In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Monday, April 14, 2008

24. Part Two.

So, the Film Race happened last weekend. What a learning experience! It was really tough; they don’t call it a challenge for nothing. Here’s how the twenty-four hours played out.

10:00pm – The challenge starts. All teams are emailed the theme and prop/action they are required to use in their short. The plan is that Mike (our director) and Darrin (our DP and editor) will start throwing ideas around and I’ll show up at midnight and come in with a fresh perspective.
10:45pm – I leave my house to meet up with them at Mike’s place in Scarborough (or Scarberia as I like to call it).
12:15am – I arrive at Mike’s. They tell me the theme is ‘fake’. To which I say, “What? That’s pretty vague.” The prop is ‘chopsticks’. Mike and Darrin have an idea in the works that is really ambitious. It involves two storylines, but we can’t find a good way to intersect them at the end.
2:15am – We finally decide to scrap what we have and start from scratch. Four hours wasted. Not a good start.
3:00am – Finally, someone comes up with that ‘nugget’, from which something usable can spring.
4:00am - Darrin and I have spent the last hour banging out a half page of bullet points that make up the skeleton of the short. He’s leaving now because he has to pick up the actors in the morning. Mike has gone to sleep because he – paying the price of being a father to an infant - has had none in the last thirty-six hours. That leaves me, who fortunately took a nap before I came, to bang out a script.
5:15am – I have a six-page script printed out in front of me. That’s too long for a three and a half minute short, but I’m sure some will be cut once we’re on set. Right now, it’s time for some sleep.
7:55am – I am woken by Mike’s door buzzer. Jeff (our F/X guy) has arrived.
8:30am – Berge (our producer) arrives.
10:30am – We are at our location, a loft apartment in West Toronto. The four of us meet up with Darrin who arrives with Melissa and Mike H (our actors). The location is great with tons of space to move around and lots of natural light.
10:55am – The fire alarm in the building goes off. Are you kidding me?! The fire trucks come and we find out it was a false alarm on the first floor. This costs us about thirty minutes.
12:35pm – Our first shot is in the can. Less than twelve hours left!
1:30pm – Onto Page 2 of the script.
1:45pm – Melissa points out an error in continuity that sets us back a bit. Oops!
2:45pm – So incredibly behind schedule! Mike H. and Melissa are doing an incredible job, especially since I shoved the script into their hands less than two hours before they were in front of the camera.
3:00pm – Up until this point we were shooting in sequence, but Jeff has to be gone by five, so we set up our one F/X shot before he has to leave.
3:30pm – An F/X “malfunction” sets us back further still.
4:00pm – I leave to perform an errand. I drive to College and Spadina to pick up a hard drive we’ll need for editing. I can only hope that most of the remaining three pages is shot by the time I return.
5:00pm – I’m back at the loft. Thankfully, there are only a few shots left. Melissa has to be at work for quarter after six, so we are wrapping soon, done or not.
5:45pm – Shooting is done! Mike and Darrin go on ahead, while Berge and I stay behind to clean up.
7:15pm – I arrive back at HQ (Mike’s place). Fucking Toronto traffic! If there was one lesson (even though there were many) to be learned here, it’s don’t have your HQ in Scarberia!
7:50pm – The footage capturing process is finished. The editing process can begin. To avoid the too many cooks problem, Mike, Berge and I retire to another room while Darrin compiles a rough cut.
8:30pm – Darrin is still editing. Things are not looking good. Once we have it done, it will take up to fifteen minutes to burn to a DVD and the drop off point is AT LEAST twenty minutes away.
9:30pm – Darrin is a magician with a Mac! He has a rough cut finished in just over ninety minutes. There are few tweaks that need to be done, but we have no time.
9:45pm – We have the first cut on a DVD, but the window of opportunity on the 10pm deadline has closed. But, there is a second deadline at 11pm. If we can get it in by then it will still screen with the rest of the films on Wednesday. Mike and Darrin perform the necessary tweaks. I agree that putting in a superior product late is better than a lesser product on time, but the prospect of either diminishes by the moment.
10:15pm – The second cut is still not done. Berge and I go on ahead to the drop off point with the first cut to make sure we have something to hand in for 11pm. We are the failsafe.
10:45pm – I go inside the Duke of York pub (the drop off point) and introduce myself to the organizers. I ask them how many submissions they received. They tell me twenty-eight.
10:55pm – Berge and I are standing outside the Duke of York. I’m talking to Mike on the phone. They are right behind us with the final cut!
11:00pm(+/-) – I am standing at the organizer's table when Mike bursts through the door with the final cut. The four of us celebrate outside. We’d love to stay and have a beer, but bed ways is right ways now. They’ll be plenty of time for cocktails after the screening on Wednesday.
12:00am – We’re back at Mike’s. He burns another copy of the final cut and we watch it about five times in a row. He’s right; it’s way better than the first cut. It’s something to be really proud of I think. And it’s my first writing credit. EPIC!
1:30am – BED! WHAT A DAY!! I can’t wait for Wednesday night!

The fact we missed the first deadline is a little heartbreaking, but we’re all happy with the final product and that’s all that is really important. There are a lot of woulda-coulda-shoulda’s that may have changed our fate, but we can take all this earned wisdom and apply it to our next project. This was a great creative experiment and a fantastic way to spend a weekend.

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