‘Grad Night,’ or, How I Made a Movie


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“Part of filmmaking is always a guessing game, and part of it is always a game of trust.” – Greg Kinner

SALUTATIONS NERDS!

I have managed to escape the damp, cold, and dimly lit dungeon that is my editing bay to gleefully show you what has taken me away from the mic and my beloved co-hosts.

As many of you know, I was presented with the opportunity to direct one of my original short films for a local high school’s film festival. For anyone who knows me, you know that this is not the first time that I was given this chance. My wrap sheet reads as follows:

  • 2007: A Cheaters Guide to Coming Clean (see a trailer for the film that never happened at our ‘Video’s page!). Cause of Death: Ending was re-written on the fly and ultimately given up during post production.
  • 2008: Brain-Freeze. A heartwarming tale of a young man proposing to his girlfriend in the most unromantic place imaginable…A DINER!!! Cause of Death: Slowly removed from everyone’s consciousness by the horrible witch we call life.
  • 2009-2010: H.O.P.E / Through the Looking Glass / The Man Behind the Curtain – A West Valley Film ProductionCause of Death: This project was diagnosed with cancer, and given three months to live. It exceeded expectations and then ultimately lost the battle.

Quite honestly, after three failed attempts I was starting to feel like I couldn’t do this any more. Yes, that’s right; an actor/creative mind had a moment of self-doubt and likely self-loathing. Shocking, I know.

Being of a creative mind, I started to feel this urge to write, and after watching many episodes of the syndicated hit How I Met Your Mother and a re-watching Kevin Smith flicks, I came up with this idea that really struck a chord with me. What if I did a 90s teen comedy in the present day!? Does that sound ridiculous? Don’t care, loyal readers! I’ve already gone and filmed it!

You see movies like Can’t Hardly Wait, Clerks, 10 Things I Hate About You, Empire Records, etc deep down at their core had a message about angst, unrequited love, and young teens at a crossroad in their lives. For some reason those movies always spoke to me. Maybe I was a pretentious little ten year old, or maybe I was just that demographic. Whatever the reason these movies have wholly influenced me.

So as a we flash forward from my childhood to 2012, I’m at my laptop and I find myself just spewing off these ideas that I had when I was in high school, regurgitating all the conversations that I had with my friends as we pontificated about graduation day, and what that meant to us. I was finally writing the 90s movie that was always in my heart (even though I graduated in the early 2000s…just go with it).

Once the writing was done – and it took many edits as the original script was R rated I needed to cut it down to a PG-13 as not to upset the delicate sensibilities of high school parents – it became a matter of casting it and filming it, which in previous experiences was the uphill battle and ultimately the killer of my projects.

With the moths and butterflies having a battle royal in my stomach, I cautiously created shot lists, meticulously looked at the script and tried to imagine in my head how I was going to achieve what this scene was about, or how I would get the kids to emote the way I would need them to. Would they respond? Would I like what they gave me? I did audition them, yes. Yet what if they were just having a good day and really every other day they sucked the big one!? Lots of pressure and short amounts of time.

The day finally approached to shoot the first scene, with my throat closing up and sweat running down my face, I saw the kids for the first time since the table read, still frightened of past experiences, like a man afraid to date cause the previous girlfriends had left me for stronger men. I called action for the first time and got…exactly what I wanted.

All this worry, anxiousness, and doubt washed away as we filmed a short dream sequence (did he say dream sequence!? Oh spoilers!!!) and it was smooth. The kids were receptive and brought a lot to the table. They made me laugh appropriately and smile when I saw the shot I had in my head, not more than six months prior, in my office one dark Tuesday night. I couldn’t believe it! I was actually make a short that I knew would be seen by those around me, and it was going to be wonderful.

So a month later, here we are. Editing has begun:

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 5 hrs of editing = 3 mins of film…

The place where the magic really happens: where we take the shots that may not have looked crystal clear, give them a spit shine and throw some music behind it and you have a brand new Crystal Flute ready to consume your champagne.

I am beyond proud of my little cast, as they gave me wonderful moments and scene stealing jokes. They were tenacious, determined, and willing to go that extra mile. I would work with any of them again on any project. I cannot wait to show this film to my family, friends, and most importantly to YOU, nerds!

So come April 19th, right here on www.nerdonomy.com, you can be one of the first to view my short film (first one ever seen publicly that is) Grad Night.

Until next time…

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