Friday, May 14, 2010

DNI goes Hollywood

Well, not really. But, I did help a couple friends with a short film project that was accepted to the Cannes Film Festival. Yeah, THAT Cannes. While it isn't as amazing as getting a judged feature in, it's still a crazy awesome opportunity, so here I am.

For those interested, the short is called Hushed and is a psychological thriller based around the idea of choice and free will. We used a religious theme, a group of folks going door-to-door witnessing for their unspecified religious sect, but isn't about, or pro, or con, religion. Since shorts are designed to either sell the story or the production group, there are a bunch of decisions you have to make regarding content. You want to show an understanding of the film making process, the business, and the showcase some creative talent. We really did do this in spades. The story is left open at the end, even though you generally have the illusion of thinking you know what it means. The main character remains a blank slate the whole way through, even though most people are sure they could describe him at the end (and these descriptions aren't consistent from person-to-person based on our polling, and people thought they were accurate in their descriptions). Basically, we played on biases heavily.

The religious theme was to create an immediate relationship between viewer and characters - it doesn't matter if you are a bible thumper or Richard Dawkins. You can root for them or against them. In a way, it is a perfect expose on innate bias. If you want to hate the characters and think they're screwed in the end, that's possible. If you love them, but think they got screwed and that the message is confrontational, you can think that. If you love them, and think they work it all out in the end, yup, there's that. The film is a product, and as a product, I think it rocked.

On the downside, we had nowhere near enough time or money to really do what we did. I mean, we did finish, but the timetable was so rushed that we couldn't do many takes of scenes. Shooting conditions, basically, left much to be desired, and a better schedule could have resulted in a better overall film. The result is some amateurish looking bits. But, we got through it. Also, while the actors and actresses did their best, the levels of experience varied greatly. That with the ramped up schedule means they are probably not portrayed as performing at the best of their ability. Awesome folks, though, and they stuck through the whole deal like champs. I know there are some scenes that could have been better, but there was just no time.

So, what did I do? Well, I was one of the 5 writers of the story and screenplay. I helped with a good deal of the technical aspects, was on set for every shoot (except one make up shoot), co-casted the talent, set photography, and basically odds and ends stuff. I was supposed to manage the post-production, but that fell suddenly and at the same time as major lab events began unfolding. Same goes for the website, which I started (the current one is the early alpha version, but unannounced deadlines and ramp up in lab work kept me from moving too far on that. So, I've been a busy beaver.

Check out the movie's site, if you're interested, and if you happen to be in Cannes, France or nearby and want to meet up for cafe', feel free to drop me a line.