Another year, another crazy weekend of making a film in 48 hours, and still one of our favorite ways to spend a summer weekend. And this year, we pulled in two awards: Best Use of Required Character and Best Writing. Not bad for 48 hours! So, what did we learn this year?
1) Friends make the best creative partners
You’d think we know this one already given that Josh and I are ENGAGED and business partners, but this year’s project really brought this lesson home. Our independent creative team, Blind Tiger Films (an homage to Josh’s high school video production team Friggin Tigger Productions) has always been comprised of our friends. Why? Because we love to make movies, we want to have fun making movies, and we want to help our friends love (and get better at) making movies too. This year we were really bummed to lose a lot of our core team due to scheduling conflicts. Instead of hiring people that were unquestionably qualified, we opted instead to branch out to newer friends for help, and we could not be happier that we did. Fun and creativity really go hand in hand. Working together with our friends really drew out the best in every person involved, and I think we all improved as actors, as directors, as writers, and as friends (awww) that weekend.
2) Write a script, and then forget about it.
This is a big one. For this year’s project, our goal was to make a more character-driven short film, and I think we definitely accomplished that. After we came up with the general story during the car ride home from Kickoff, we dove into developing the characters, and then determining how each character would handle different situations. We picked which situations they’d be in, talked about what each character would say during the scenes, and then broke for the evening for each actor to write a monologue for their character (and to do some night time filming at the West End Overlook).
To be safe, I wrote out a screenplay Friday night. I included the action, cues for the dialogue, general topics we wanted to cover in each scene, and potential dialogues and monologues. Oh, and the required line of dialogue underlined and highlighted and bolded and circled. We met back up for shooting Saturday morning, and what happened was pure magic. Each actor had written impeccable monologues that perfectly encapsulated their characters and fit in with the motif of our film. And each actor performed these monologues without a script or line prompting. They just became their characters. And the stuff that came out of theirs mouths, a mixture of rehearsed and improvised, was absolutely brilliant.
The improvisation within each scene really took it to a new level, and added an authenticity to the characters that made them relateable. I daresay character development trumps a perfectly written line, because a well-developed character will say the exact right thing for that character in any situation she gets thrown into.
3) Go for what makes you laugh.
Comedy is hard. We love comedy, but it can be nerve racking trying to figure out what an audience or a judge will find funny. Funny is subjective, and no matter how many funny lines or scenarios you have in your film, not everyone is going to understand all of them or laugh at them. Heck, I don’t even understand every single joke in our film. 360 no scope? Okay, if you say so Dan. I’m just going to eat another cookie.
So you know what I’ve learned? Don’t worry about if anyone else is going to find it funny. Write what you find funny, and that’s exactly what every character did. I added in non-dialogue elements (hopefully more of which will be included in the director’s cut) during my drunken escapades and the VA meeting to lighten the mood, and each VA member included lines that they thought were hilarious. I remember conservatively taking 20 takes to get through the line about Max’s wife peeing everywhere without someone busting up laughing. That’s how we knew we had to keep that line in, we couldn’t help but laugh at it, so someone else out there would probably find it funny too.
Since I can’t end a blog post on Max’s wife peeing everywhere, I’ll end with this:
Film-making, for us at least, is all about doing what we love and having a blast while we do it. Shouldn’t everything in life be like that?
Oh, and in case you haven’t seen the award winning Of Vice and Men yet, take a chance and go to your first support meeting with me: