Occasionally opportunities come to me that I simply can't let pass by, especially when its a chance to work on a short film. Being part of a crew for me is so much more then setting up a light or holding a boom over the scene. Its a new opportunity to work with other visionaries and learn from them at every chance.
Recently Almost Famous Film Festival put on a 72-hour film challenge, you heard that correctly. Make a film including a overall theme, a specific prop and a necessary line of dialogue within a 72 hour time frame. The top 20 films would then be selected and shown on a big screen at a Downtown Phoenix cinema, that same evening a winner would be crowned. Our team was assembled from a group of friends, some based in film and others such as myself, rather dedicated enthusiasts. Needless to say there was plenty of equipment to go around, to the outside world we would appear far from amateur. Open ended casting calls had been placed on Facebook pages, calling for actors for a film we hadn't written with a plot we didn't know, we would make it work.
A brief pre production meeting under our belts and we headed to the announcement Friday evening to get the prompt for the challenge, the clock would start its countdown at 7:30 pm from then on life would become a blur. Short two minute video led us onto this years theme, "Deception". Soon flanked by the required prop, a phone sending / receiving a message, and a film submission would not be considered unless it had a brief line of dialogue "I can't believe this is happening". Teams couldn't have left their chairs sooner if you had let off a starting pistol, we promptly tailed behind another team as we headed for the door, already filled with excitement, for this was a prompt that we were all happy to tackle.
Soon we found ourselves at a table getting food, bouncing ideas off each other, telling stories both based in reality and fiction, searching for a standout. The gears were turning but the night was young, we signed our checks and left for John's town house where things would start to get interesting. Somewhere around 10pm we started to piece together a story line about the intimate contact we have with our uber drivers, we tend to share things with them we wouldn't with our friends and family, throw in an affair, and murder and we had what we thought was the making of a compelling deception.
One member of the team had been absent until around midnight, Dom was the acting DP (Director of Photography), and upon his arrival a change was afoot, despite having spent the past few hours meticulously crafting our story line, working out the finite details of how this mystery would unfold, Dom wasn't sold. His doubt soon caused a subtle defection across the team, as we approached 1:30 AM the team was ready to scrap the "uber murder" and head back to the drawing board. However at this point in the evening we were mentally tried, and needed to get some air, a short walk down to circle K for some tea and snacks was accompanied by entertainment as the local bars let out around 2AM.
It turns out between Circle K and the walk back to the town house, a new story began to be written, difficult to understand at first, it was fueled by the passion of a few team members. The next few hours would be used to bring clarity to those who didn't agree. Just an hour or so before day break, we decided to divide and conquer, two members set off to write the final script, while the rest of us prepped equipment, charged batteries, and caught an hour or so of sleep. once day light broke, we would reach out to the actors we needed, as well as selected location, the main one of which would be my previous Tempe residence, as it allowed a space we could use for the entire day.
The next day we began shooting, arriving on location and unloading cars full of lighting, skrims, and camera equipment into the little house of alameda. The Dom directed the placement of LED panels just outside the exterior windows to push as much light into the kitchen area giving us on call morning sunshine for our first scene.
As setup continued, and we awaited the arrival of our first actor, there was still one slight problem. our cast called for two actors and one actress, we were still missing our second male. Group discussion occurred and whether I liked it or not, I had been chosen to fill the role should I need to, based on my appearance "fitting the character". I am not one to jump in front of a camera, which is why I have try my best to be good behind one. When working on such a tight timeline to create something, everyone has to take on roles they wouldn't normally full fill.
With the arrival of our actor, the scene was set, and cameras were carried into place, it looked more real by the minute, I would be acting in our film. I stepped outside into the brisk morning air to make a call for some outfits, I read off a list of items I would need to play the part to my father, and he responded "I'll be there soon with everything", he's never seems to let me down. I opened the door and found my boom pole as we were ready to start our first shot of the day.