Everyone in Hollywood is "working on their own projects." What that means, exactly, is unclear. It actually depends on whom you talk to: they may be writing a feature-length script, parts of a novel, recording music, filming material for a documentary, or even just scribbling down thoughts as they come to mind. Basically, if a person's brain is functioning (and in this town, it's questionable as to how many have functioning brains), they are "working on their own project."
I, for years, have been working on my own projects, some with more success than others. For the last few weeks, I've been working on my own project with the intention of actually producing it. And the good news is, thanks to the help of some incredibly talented friends, I produced a short film over the weekend.
I had been writing a bunch of shorter, sketch-like bits during my unemployment, with the hopes of maybe shooting one of them at some point in my life. Finally, just before the holidays, I decided to push forward with one little script for a short mocumentary that I found somewhat amusing. It is not the most original idea, but for a little short film, I thought it would be fun to make it, and if it came out well, I thought my friends and I may get a chuckle out of it.
Next up was trying to get people on board. Of course, I wrote it with Heather in mind, and she reluctantly agreed. I called Dave and Blake, and both seemed excited at the prospect at doing something on our own. So I cast a few good, and talented, friends (Adam Conger, Jon Lafferty, Mike Onofri, Jay Skowronek, and Yancey Dunham) in the rest of the parts.
A few weeks ago, Blake, Dave, and I began actually planning out the shoot and all the details. Since I was "financing" the short, everything needed to be cheap. Blake volunteered to get cameras from friends of his - and these cameras were f'ing awesome. Dave was able to borrow major lighting equipment and expendables from his office. We decided our locations would be my apartment (shhh, don't tell my landlord), Blake's house, and Heather's theater. If it weren't for these things coming together, then it would've never happened. But it all came together, and we were able to move on with the shoot.
We began shooting Saturday afternoon and wrapped last night - a very short and quick shoot, and the amazing thing is that we crammed a lot of material into those two days. It does make a huge difference that Blake and Dave have been through a ton of productions, and the three of us seemed to be on the same page about what we needed to pull this thing off.
Dave planned out the schedule for us and created call sheets for our crew. When I got the official call sheet, I was so pumped - it looked like something you'd get for an actual production. How awesome is that? For me, pretty f'ing awesome! I may actually frame one. I was able to lean on Dave for scheduling, logistics, planning meals, etc. Plus, Dave took on the role of grip, set photographer, time-lapse guy, coffee bitch, etc. Dave did everything and anything...he just made life a hell of a lot easier.
Blake shot the entire thing, and it looked pretty damn great. The toughest stretch of shooting was probably Saturday night. It was the kind of shoot where we could plan a few shots here and there, but for the most part, we were just going to shoot on the fly. As we were running around, every time I looked over Blake's shoulder into the screen, I got so excited about how insanely good it looked. As the weekend progressed, every set up we did looked better than the previous, and I couldn't have been more thrilled. He also shot a lot of photos that will end up in the short, including this one of Heather in character...
I hadn't worked with actors since college, so it was going to be a bit different than dealing with reality show contestants. These guys (and gal) are all pros and I didn't want to be the real amateur on set. But they were so easygoing and loose, that it made me feel calm and relaxed. They were on their toes and ready to do anything I threw at them. A number of times, Blake and I had to hold in the laughter as they were messing around on camera. They were all game to do anything we asked them to do, and as a group, everyone gelled. It was the ideal group of actors to work with - they were so much fun and brought so much to the table, it made the shoot amazingly fun and breezy. They were exactly on note from moment one. I can't single any of them out - they were all great: Mike was fearless and shirtless; Adam brought the emotion; Jon had the scary/funny intensity; Jay broke his on-camera acting cherry while playing the outsider perfectly; and Heather said some hysterically disgusting things in front of Blake and I that will scar us for life.
The one production aspect that Dave, Blake and I had no experience with was designing lighting for the stage at the theater. Yancey usually does the lighting designs for the shows at the theater and was cool enough to light the stage and run the boards for us. It added such a cool element to the shoot that would've taken the rest of us a long time to work with. On top of that, he gave a really damn funny performance.
I really can't thank everyone enough for their hard work this weekend. Everyone went above and beyond to get this made, and I appreciate it so much. I hope everyone else had a good time doing it. After doing this shoot, I felt energized and excited. Obviously, when it's done, I'll throw it online and post it up here for the world to see.
It felt as fun making this as it did making films back in college. I hope I do it again before another 10 years goes by.