We made it through the 48 Hour Film Fest weekend. We made a movie! And we got it turned in with 14 minutes to spare. We watched other teams run, only to be turned away after failing to meet the 48 Hour deadline by mere seconds – some ran with their computers in their hands as their movie project finished rendering.
I knew there would be a story from the weekend. I told a co-worker last week, “I look forward to telling you the story, because you know there’ll be one.” She laughed and nodded. I guess I thought the story would be different. I mean, how can you possibly write, cast, shoot and edit a film in 48 hours without something going terribly wrong especially when you have a cast and crew that totaled 19 people? Different people, different temperaments crowded into a small space for a long time – how could there not be a story? There wasn’t. When the card reader broke (the little reader that allows you to take a camera card and plug it into the computer), I thought “there’s the story”. When the associate producer, replacing the card reader, was pulled over by a police officer I thought, “ok, maybe that’s the story.” When the older well coifed white haired woman with her neatly put together summer outfit sauntered onto our porch as we were shooting our last scenes, I didn’t think that was the story.
So of course, that was the story.
When she walked up my sidewalk the Director of Photography (DP) asked, “is that one of your neighbors?” I looked at her; she wasn’t someone I’d ever seen, but we’re those quiet people that stick to themselves and spend too much time indoors. I may have met four of our neighbors in the time we’ve lived here and other than the two right next to me, I couldn’t pick the rest of them out at the grocery store if asked. “Maybe?”
This is where I get a bit fuzzy on the exchange, so know the dialog is what I heard, not necessarily what was said verbatim.
She came up and asked what we were doing. Our DP answered, “We’re making a movie.” She wasn’t very satisfied, then she mentioned cars had been in the cul-de-sac all day and that was a problem. “We’d be glad to move them.” I made a mental note for future films that I should check. Sure, I’d asked people to park on a different street, since cul-de-sacs can be tricky with their lack of curb room, but some cars were sticking out in the street and people were parked between me and the adjacent house. “My son has cerebral palsy and he cannot drive in here easily if there are all these cars!” Again, the DP offered to tell anyone who was in the way to move – that we didn’t realize until then that it was a problem, but we’d be happy to correct it.” She didn’t seem to want that, she wanted to scream at people. That’s when it all blew up.
“What are you doing?!?! I do not understand WHAT you are doing!”
“We’re making a film.”
“That doesn’t make sense. What are you talking about?”
“This is for the 48 Hour Film Festival, so we’re finishing up filming today so we can enter.”
“That doesn’t make sense. I ASKED YOU WHAT YOU ARE DOING!!! What kind of movie. Why do you have children?” (or something to that effect)
“You are welcome to look it up online.”
“You are not answering me!”
Our writer stepped in:
“We were given the genre “Fantasy” and our movie is a narrative film based on that genre where magical children are looking for new homes.”
“This is illegal!”
“No ma’am, it’s not.”
“You shouldn’t be doing things with those children.”
“We have their parents here and they have signed releases allowing them to be in the film.”
“Why do you have children?”
“Again, they’re part of the film. One of their parents is right here.” Steve our sound guy waved.
“You had your garage door open with people popping up and down from boxes. We do not want that kind of thing here!! It’s illegal. I will call the police!!!!!” She was referring to a film shoot we did back in May where we used the space in my garage to shoot one of our writer’s short films – a film about two talking dogs in their bejeweled purses discussing what it was like to be an aging pampered pooch. There was a gigantic green screen behind them that will eventually be transformed into a hotel lobby.
“You may call the police, but we have permission from the owner to film on their property.”
“If the owner knew what you were doing with their property they would not…”
I raised my hand, “I am the owner of this property.” I had been sitting on the bench on our porch trying to stay out of the way of the camera while we filmed. She really hadn’t noticed me until then, since she was completely content to yell at the DP and the writer.
“What you are doing here is illegal.”
“No, it’s actually not.”
“Yes, it is. You cannot do this with the children.”
“We have permission from their parents to film them.”
“The neighborhood does not approve of what you are doing here.”
This went on for awhile until she implied that my husband and I were doing something illicit and creepy in the house. I was FUMING.
“And you have all of these cars.”
“…which as we told you we would be happy to move. We didn’t realize it was a problem.”
“Well it IS! You are blocking…!!!!”
“Again, as we have said, we will have those cars moved.”
The whole time, our actors were coming out of the house to move their cars out of the way – heads down as they hurriedly moved passed the craziness. Also, in truth no one was parked near her house. Now the people across from us were, because they were having a “we better get all of that toilet paper out of the tree” party. So, between the two of us, we had created a bit of an unexpected bottle neck.
She stomped off telling us we’d better not do that kind of thing in her neighborhood again that the neighbors did not approve of us or our activities. In my head, this meant all of the neighbors. She then self-righteously marched to the good neighbor’s house with my neighbor nemesis trailing not far behind her. As the self-appointed spokesperson of them to let them know she had defeated the lascivious child porn purveyors, because that’s basically what it all came down to. She knew we were clearly doing something disgusting with children and she was not having it.
I was shocked. In fact, my feelings were generally hurt. There she was on the driveway with my good neighbors, Bill and Becky, listening to her tale of their disgusting neighbors. We had to move! That was the only solution. This whole circle thought we were filthy. I had to tell Jay. I had to finish a movie. Where were we going to move? While trying to wrap, I was going through all the steps we’d need to go through to sell the house. I like my house, but I’d like the next house and maybe we’d get better neighbors. I couldn’t believe Bill and Becky were turning against me right before my eyes. She attacked my character!
Some background on why this bothered me on many levels; this cul-de-sac troll had managed to find that button – she found my nerve center – she hit my definition of self. I used to tease my mother that she was a priss. In fact, I’d sometimes take her middle name and transform it, calling her Priss-tina. Well, the truth is, I inherited those same genes. I’m prissy. I’m a prude. I’m so uptight I squeak. I’m good at my job in QA, because I believe in rules and following rules. (This does not always apply to speed limits or trying to convince YOU to do something bad.) I like rules for me. They provide a framework. Once I know the rules, I stick to them. Rules define the “is-ness” of things. For the record, so you know what kind of prude I am, I’ve never seen a porn, which makes my friends laugh. I have never used illegal drugs. I’m ok if you have, but that’s not me. I have never been sick from too much alcohol. I am Priss-tina’s daughter – Priss-tina’s uptight legacy. And here was this hateful vile creature telling me that basically the whole neighborhood thought I lived an abhorrent lifestyle and Bill and Becky were listening. She said I’d broken rules.
We had to keep filming. Our DP got us back on track, because we didn’t have time to dwell and properly vent. We only had a few short takes and daylight was burning, but truthfully the whole time I could hear her laughing with Bill and Becky with the evil neighbor standing right there in Bill and Becky’s driveway. I was dying inside and I didn’t get a chance to grieve. The film continued and then mid shot I hear, “Neighbor! Neighbor!” It was Bill calling me over, “my wife was really worried you thought we agreed with that woman and asked me to come over and apologize. I am so sorry. She’s a crazy person.” I told him what she’d accused us of and explained “we’re in the 48 Hour film project. We are just filming the kids; their parents are here.” He waived me off, “I know, she’s just crazy. How did she even know you had kids in there? She’s just sitting around watching you. Crazy.” I added, “I really don’t think we’re bad people. Sure we’re quiet, but we’re not bad people.” He nodded and he said, “if you need to use our driveway for the cars, you just say the word.” I love Bill and Becky.
We finally finished filming.
It was so hard to listen to her craziness, because all of us held back. You could see how enraged the DP was, and how irritated the sound guy and the writer were. Everyone wanted to unload full guns, but here was this ballsy lady yelling at two adult men and two women – this human Chihuahua off her meds. One of the actresses summed it all up so beautifully as she came back from moving her car, “I hate it that she won.” And won she had.
The wife of the sound guy added a bit of levity, “I bet she’s with one of the other teams and she’s trying to throw us off.” That made the rounds and had us all laughing a bit.
Then Topping, our writer, said later when we were inside reliving it all, “Beth, I’m mad for you, because if you’re anything like me, you’re thinking about how this is something you’ve always wanted to do and how finally you have these friends who are helping you achieve that dream, and you’re thinking about completely quitting and definitely never filming in your house. The one where we have the most space.” Yes. I had planned to tell Jay I wasn’t going to film again, because apparently it made me dirty and I’m not a dirty person. (Did I mention she attacked how I define myself?)
I lost sleep that night, despite my husband reassuring me that she was a crazy person and you couldn’t reason with her AND that me being angry had no affect on her. She didn’t know I was angry, but me being angry did affect me.
We were down to our last 12 hours and were helping editing. I’d be lying if I said I had let it all go, but I’d find myself paused, staring at the footage, reliving the event, and thinking of all the things I could have said – to a woman who would never think she was wrong. (You know great things like to her comment of “this is illegal”. “Yeah? Well YOUR FACE is illegal!” My four year old retorts.) Then I declared in my brain, “my Daddy and my friend Anna will beat you up!” So not true, but it’s what you say when you harrumph and realize playing this all out in your brain is silly and that’s the best silly line you can end with.
As for the film – we did finish it. We had to cut a couple of scenes and leave an intro bit out to get it all turned in on time, BUT when we do post it for viewing, everyone will see the full movie. For the record, despite having kids in the movie, it’s all rated G. I know, I know, hard to believe you could have kids in a movie and it still be rated G, but we broke the stereotype. Turns out we’re all more Disney than “Deep Throat”.
I also want to say that I’m proud of the entire team of cast and crew. They all worked incredibly hard and were all awesome. My one job was to pick the right team and I did a solid job. Everyone got along, everyone stayed focused and we made a movie in 48 hours. I’m so proud of all of you and I’m so lucky to know each and every one of you. We made something good, especially considering the time constraints, and we did it despite the suburban troll.
Great job all!