The Great and Terrible Idea: Short Film #3

by Alyssa Hunt

Neurotic Desire is a psychological thriller about a manipulative relationship. This short film is our most anticipated project and tested us as aspiring filmmakers.

SCREENPLAY DEVELOPMENT

Great Ideas and Poor Execution

14

You know that amazing idea that’s sure to trump all previous ideas? That was how I saw Neurotic Desire. With the amount of procrastination and writer’s block it took before I finally had a draft, I thought it had to be a winning script.

After the success of Phyto, I decided to experiment with the concept of an abusive couple, but who the abuser is out of the two remains unclear. I did a brief outline and banged out my draft. It was okay, but it didn’t excite me. I ended up scrapping everything but the title.

I was stuck for days. I couldn’t find inspiration in anything. It was then that Kelanie suggested I watch the 1966 film, Persona directed by Ingmar Bergman. I couldn’t even finish the movie before having to write. For some reason, that movie inspired me and all my creative buttons flipped on at once.

When I had another draft written, Kelanie and I changed a few lines to make it more ambiguous. We had chills when we read the script in its entirety. We felt so in love with the story and the concept. I was extremely proud of my first character driven script.

However, during our rehearsals, I would listen to the line delivery and it didn’t work. Slowly, the excitement and love I had for the script dwindled. It wasn’t my initial vision of the story anymore. Even though I felt there were moments of brilliance, the dull moments overshadowed everything. Finally, the night before filming, I changed the dialogue again.

It wasn’t until after we filmed that I pinpointed the problem. I never read the script out loud to make sure the dialogue flowed. Dialogue is so important. As writers, how can we expect superb acting when you only give rudimentary writing?

PRE-PRODUCTION

Meetings. Rehearsals. Repeat.

2

After the letdown of our first film and the mild success of our second film, we felt like experts on Pre-Production going into our third film. So, we decided to have a bigger crew by adding:

  1. Sound Mixer
  2. Boom Op.
  3. Script Supervisor
  4. Assistant Director
  5. Make-Up Artist
  6. Assistant Camera
  7. Wardrobe

Since we had the goal to submit our film to a festival, we wanted to have papers: contracts, call sheets, logs, etc. Thank you to Film Sourcing for the great templates we started with.

Forms

1. Crew Contract

The first form I made was a standard short film contract. Even though we trust all the members of our crew, we wanted a standard agreement with everyone to avoid any miscommunication of our expectations

2. Call Sheet

The next form was the call sheet. Every production, regardless how small, needs a call sheet. Unless you’re a superhero filmmaker taking on the ‘one-man team’ thing, you need a call sheet.

3. Camera Log

From there came camera logs. Post-production from our last short film Phyto taught us that the editor always needs notes. It will save post production time to know which take was good or bad based off the camera logs.

4. Shot List

For organization and time purposes, never try to wing it. Be prepared with all your shots ahead of time. Then, you might find that you have time left to experiment with shots you didn’t think of before.

5. Lighting Diagram

Don’t explain your vision, show your vision. Get blueprints of your location and draw exactly where you want the lights and leave the form out for your gaffers and grips to access. We recommend the app shot designer.

Meetings

In an attempt to have a connection with our crew, we held a meet and greet. This gave everyone a chance to get to know each other before actually filming. It was a time for the crew to ask any questions about the project and we were able to explain our vision.

The next meeting we had was a business meeting. This is where we signed contracts and went over what to expect for the day of filming. There were also separate meetings with the AD and AC so that they knew exactly what we expected of them.

For our first time doing Pre-Production with an actual crew, everything went rather well.

PRODUCTION

Domino Effect

IMG_5543

Day 1

Estimated Filming Schedule: 12:30pm – 5:00pm

When we arrived on location, only half the crew was there. Everyone else arrived 30 minutes late, delaying setup. From there, make-up was a struggle, hair and costuming wasn’t cooperating, lighting was a pain.

The first scenes we filmed had blood in them. Since this wasn’t our first time working with blood, we thought that it would be easy. WRONG. The blood wasn’t cooperating because we couldn’t get it to flow in a natural way.  We did the take so many times that the red starting staining the actors skin.

We also ran into the problem of line delivery. The two characters in the script were so strong that if the lines weren’t delivered right, everything would be off. We did take after take. Next thing we knew, 5:00pm came and we hadn’t filmed everything on our schedule. In an effort to get the crew out as soon as possible, we rushed the last few shots. Not a good idea.

Day 2

Estimated Filming schedule: 8:00am – 5:00pm

At 8:00am, everyone dragged in. We wanted to avoid running late again so we rushed everyone to get ready to roll by 9:00am.

Day 2 was rather bumpy. Certain scenes had to be filmed over and over. It got to the point where the crew got impatient and shouted out suggestions on how they thought the lines should be delivered. It was like everyone on set was trying to be the director.

If that wasn’t complicated enough, one of the scenes had to be choreographed very precisely, except, we didn’t choreograph it at all. We ended up doing that scene way too many times with no real success. After awhile, we just gave up on getting the perfect shot.

At lunch, everyone laid down and didn’t really talk. It wasn’t the best atmosphere, especially since we had five more hours of shooting.

If that wasn’t enough, after lunch we realized our sound mixer needed to be charged, but whoever used it before us hadn’t put the charger back. We ended up plugging into the camera for sound.

Everything that followed went by in a blur. We wrapped knowing that we didn’t get the coverage we needed and wondering if we could really make 7 more films.

I assumed that having an organized Pre-Production and a larger crew would make things flawless. It was a huge let down. However, this was a lesson that we could only have learned with experience. All we could do was cross our fingers that the final product would turn out okay.

Next Monday we’ll talk about Post-Production

xx

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