Late spring of my third college year, I realized that I was short a graduation-dependent Field Experience. Due to the precious ambiguity of language, the Field Experience could be almost literally anything so long as it involved other people and took a month of my time.
As a would-be professional writer, I needed something that used words. As an easily-bored personality, I wanted creative and fun. Having never before made a movie, I thought it was just the thing.
By sheerest coincidence, I happened to be good friends with a film major outfitted with cameras, computers, and movie-making technology. By dint of edible bribes and pleading he was persuaded to be the main cameraman, provided I wrote the script within a week and confined the overall movie to an hour. He downloaded the scriptwriting software to my laptop, undoubtedly wondering what he had agreed to.
With all the prideful naiveté of a collegian, I had the perfect script in mind. Betrayal, platonic love, shooting, war, sad music! The script was completed with two days of faithfully applied butt-glue, submitted, sent back for trimming, and resubmitted and accepted within the week.
I nearly cried at trimming the scenes. Elaborate and not crucial as they were, they would have been glorious! My friend stood firm on this, as even a simple 10-minute scene can take 30-minutes or more to properly finish. That part we learned the hard way.
More heartache came during the actual shooting as I learned the incredible difference between writing stories and writing a script. Line after line in scene after scene were trimmed to a half or less of their previous substance or cut out entirely.
Finding actors, though, was astonishingly easy. Maybe it was the college culture but merely mentioning ‘movie’ meant interested participants pounced on me. Literally. One friend tackled me and would not let go until I promised her a lead role. The thought of dying on film was evidently irresistible.
Financially speaking we were set. The story was set in the near future so wardrobe was a simply mixing closets. On a day with three separate scenes with the Leading Man, we changed his look sufficiently by having him with only a shirt, shirt with heavy jacket, then shirt with over-shirt. The over-shirt resulted in a long-running joke since it was mine and offered only as a suggestion. He never stopped blushing at the teasing call that he ‘wore girl’s clothes.’
The hardest part of shooting was scheduling when to go out. The most important scenes took place outside and daylight was precious. The leading lady unfortunately had a paying job and couldn’t get off until late afternoon. That caused most of the time extensions. We also had to schedule around her social life, although guilt trips and kidnapping were efficient motivators.
Locations varied. From basements and kitchens to a borrowed office and to the mountains outside of town – we walked, rode, hiked and climbed our way to the most picturesque points. The rich red canyons flowing with spring runoff gave an emotional impact to the key scene.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the film was the many opportunities to use moulage. Fake blood was used almost in the gallons, and more than one actor learned that just because the dye-and-cocoa recipe smells wonderful doesn’t mean it’s good to drink. A more obvious disaster was when the Leading Lady had a drastic haircut with a large scene half-finished. Thankfully a shot of her falling into a deep and frigid puddle made it to the blooper reel.
*Note: This was written by an Associated Content contributor. Sign up here to start publishing your own movie articles.