My big screen debut!
Well not technically. Technically, my big screen debut was in “House of the Generals” which debuted at a theatre in Dallas, and I couldn’t make it. However, my first big screen debut that I’ve seen was tonight a the Alamo Drafthouse in Downtown Austin. It was the first screening of half of the entries in the 48 hour film contest. As you may have previously read, the way it works is that Friday night at 7:00 all the teams drew a genre, and then had 48 hours to write, film, edit, score, etc. their film. We drew film noir. Every film also had to have the following:
Character: Jordan Moonie, professional skateboarder
Line: “Excuse me, I think I love you”
In case anyone cares, beware spoilers for our short film “Dead Stock” below.
Friday night, the writers wrote the script. Saturday morning filming began. I wasn’t needed until about noon supposedly. I was later told that they wouldn’t be at the second location until about 2:00. So around 2:00 I went to the location (a dry cleaners) and they started to film scenes there. We got to my scene about midnight, and I wrapped up filming around 2:30 a.m. I played the small, but fun and pivotal role of Drake Manford, uber successful pro skater nearing the end of his career who is fabulously rich and successful, but whose wife convinces my former prot�g�, Jordan Moonie, that I’m the one who attacked him and shattered his knee with a brick, because I was jealous that he started to do better than me. She also convinces him that she’s in love with him, and that I beat her, so he agrees to kill me. In the end she kills me, frames him, and then trips on a brick and falls unconscious on a train track as a train approaches.
The contest itself was also full of drama. At one point the editor called and told us the tape we had run to him was blank. Nothing on it. Turned out we had sent the wrong tape, so whew! Later however the actual tape we finally got him had glitches (it had jammed in the camera) and was unusable. This was about 2:00 a.m. and that meant they would have to re-shoot 2 scenes, one of which included an actor who had long since gone home. They shot everything except for that one scene, hoping to get it first thing Sunday, and wrapped around 5:00 a.m. The next morning, they still hadn’t heard from the actor, so the director stepped into the role, and did great. At some point the editor had told them another tape was totally blank. eventually the problem was figured out, and they got the tape working, and I believe, in fact, also figured out that they could have used the other “bad” tape too, but at this point they had already re-shot. The deadline was 7:30 p.m. at Mother Egan’s Irish Pub, and at 7:20 they were in the car still editing with a lap top while speeding to the finish. We were literally the last film submitted right at the 7:30.
Tonight, we went to watch the showing of the “group A” films which included ours. It was amazing. In everyone’s opinion who I talked to, our film was in a complete other league from the vast majority. Every film played looked very much like an amateur film shot on somebody’s home video camera, and all but the first one were generally bad all around. Acting, writing, etc. When ours came on, it really looked like a real movie. Moody lighting, good acting, nice script, good score, editing, etc. It was just tremendous.
There was only one film after ours. Unfortunately it was the absolute hands down best of them all. It looked, and sounded 100% professional. All the elements were just jaw dropping good quality from the look and sound of it, to all the things I mentioned about our film, and even the credits. There was just no denying the big dog. I have to think the order of the films was no coincidence. Just as seeing our film after all the rest made me smile hugely, seeing the one after ours took some wind out of the sails a bit.
All in all though, I am ecstatic with it. The team was amazing, the writers took a very brave choice of doing a straight dramatic film noir instead of going to more audience friendly comedy route, and we delivered and incredible piece of good looking cinema that was just miles beyond everything except the last film. Hopefully someone will put it online at some point. Now I just hope there wasn’t anything to incredibly good in the “B” group of films which we didn’t stay for since we would have had to buy separate tickets to it. Tomorrow I’ll be talking to some of the guys who stayed for the second group to find out.