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OK, I think I'll spend a little time and talk about each of my films. Because my website has limits to what I can do with it, I think that this blog is a better place for this kind of thing.
I was taking a DV class from Joni Varner at Los Angeles City College in the spring of 2003. We had two film projects to do, one no longer than 3 minutes and the second no longer than 5 minutes. Even though the only equipment we got was a 1 chip mini dv camera, I wanted to do a film with dialogue. I thought that it would be good practice.
I wrote a short script based loosely on my leaving a boyfriend who was verbally and emotionally abusive. But the film wasn't so much about a relationship with an abusive partner as it was about the relationship with the mother. I liked the mother of this guy I left, but I felt it wasn't my place to say anything about her son, no matter how twisted his behavior was towards me. So I didn't feel able to really say "goodbye" to her because I couldn't tell her why I left her son so suddenly.
I always wondered if the mother of my ex really knew why I left. That's what inspired me to come up with the story for this film. The first part of the film, where Wendy, girlfriend, gathers up the guts to move out as soon as her boyfriend is based on a real event. The second part, with Marion, the mother showing up at the door with a plate of brownies is the fantasy. What would Wendy say to Marion as she catches her leaving with her suitcase?
I cast Emily Brooke Hands to play Wendy, Matias Coo to play the boyfriend, Luke, and Roxanne Barker as the mother. The previous semester I had cast Emily and Matias to be in a scene for my directing class. Most of the class really liked them and thought they worked well together. Now I don't cast people just because I worked with them before, but as I wrote the script, I thought that Emily would be perfect for Wendy and that Matias could play against her as the bad guy. Now, Matias is actually a really nice guy. He is really one of the most easy going actors I've worked with. But I thought he might have it in him to be a little bad as well as display the characteristics that made Luke likable to begin with. I think you can't portray an abusive person all one note, even in a short film. You have to see that there was something about the character that gave him the ability to draw people in.
I auditioned several women for Marion. I auditioned a lot of talented women for the part but Roxanne Barker had the quality I was looking for. The funny thing is, I don't remember if I had even auditioned her. She was in my classmate's, Catherine C. Pirotta's film and when I watched her in it, I realized that was what I wanted for Marion. Catherine gave me her number and well, that's how I got my third cast member.
Thomas Davis and Jeremy helped me film this movie. We filmed it in one day, although we did call Roxanne back to re-shoot her scenes the next weekend because we wanted to get better light on her face. I edited the film down to 3 minutes so I wouldn't get points taken off. But it was a little too choppy in some parts.
The class really liked the film, more than I had expected. Many gave high praise to Emily's performance. My teacher, Joni, gave me an A but suggested that I might do a little re-editing if I wanted to do anything with the film. Well, I hadn't thought that I could do anything with it (as far as festivals were concerned), but several months later, after I bought my own G5 and Final Cut Pro software, I did re-edit. I made the beginning flow better and allowed a little more time for the whole thing to breathe. Now that I wasn't under the 3 minute constraint, I also slowed down the end credits so that people could read them. This brought the film to 4 minutes, exactly.
The film also needed music. I had Jeremy do the score. I said I wanted something that indicated a hard time but that also had hope in it. I didn't want "oh poor me" music. He came up with exactly what I was looking for. He then recorded himself playing it on guitar and then gave it to our friend, Robert Baker Shaw to play on piano. Robert added a lot of his own thing to piano part. The song actually goes on much longer -- I wish you could hear it all! But of course I couldn't take more than 4 minutes of it. I'm really happy with how the music and film came together so well.
Now, I knew that LIKE HIS FATHER would not make it into any big festivals. It didn't look or sound professional. The sound, in particular was just bad. That's what you get for using the microphone in camera. Jeremy did his best to clean it up and adjust the levels, but there's only so much you can do.
But, it still made it into a few: 2005 Route 66 Film Festival, 2005 Fiery Film Festival and the 2006 Marblehead Festival of Arts film festival. The funny thing is, I had submitted four films to Marblehead, and they accepted two. I really didn't expect them to take LIKE HIS FATHER, but they said that it really grabbed them.
I have no future plans for this film. I think it's done as much as it's going to do. It did more than I thought it would do. Thank you, little film. And thank you Emily, Matias, Roxanne, Jeremy, Thomas and Robert!
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