So. I did a short film.
I did it with a 9 other people (all their credits in the short film) and it was an experience to say the least.
I’ve never really done something like this, not on this scale. And for me, the scale was fairly large in terms of the amount of work. From writing, to casting, to organizing the shoot, to finding locations, all of it was an endeavor and gave me a pretty clear insight into the work it takes to make a movie. So, what was the process and the day to day like? Well, let’s start from the beginning.
Well first I needed a script and even before that I needed an idea. I’ve never been particularly great at telling small scale stories so this was an uphill battle from the start. I wanted to do something that was relatable as far as theme goes. I settled on doing a story about wanting to achieve something more than what you currently have, and understanding that some times it’s just a straight up fight to get through the day when you’re “going through the motions” so-to-speak. With that, I wrote A Beautiful Contender. It accomplished what I wanted it to in a script but the problem was it had several locations, a lot of talking roles, and a ton of background actors needed. In short, it was a terrible idea for my first short film.
So. I tried again.
This time I went with the same concept of wanting to be more but with a twist: being held back by people who themselves are going nowhere. Past that, I wanted the lead to have to take the future into their own hands (a theme I made fairly literal in the film). But I had to make it smaller. Like really small. 2 characters, 1 location, 1 room, 10 mins. Very doable for a short film, but hard to make interesting. Did I succeed in making it interesting? Well, that’s not for me to decide, but I do think that it did tell the story (for the most part) that I wanted to tell. With that, the script for In Your Hands came to life. Now, there was rewrites and I bounced ideas off of Brian (the Assistant Director) and all that but we’re gonna fast forward.
Now, I had a script but no crew and no location. Finding the location was pretty easy though. Since it took place in a house I just needed to convince some friends to let me film in their home over a weekend. Which, thanks to my friends Ryan and Rebecca, that got sorted out real quick.
Casting was touch more difficult. I didn’t know any actors and just getting friends to fill this role would have been a…poor decision. So, I did a lot of research. I found acting schools near me and asked if I could put up casting calls and I also used Backstage.com. Backstage is where I ultimately got most, if not all, my auditions from. But before all that I needed a place to host it. I found a local dance studio that allowed me to hold auditions. Hosting auditions with Brian turned out to be a lot of fun. Hearing the words come to life (we did a blind reading) and seeing everyone’s take on the characters really helped me see the film for what it could be rather than what I currently had written. I remember being at a convention and reviewing the audition videos in the hotel room and trying to narrow down who would be great to not only bring the characters to life, but who would be great to work with. This was gonna be a labor intensive process, so that was a big requirement as well. When I finally settled on Jess, who plays Kyle, and Kim, who plays Grace, it felt like a real project all of the sudden. When I sent them emails letting them know that they got the part, I remember waiting and hoping that when they responded that they were still interested and that all the “fine print” was acceptable to them. When they agreed, there was no turning back, one way or another a film was going to be made.
But I had no crew.
Well. That’s not entirely true. Running parallel with finding actors, I was trying to lock down crew. I needed a DP, a Boom Mic operator, and someone to handle audio at least. Brian brought Colton (the DP) into the mix which was stellar. Colton’s work with a camera is great and he really had had an eye for setting up a shot. There was some talks about getting someone to operate the boom mic and things started to get a little iffy if said person was gonna be able to make the shoot, but after some back and forth, Colton brought Austin into the mix who ended up being the Boom Mic Operator. Audio editing was something I knew I’d need but, again, locking this down was hard. Schedules for those I’d ask weren’t lining up so then I ended up taking that task on myself. Which was intense. Now, clearly there are more roles to fill, but we’ll get to that in part 2 of the retrospective.
Wanna watch the film? Check it out – In Your Hands