Collaboration - Making a film in 24hrs

Creative challenges usually come in the form of something f’ed up on a shoot or rolling with a direction change from the client or you’re just not “feeling it”.
Putting yourself into a creative challenge contest is a whole new ball of wax.
And, it’s one I would do again in an instant.
As the time drew closer to the 10pm email of our mystery theme and prop that was to be the basis for the following 24hrs of movie making magic, we had our resources all in the ready. We had cast actors that could handle a wide range, even one that was a brilliant “that guy”. We had gear, we worked out the technical bugs, we had crew, we had several locations, batteries were charged, the cooler was filled, we were ready.
The Andy’s and I got the email…Theme – Courage, mandatory prop – Milk. Ok….um…go!

This is where the beauty of collaboration, experience, communication, points of view, and being prepared come into play. I’ve known Andy Spyrison for a looooong time. Been pals, been Client/Photographer, given each other enough shit and ball busting over the years that there isn’t going to be any issue saying an idea doesn’t work. At the same time, each of us can say exactly why something isn’t working or why it does work for either of us. Andy T and Andy S have a similar relationship...no punches pulled as we threw out ideas.

The Brainstorming session was quick, decisive, and we narrowed about 30 ideas into our 1 concept – An Agoraphobic, OCD, character who has run out of milk, but can’t go outside to get more, meanwhile his friends are coming by or calling to check on him. They are all enjoying milk in some subtle way while our hero has non.

Scripting – Mostly Andy Tillman. We’d all add to the story, “hey how about this, this would be cool, ooh, ooh, what if he did this” was how ideas were tossed about.

Once we were a little into the scripting, we had the basic direction and story line the film was going to take. At about 1am we called everyone who had expressed interest and was applicable to the project. The actors, the crew next, I called Tom from Bluebird…”Sooooo, I know you wanted to help out, I love that, what do you say to opening your bar at 8am”?

At about 3am we had the script, a plan, and we were off to catch a wink or two and then the film making assault begins. 7am call time at my loft.

I am very fortunate to have worked with two seasoned broadcast veterans on this project. Spyrison has been a part of global TV spots, same with Tillman, who has directed and written several spots himself.  Drawing from their 30 or so years of experience was such an asset and I learned a ton, just in this one project.

The shoot went smooth, the actors were a pleasure to work with. Basically working with a quick pre take read and cue cards, they nailed lines over and over. We wrapped about 4pm at my place, the editor was working with the files, the clock was ticking, now we had to put all the parts into a story.

In collaborations everyone has to come to the table with something of value. Point of view, a skill, money, vision, whatever it is. You need each other to reach a goal. Every person that worked on this project, the actors, the crew, myself and the Andy’s (which I’m just going to call them that from now on) all brought something and displayed our abilities and our work ethics transparently and under a common situation...the time crunch. 
In doing projects like this, where new people are involved with a core group, when there is pressure put on yourself and the team, rather than client, when you HAVE to own every part, not just your specific role, what you learn and the overall take away is almost more important than the final product. We're doing this for ourselves, we're doing this to challenge creativity, our abilities, and hone skills that paying clients will seek out. No excuses, only solutions.

The ending of our evening was proving to be just as dramatic as the excitement of 22hrs ago. Render Render…double checking, burning the discs…tick tock. I ran to my garage to retrieve my pony for the inevitable express. My instructions….”when I get back, I want a disc, in an envelope, and the address, in my hand!”. I came back, ran up stairs, helmet still on, grabbed the discs and moved out. The sound of a Ducati 900SS under full throttle on surface streets is one that will either have pedestrians and children crying and running for cover, set off every car alarm within sonic vicinity, or plant a semi permanent ear to ear smile on the rider....but, is highly illegal (full throttle in second gear = 93mph) so, don't do it!!….with 30 seconds to spare, I bound through the doors of the film race drop location, envelope stamped, and the next words are "close it, we're done". We had made it. I no longer cared about the contest, we achieved the goal of making a pretty cool little film in 24hrs, I had learned a ton, and I was tired...the good kind of tired, the kind you only get when you've gone all out for a long time.

A the following week all the entries were screened at the Portage Theater, we didn't hide our heads, there were some really wonderful submissions, cool people, the cast and crew showed up for the screening and after party. Really a fun, rewarding experience.

 Take a look, I think you’ll like it.

1 comment:

  1. Love it - especially the Saturday Night Fever strut at the end. Great work, guys. (30 seconds to spare? ouch.)