples come to mind, like Rowan deciding to make a 3D film. The year before the first Ultra, we challenged ourselves to make two films instead of one, and that definitely fell in the hard-but-fun category.
Ha, maybe that's a potential Ultra idea: make two 48HOURS films (each separately must comply with all the elements and requirements), both of which exist in the same world/story/reality. Could be fun. But I dunno, it's a tricky one!