Note to Self: Check the Time

So Friday night, Dave Colan, Lance Hoffman and I headed over to Atomix Coffeeshop to pick up our Fast Forward Film Festival suggestion. This FFFF the suggestions were provided by Found Magazine, so every team got a color photocopy of two found photographs. Our team, Team #17, got a picture of a bearded man posing for a portrait and a polaroid of a Jack Daniel's bottle on top of a red car.

After an hour and a half of brain-storming, we decided that Dave looked enough like the man in the picture that he would play our hero -- Matt McGillicutty, Man of Action -- and that we would be making an entire cop movie in three minutes. And Lance had made the mistake of revealing that he could play the saxophone, so we knew we'd stick that in somewhere. We made a few phone calls to try to line up extra actors, of which only Andrea Swanson answered her phone, and set up a filming time of 8 in the morning. I went home, set my camera to recharge the battery and went to sleep.

Saturday morning, I woke Shaun up at 7:50. As much as I complain about Shaun, I love that I can wake him up after a late night of drinking, say "we're making a movie in 10 minutes and you're the villian" and know that he'll just say, as he did, "OK, I'll take a quick shower -- what do you need me to wear?"

Lance, Dave, and Andrea all showed up on time and we began to work out the choreography. I had decided that a) because of the tight schedule, I didn't want to do any editing and b) it would coolest if the whole cop movie took place in 3 real minutes (and in the 20 yards from my front hallway to the back gate of our parking lot) so I wanted to do the whole thing in one continuous shot. Because Lance was our only extra actor, he had to play the other 3 characters (plus himself with his sax), so we worked out all the moves to let him get off camera and change costumes.

We did a take for practice, without using any of our "special effects" and tried a take for real. We got all the way to the last thirty seconds of the take and my landlord drove up to the back gate, ruining the shot. We did another take where I accidently got Lance changing costumes on camera, and then finally a good take. And then we did one more for good measure. And it was wonderful.

And it was 9:30 and Andrea and Dave both had to leave to go to rehearsals. We didn't watch the tape (experienced film makers will recognize the ominous sounds of foreshadowing music playing in the background here) because there wasn't time to do another take anyway, and it was so cold we didn't want to go outside anymore, and from what I had seen through the viewfinder, the take was perfect.

I dropped those two off at their rehearsals and then Lance and I went looking for somewhere to record his sax solo for the film. All the theaters I have access to were being used, so I called Don Hall because he's a trumpet player and smart. He suggested that for a wind instrument, we just record in a bathroom for it's concert hall-like reverb. So we ended up back at my place.

Lance wanted to watch the tape to see how long to make the solo. And the take was great. But it was 4 minutes long. FFFF films are supposed to be 3 minutes or less. Crap.

But there was nothing I could do. There was no time before the 5 pm deadline that all 5 people could meet up again. So I recorded Lance's sax solos and sat down to edit the film down to 3 minutes.

By chopping out a bunch of walking-from-point-a-to-b, and removing Lance's on-screen sax part altogether, and without any sort of title or credits, I was able to get it down to 3 minutes exactly. It was a shame, because with editing Lance's quick changes weren't as funny anymore, but we didn't know how strict they were about time, and I didn't want my first FFFF to get summarily ejected for going over time. Shaun drove the tape down to Atomix just before the deadline.

A few hours later, Shaun and I went over to Collaboraction's space for the FFFF showing. It was supposed to start at 8, and Sean U'Ren had even made a announcement at the suggestion-giving that the showing would start at 8:00 or 8:15. The first film was shown at 8:50. I'm not complaining, I'm just, you know, complaining. Because of the delay, and our 9:45 call time for The Neutrino Project, we were only to see the first 4 teams' films. So we have no idea how the edited film was received. We showed the uncut 4 minute version as an opening short at The Neutrino Project, and people loved that one, so I hope people liked the edited version.

Oh, and one of those 4 films was 3 and a half minutes long. So maybe we could have gotten away with an extra minute. Oh well.

I'm going to see about getting the short up on iFilm or somesuch. If anyone has any suggestions of their favorite internet short-film posting sites, let me know.