About a month ago, I mentioned directing a short film. Sometimes plans, as they roll downhill, unravel or disintegrate. Other times they pick up speed and size until you’re running to stay ahead of them and not get flattened.
In this case, I’m happy to report it’s the latter. Happy, of course, being one of medley of emotions that also includes recurrent heart-racing panic and existential dread. For those of us with a certain temperament, this is the price for getting things that we want. As the snowball of happening—and its accompanying panic—gets bigger and bigger, it helps to keep reminding myself “This is something I want.” And it is. For years, I’ve said I’m going to direct something.
Here’s a little background and an up-to-the-moment update on how it’s going.
Back in 2020, Paul and I sent three pitches for a TV show called Creepshow, an anthology series with short episodes that are like Twilight Zone with a horror bent. One was chosen, leaving us with two fairly well outlined ideas. I decided to write out one of these and it became THREE DAYS. I was hoping to use it as a second sample for more opportunities in the horror anthology space — but when those opportunities never manifested and Paul didn’t seem interested in directing it, I started thinking more seriously about taking the plunge I’ve been talking about for so long.
I began to visualize the film taking place in a mostly furnished apartment I have access to. As the industry strikes crept into autumn, a friend with a small film equipment rental mentioned that she would donate equipment. And then in September, an out-of-town friend crashing at our place mentioned coming to LA at the end of October to produce a friend’s music video. Half-joking, I said, “want to produce my short film while you’re at it?” She said, “Sure, I’ll do it.” Her trip in LA became our de-facto shoot dates.
WHERE WE ARE NOW:
For almost any event, once you have dates and a location, it’s “just” a matter of filling in everything else… In five weeks, I’ve gotten more “Sure, I’ll do its” that I could have imagined… from cast members and also a DP we met at a film festival (who insisted on providing an even nicer camera and lighting package than I’d been going to get from my friend). It’s been amazing.
But as we gather more people, I feel more obligated to make my no-frills, “hey, kids, let’s put on a show!” learning experience into a good product for all the people who are being so generous. I want to ensure we make something they can be proud of, put on their sample reels and use to get other work. And I want make it a good experience… I’m terrified of being that friend who you agree to help move, only to show up and realize they aren’t done packing, there’s not enough people to share the work, and not enough boxes! I really want to have my boxes packed and in order.
We shoot in six days. As we get closer, every potential hole looks bigger. The actors are wearing their own clothes and makeup — should I have looked harder for professionals? I’m ordering bedspreads late at night like an addicted home-shopper, and each one that arrives is not quite right. Should I have sprung for a production designer? Production design is production value — what if our minimally furnished location looks shoddy? Our producer knows sound and will set the levels, but she won’t be dedicated to sound. Sound issues are the worst! There’s no assistant director, no script supervisor, no one is dedicated to continuity… am I courting disaster? Have I left myself so many producing worries that I don’t have time to cram all the “directing” prep and learning into my brain? What have I been doing for the last decade? Why have I not spent them watching videos about camera blocking and lenses and taking acting classes? Is this all a big, terrible, expensive mistake????
In my heart, however, I believe it is not. I remind myself that I have so many talented people on board helping me, and so many things that have fallen into place Catastrophizing is a waste of one’s imagination.
This is something I’m happy about. I am grateful. It’s going to be fine…
Here are some images from my amazing volunteer stand-ins who patiently let me work through my storyboards yesterday!