Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Long Journey of Film Making

So I'm sitting in the bedroom of my editor for my latest film typing away as he fiddles with the credits. It's been quite some time coming. It was a lengthy process... See in 2009 Darkstone Entertainment released a teaser trailer for their upcoming film Plan 9: a remake of the classic Z-grade cult film Plan 9 From Outer Space. Well I loved the film, as do a lot of people, thanks to its super-low budget special effects and terrible acting/plot/everything. It is very aptly called "the worst film ever made." I got interested in it because of the involvement of Caitlin Hill, a popular youtuber back in the day who decided to drop out of the production but oh well.

Fast forward a bit: It's 2010 and I'm in my first year of film school. I've just finished my first assignment film. An OK piece of work for a first year film student. Nicely shot but unfortunately opened with a shot of an alarm clock with the main character getting out of bed (to be fair it had a nice pull focus and isn't followed by a montage of them getting ready so I only am cursed with half of a film student cliché). I show to the director of Plan 9 and he tells me it looks good then tells me that he's going to be holding a competition sometime soon would I be interested in taking part of it? Heck yeah I would!

2011: first semester of Uni and I have a film to make for this competition. It's a 2-3 minute re-imagining of the original Plan 9 From Outer Space and I decided, foolishly, to do the majority of it by myself. Armed with a cast that outnumbers the crew and only my mother helping me with the costume I decided that I would make a short film that would require more effort on my part than my major film assignment for that semester... in less time. I constructed the sets (deliberately poorly made cardboard to mimic the super low budget cheesiness of 50s B-grade), composed the music, filmed, directed, produced, and edited it. It wouldn't be a David Cox film if I didn't do at least 4 different things.

Spoilers: I won that competition near the end of 2011. What was the prize? I get to make a new film! This film is a prequel (or "sister film") to the feature film and gets to be on the special features of the DVD release. Pretty sweet. Everyone gets to see my work. Well now it's 2012 and I've written the script. Time to make it. After a bit of getting distracted with the final major project of my film degree I start production at the start of 2013 and we shoot it in January. Only now, September, have we finished it. It was stressful as all hell.

The schedule was ridiculously tight. The two lead actors as well as the crew were both intensely busy so we had two shoot days to get everything with them done and then that was it. We managed this, thank goodness. Then we had to edit it. Unfortunately there was a specific thing that needed to be made (outside of the actors) to be filmed and it took forever. There was an issue at every step of the process which I won't go into but it could've been done a lot better. Delays delays delays.

I'm no longer sitting in that room with my editor. We exported it and I sent it off to Darkstone. Good times.

Months later we had to do ADR because issues forced me to rewrite a piece of dialogue we'd already shot. Can't reshoot anything so have to talk over it. This was incredibly difficult as I had to find a sound person who was available at the same time as the actress who was going off to Europe for 2 months and thus had a few random days of availability. Sound people are in high demand all the time and literally every time anything sound related needed to be done it'd be a different sound person. Sound recordist was different each day on set, we did two ADR sessions with two different sound people, and I went through a list of 20ish people before I got directed to someone in Canada who directed me to someone in Sydney to do the sound editing. This stressed me out so much that I became an insomniac for a week as this horrific deadline loomed. I managed it. Yay.

Insomnia isn't fun. You have so much more time to do things but everything becomes so difficult that you can't function properly and so all that extra time is a waste... a waste you're conscious for.

After a long and stressful search for a sound editor and many hour long drives to my editor's house to overlook things we made progress... At times I wanted to bang my head against a wall. Everything felt like it was taking longer than it should've. Our deadline was extended twice. But we managed... we did it...

It got done.

Then I got really drunk.

I finished a thing. I made a film and it's pretty alright I guess. I finished it and just in time for me to finish my last semester of my 4 year long stay at University. I can sigh in relief now... that this horribly lengthy production is over...

...and pick back up where I left off on Birdman nearly a year ago... Birdman that I wrote back in... 2011. Oh for...

Why does everything take forever to make? THEY'RE ONLY SHORT FILMS!

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