One year ago this week I acted in a small role in a short film that had a seminal influence on my life, both socially and professionally. See that blog post [here]. I got to break out my acting chops that hadn’t been used in several years and I had a blast! I made several new friends who, in the last year, have grown to become good friends and some great friends.
As the weekend for the 2011 Film Challenge drew nigh, I began to wonder if the group would reconvene to make lightning strike twice. Luckily so, with one significant change. I would not be acting, but directing and producing! Naturally I was thrilled… and terrified simultaneously. Alongside one of those friends who I met at last year’s Film Challenge, Josh, I donned my “first-time film directing” hat and the work began. Thankfully most of the same people from last year returned, which meant working with Emmy Award winning Scott Colwell as the Director of Photography, and many other amazingly talented people.
The eve of the challenge finally arrived and the challenge was given:
GENRE: Film de Femme or Mockumentary (we chose Mockumentary)
CHARACTER: Cameron Murphy, pizza delivery person
PROP: a bag of potatoes
DIALOGUE: “Are you sure you should be doing that?”
By 3am, we had our story, a finished script, locations selected, and casting completed. Four very short hours of sleep later, we officially moved from pre-production into production. We managed to keep the locations down to two sites. We shot at the first, a public location, for a little over two hours. Then we moved to our primary location, a house owned by one of the cast, Ron Rodenmeyer and his family. We shot interiors and exteriors, in seven locations, moved furniture, created a messy kitchen, and forced his family to be “quiet on set” all day. We simply couldn’t have done it without the generosity and benevolence of the Rodenmeyer family. Many, many thanks!
Production wrapped that evening, and after some much needed sustenance, we moved into post-production. Josh started the arduous task of editing (importing video clips, audio clips, syncing, sound effects, cuts, etc. I made sure we were squared away with the 47 required forms of paperwork and working with our composer for the score. After a much needed full night’s sleep, post-production continued Sunday morning. There were bumps along the way, computer glitches, technical difficulties, attitudes, and tempers – plus laughs, numerous jokes with sexual innuendo, and tempestuous behavior born from deliriousness. It was unforgettable.
The film is now completed and I am immensely thankful for all those who participated. I was incredibly grateful and lucky to have such talented people volunteer their time and talents. I especially want to thank my dear friend Mary Beth Griffin, who drove up from Hattiesburg, was there at EVERY step of the filmmaking process, worked tirelessly on working out the script, props, hair and makeup, actor motivation, set design, script supervising, production logs, and so much more. She was literally at my beck and call. I would be in a room, need something, scream, “MB?” and would see her face in a matter of seconds. Never once did she say no, become inattentive or lethargic, or obnoxiously complain – to which anyone would have had every right to do.
So what can I now say? I’ve learned a vast amount about myself, my own filmmaking style, and the creative styles of others – all of which have become imprinting in my mind and have shaped and molded me. My mother always said, “You are a product of your environment.” I sincerely hope I can achieve a level of kindness, willingness, talent, and creativity close to that I glimpsed this weekend.
With words that are simply insufficient to express my gratitude, I stubbornly try: thanks.