If you would like to view my team’s film before reading the mistakes we made, I posted it here.
First off, I had a great group of people. 24 people total were listed as either cast or crew on our credits, and even more helped in support and location availability. There was an outpouring of kindness that took me completely by surprise and made this film possible in a way that also made it a good experience (most of it anyway).
When I make the following comments, please keep in mind that almost everything that went wrong/mistakes that were made are entirely my fault. My people did exactly what they were asked and directed to do, except in a circumstance of miscommunication.
So. Here’s my somewhat comprehensive list, prepared after receiving feedback from cast, crew, friends, family and total strangers.
1. We pulled the genre Fantasy. And we kept it.
You have the option of pulling a wildcard genre if you don’t like yours, but the wildcards are usually a lot more niche genres than the first genres. The real problem is, audiences in America don’t take fantasy movies seriously, and most won’t even appreciate fantasy unless the budget is incredible. Over here we’re a lot more interested and accepting of Scifi, which makes sense to me in light of American culture, but I don’t have time to analyze it here.
2. We decided who was shooting the film the day we started shooting.
My man Troyer was supposed to be AC, but when our other possible shooters ended up cast as actors, Troyer stepped up to shoot the film. This was his first time shooting as DP, and he did marvelously at following directions and listening to advice. But it would’ve helped him out to know he was shooting the night before, make himself really familiar with the shot list when it was finished late Friday night and have time to give input and plan ahead for some things that went wrong for which we were just not prepared.
3. We thought the script was too long, so we missed out on filming longer scenes that would’ve helped clarify the film.
Our shooting schedule was amazing. We finished filming before 5pm on Saturday, and we had the first half of the day to the editors by about 2pm, assembled in a rough by 5 ish, and then added the rest of the footage, which was roughly assembled by 7pm at the latest. WE HAD TIME TO SHOOT MORE, but I chose not to. Because I was scared that we wouldn’t have time to assemble it all appropriately.
Here’s what we should’ve shot: In the parking lot when it cuts back to the guy in red (Joshua) standing next to Franky, and Alex walks up to see what was wrong, there’s one line and he walks away. This scene should’ve been about 5 or 6 lines longer to show that Joshua was using mind control on Alex. There were a few other things we could’ve done, but this was actually thought of on Saturday night.
4. I called Picture Lock too soon.
I did. I wanted to call it, so I did. I wanted to go to sleep, actually. So after I went through and hacked at the film, I let the editor take over and when he asked if we had picture lock, I said we did. I knew that I wanted to clean up a few things. Why did I do that? Because I partially had a fundamental misunderstanding of what picture lock meant to my editors, and our workflow. The way we set up post with sound editing made it impossible to send the film to sound and then send it back to our editing program and retain the ability to make good cuts.
So on Sunday afternoon things got a bit heated (okay, the most heated I’ve ever gotten on any film set ever, but cut me a little slack, I was low on sleep and my editor was pushing 25 hours straight of being awake) which ended with me re-editing a few things and our post sound guy doing his job all over again. Literally, all over again.
He was a trouper.
5. I let my head get in my way. Er, I set myself up for failure.
And I wasn’t the only one. We all knew–all of us on crew who had done a 48 before–that the time constraints create a lot of stress, split-second decisions and sometimes really bad films. Films are not necessarily meant to be made in that short of a time period. And that’s OK.
But my head told me that if we created anything less than a good film I was failing my team, my husband (he is the reason we actually did this contest this year) and myself.
I’m the writer. I’m the director. I’m in charge. What goes wrong is on me. What goes right is on my team.
If I did my job right, our film should’ve been the best film of the weekend. But it wasn’t. So I was a failure.
And this feeling pervaded me Saturday night, even before I saw the totally finished project. And that feeling stopped me from innovating. We could’ve called Anna (actress who played Franky) and Alex and shot some more. Both of them were more than ready to help out and make the film great.
But I gave up on the film half-way through. I let my head get in the way.
6. I let the failures and mistakes knock me down.
I failed me. And instead of laughing it off, realizing that it happens and moving on, I let it get me down.
Every day this past week was a struggle between asking for feedback and wishing I never had to pick up a camera or a script again. Every day my husband Joshua (yes, the hot guy who got away in the film, that one’s my constant encouragement) tried his best to get me up and over. And every day I wanted to.
But it wasn’t until last night, when nearly everything failed all week leading up to the most epic failure of all, that I realized that it doesn’t matter how many times we fail. It doesn’t matter if I can’t seem to get things right, whether it’s work related or otherwise. It doesn’t matter if I disappoint people sometimes.
That’s gonna happen. It’s inevitable.
But I have a Hope, and I have a lovely partner named Joshua, and I have a family, a team, a community, and a whole stinkin’ horde of individuals who want to see me succeed. And not just me, but my people.
Not because we’re the best (we aren’t, the team that won the contest is hands down some of the most talented filmmakers I’ve ever had the blessing to meet).
Not because we deserve it.
It’s because we love it. And we want everyone else to love it too, whether they be audience, cast or crew.
At the moment we’re the John Hammond of filmmaking. But maybe someday we’ll be Joss Whedon. Or Steven Spielberg. Or Christopher Nolan. Or Joe Wright. Or JJ Abrams. Or Katheryn Bigelow. Or Debra Granik. Or Catherine Hardwicke.