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Saturday, April 28, 2012

On Making a Short Film (by Kevin T McCarthy)


A few years ago, my friend, Amy Honey, and I made a short film. Both of us quickly decided that we wanted to do something light and funny. The majority of our jobs and auditions were usually dramas. So comedy it was. At least our version of it anyway. The Return of Laura Peters.

To begin with, neither of us had ever made a short film before. We were both stage actors. I can build a set, hang lights, paint scenery, all the things one needs to do in theatre. But making a film? That was a different beast. However, Amy’s boyfriend (now husband and my good friend Ryan Honey) had produced films before. He had a great understanding of what needed to be done for our endeavor. Of course he’d do it.

The phone calls quickly went out. We needed a DP? Yes a DP. What’s a DP? Director of Photography. Of course. Is he available? Not that weekend. Ok how about this one? And on and on it went. We needed to gather a large team of people with very unique skills. Oh, and there was one huge caveat. Our low budget film was just that: LOW BUDGET. So basically we were trying to convince working professionals to give up their hard-earned weekend by coming and making a short film with us for no money. Tough sell.

So we gathered our film team for what turned out to be the start of a very long and hot weekend. Principle photography began. It was exhilarating to say the least. The vision in our heads was coming to life. After months of working the concept and writing the script, pre-production, it was really happening. We were officially filming.

We had two days to shoot everything we needed. The schedule was grueling. During the morning of day 1, we began having trouble with our camera. We were shooting on actual film. So this was going to be a problem. However, one of our grips stepped up saying he had the same camera at his house, but it would take about 2 1/2 hours for him to get there and come back. We decided to do it, even though it would slow us down for a while. But having two cameras running would allow us to pick up coverage faster down the road. We were really fortunate not to have to run around town on a Saturday morning trying to rent a Super 16. Besides, it really wasn’t in the budget anyway.

We ended up running rather late on the first night of shooting due to our camera issues. But I’ve always found a simple rule to keeping people happy while making a movie. Food. Feed your people well. Always have snacks. As an actor, I’ve worked on a few very low budget films. Many times there was no pay. Some feed us well, others not so much. So feed your peeps, and feed them well. Everyone will be more pleasant not matter how late it gets.

The film ran in the festival circuit. No, not Sundance or any of those you’ve probably heard of. Amy and I just wanted to get the film out there for people to see and enjoy. When we received nominations at a few festivals, we both found it highly amusing. It was never our goal, but I’m glad it happened. It helped validate all the hard work and time people dedicating to it.

Amy and I were so grateful (and still are) to everyone who worked tirelessly to make our vision come to life. It still is one of my proudest pieces. And not just because of film itself, but because of how lucky I am to know so many wonderful people.

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