Short Filming

                        Kelsey, Me, and Mike "on the set" of WINGMEN.

These entries were written throughout the four week process of making my first short film, WINGMEN. 

What I learned from the first day of making my first short film:

Your first draft is not necessarily what the finished product will look like. At all. The process of filmmaking is so weird and hard and fun and wonderful. You can’t script that. The best writing happens on-set, in production, and in the moment. The best ideas, revelations, and writing can happen in the blink of an eye, when you’ve been trying to film a scene for twenty minutes and it just isn’t working and then someone suggests something that is INFINITELY better and everything changes. Your plot can be spun on its head while filming. And what I learned from this one night is, you should just let it happen. Obviously, stick to your creative guns where need be, but be open to new ideas, because they just might make your film better. 
Dec. 28, 2014

What I learned from the second day of making my first short film:

Things are going to go wrong. Again. And again. And you just gotta roll with the punches. You need to channel Bill Murray from Groundhog Day. Have a sense of humor about it, maybe sleep with Andie MacDowell, and keep calm and carry on. (The carry on part is more important than the keep calm part.) Batteries are going to die and SD cards are going to stop working and you’re gonna have 8:00 pm runs to Walmart and impromptu pizza. But you’re also going to have great conversations and read throughs and run throughs that turn into great lines that make you all laugh out loud as you’re filming them. And you’re going to mess up and want to kill each other but at the end of the day, if you’ve surrounded yourself with a great group of people who love creating things as much as you do, this experience is only going to bring you closer to them. That’s what it’s done for us anyway. Also, you’re not going to get it all done in one night. [You idiot.] 

At the end of this second day, I’m just so grateful for the group of people I assembled to work on this film. They all bring something unique and valuable to the table. Cole brings ingenuity, leadership, and awesome dance moves; Kelsey brings determination, hilarity, and AWESOMENESS; Mike brings good hugs, deep breaths, and ridiculous jokes, and Sam brings incredible hot beverages and an ever-increasing amount of inappropriate jokes. And I’m just the writer, the one with the idea, the one who was crazy enough to want to give this a try. And I’m so freaking thankful for these people who wanted to help me out. At the end of the day, it helps to try to remember that you’re doing something no one else has ever done. You are making the INSANE decision to MAKE something, and put it out into this crazy world. Even though there’s no reason to expect that any of this will matter in a hundred years, you are still ATTEMPTING TO DO THE THING. And for that, I give you mad props, bro. 
Jan. 2, 2015

What I learned from the third day of making my first short film:

You know how they always say, “third time’s a charm” ? Well, they were right. Whoever “they” are. This was the *miraculous* day on which everything started to line up. The shots on the screen started to look the way they had in my head to begin with. Which I must admit was both thrilling and terrifying. Today I learned that not everyone is needed for every scene, nor is everyone available every day, and it is really quite easy to capitalize on that. Scheduling and organizing is an enormous part of film-making. They don’t really tell you that. Luckily, I grew up in a house where the entire world revolved around a paper calendar on the kitchen counter. Structure is in my blood. Pro-tip: Making a list of the exact shots you want to get on each specific day really helps to keep things organized. When everyone is “on set” (in this case, running around an empty coffee shop), it is so easy to get distracted with espresso and talk of the weekend and forget what shots you even wanted to get to begin with. “Wait, what?” was something that I said many times on the first two nights of shooting. But on this magical third night, I knew exactly what I wanted and exactly how to get it. And I think that’s normal. I think it takes everyone a few tries to figure out what looks right, what works, and what doesn’t. That’s why movies aren’t shot in a week. They take time, and especially energy. And if, at the end of your third night of filming, you go home and almost mistake nail polish remover for contact solution, it means you have done well.
[insert horrible but inspiring sports metaphor here]
Jan. 9th, 2015

What I learned from the fourth (and final) day of making my first short film:

Filmmaking is freaking FUN. And also, things have a way of working out in the end. On this fourth and final day of filming, not very much went wrong. But I was still anxious out of my MIND. I learned that worrying doesn’t help broken signs get fixed, nor does it clean up the mess or do anyone any good. But you know what does help? Dance breaks. Repeated dance breaks in a coffee shop with your best friends in the world? There is nothing better. At the end of the night, I was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. Joy because the shots finally came together. My beautiful, wonderful, talented friends pulled through for me. Gratitude because these people didn’t HAVE to do any of this. I didn’t pay them. They were just there because I wanted them to be. And that is the greatest feeling in the world. To be surrounded by these people who just want to CREATE, and care about this project as much as me, even though they have no reason to, is overwhelming. So if I learned anything about filmmaking in this four week (four days in total) short film adventure, it’s that the people you surround yourself with truly do impact who you are, what you do, and what you create. That can be a good or bad thing, depending on the people. And in this case, it meant only good things, because of my friends. I love you guys. Thanks for sticking with me. I don’t think you’ll ever really know how much your help and support have meant to me. <3

When we finally finished our final shot at the end of the night, I felt triumphant. I think we all did. This four week trial pushed us all to be better in all of our respective jobs on the film, but also pushed us to be better friends, better to each other. I think my favorite thing that came out of this experience wasn't even the film. It was the time spent with my best friends in a really cool place. We became closer, so close that by the end of this fourth and final day, things had regressed into a state of chaos, as the biggest thing on our minds became hitting each other on the butt. It sounds really silly, I know, but I've never had that sort of closeness with friends before.  
Jan. 10th, 2015

What I learned from the two weeks of editing my first short film:

Editing a short film is way different from editing a BookTube video. Since there are so many different shots and takes, it's kind of like putting a puzzle together. A really huge, complex, Game of Thrones level epic puzzle. First you have to decide which shot is best for each part. And if you've done your job right, you have a LOT to choose from. After you've done the heavy lifting of just putting the general shots in, it's time to play with sound. That means reducing background noise, detaching audio in the all-too-common case of unusable audio, and replacing it with quieter, more manageable audio. Then comes the music. What do you want the background music to be? Can you get it from the Internet, or do you need to go all the way to Rochester to record it yourself? For me, it was the latter. But that was probably my second-favorite part of this short film experience. My friend Mike wrote all of the music featured in this film, (aside from The Wombats' song, of course!) and it was so much fun working on it with him- from our initial FaceTime meeting where we went over every inch of the film and decided what should go where, to our time in the studio. He had me sit in the studio with him while he played, so I could tell him exactly what I wanted and we could line it up perfectly with the rough cut of the film. And that was so incredibly cool, because I felt like a real live indie-movie character.

After Mike made the music, it was all up to me. That was the hardest part. I put in a few of the music clips, roughly lined it up, then went to my friend Kelsey for help. I had reached the point where I'd simply looked at it for too long, and didn't know whether it was good, bad, or if I was even on Earth anymore. We had a four hour editing session at her house, in which she really (and there's no other way to put this) went hard. She cut tiny milliseconds off clips, enhanced the audio, and lined the music up perfectly. The little things matter a lot in a project like this. They really add up, and she made sure that they added up to something we could all be proud of. I will stand by this until the end of time: She is the reason this short film is even slightly good. A few days later, I tweaked a few tiny things and uploaded it to YouTube. And that, kids, is the story of How I Met Your Mother.

Just kidding. I'm sleep deprived.

Now I want to shout out each of my friends specifically for their contributions to this project:

Kelsey- As stated above, she did a fair share of editing, but she was also as much of a director/leader as I was. She scored us our set- the coffee shop, and provided the good camera, lens, and positivity.  She recorded many of the shots, and was also IN the film, where she did a pretty awesome job acting. She admittedly messed up a few times, which made for some hilarious behind the scenes footage. (Coming soon!) When I was freaking out on the last night of filming, she kept me calm.

She's my best friend in the world. I'm so glad that she wanted to help me make this, and I can't wait to do the same for her one day soon.

Mike- He showed up when he didn't need to, and even when he had other plans. He recorded some hilarious behind the scenes footage, and...oh yeah, RIGHT! He got me to drive on the highway again. He made amazing, wonderful, beautiful music for this short film, and recorded it at 9:30 on a Sunday night. He spent most of his Christmas break in a little coffee shop, filming a silly thing for my YouTube channel, and he didn't complain once. He provided some of the funniest lines in the film, (lines that I didn't, and couldn't, write) that totally make it what it is. He is the ultimate bro.

Sam- Sam was originally going to be the "Cute guy." But he really didn't want to, so we let him be the barista. He gave me a lot of crap, but also a lot of hot chocolate. I'm so thankful that he was willing to be part of this, because I got to know him a lot better, and he's a pretty awesome guy to know. It's important to note that Sam works at the coffee shop we filmed in, and was kind enough to be there after hours, on the weekends, and on his days off. What a freaking dude.

Laura- If you watch the behind the scenes footage, you'll see my friend Laura. She works with me at the library, and the second I asked if she would help me film, she said yes- no questions asked. She put up with all of us screaming at each other at the top of our lungs, and recorded many of the little moments of behind the scenes fun that I'm so grateful were documented. She was also really helpful when it came to editing, and always responded quickly when I had a life-or-death question relating to the short film. Laura, I'm with you till the end of the line.

Cole- Where Kelsey was perfect at doing exactly what I told her to do, Cole was the exact opposite. I don't mean that he didn't follow instructions. I mean, he didn't need instructions. Cole understood my vision for this film better than anyone else. He came up with quite a few of the shots and lines of dialogue that make this short film exactly what I wanted it to be: funny and cute. He was a great actor and a total trooper, as we had to do many of the shots 3, 4, and 5 times over. He also provided some pretty kick-ass dance moves.

What I'm trying to say is, this short film would be nothing without these amazing people that I'm lucky enough to call my friends. Scratch that, it wouldn't exist. They were my cast, crew, and therapists all in one. This group was the perfect balance of hardworking, funny, innovative, and ridiculous. And I'm just so happy to know them.

Now, I think I've gone on long enough. Thank you for humoring me as I talked in circles about this wonderful experience. If you haven't seen it already, here is the link: WINGMEN

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!