We started this with nothing. Just seven passionate and committed actors and a process. That was back in January 2018. By the end of May, we had a first draft of the feature-length screenplay. Then we gave feedback and wrote a quick second draft. In June we began rehearsals of the scripted scenes. These began with table reads and discussion about the emotional arc of each scene reflected in each character. It was cool to see you could play the scene from any number of emotional points of view and none of them would be wrong. It was just about choosing which one, which is really to say, what story do you want to tell? The words on the page are only 25% of “the story.” The real story plays out on the emotional plane of the characters – how they feel and how they react and how big or small that will be. I really got the feeling at this stage that the film was just starting to be made. In contrast to the notion that once you have the screenplay, you have your blueprint and really, all that’s left is to film. Not so. I see the screenplay now as not a blueprint, but rather a nearly blank stage where the actors and director can go to work and make the BIG choices that will carry ALL of the drama that engages the audience.
I chose four scenes to shoot as sample scenes. Without those, I felt it would be almost impossible to give people a sense of the tone, style, and dramatic flavor … not something you can get a clear picture of when reading a screenplay. I also wanted to show off the actor’s performance. To show how believable, interesting, and engaging they are!
Now for some important DISCLAIMERS! We shot all of these scenes with zero money. No lighting or grip equipment – ok we did use a single bounce card. Here’s a picture which shows our entire crew and all of the equipment we used! Camera, sound, bounce card – that’s it! The only person not in the picture who was there is me.
More disclaimers. The music is just temp/stock music, not the real deal. There’s no sound edit on these scenes, so you’ll hear noise here and there. No colour grading, which when it gets done will provide a pleasing consistency to the image (stay tuned!). Ok, so watch all of that in mind which is to say, enjoy the performances and characters and know that when it comes to shooting these scenes for real, we’ll actually have all the right tech. Still, I think it’s pretty cool what you can do with just raw image and sound.
Scene 36 is Jamal and Kate walking home after getting some groceries. The actors are Ali Kazmi and Emily Menary. When I was looking for editors I posted the footage on Facebook, allowing picture editors to download it and “audition” for the editing job. To date, I’ve seen six cuts of this scene. The actors are so “on” that editors could really choose what angles they wanted, rather than piece together a performance. Cut anywhere, it’s all good!
Scene 41 is Diane and Joseph played by Soli Joy and Matthew Olivier. The context of this scene is that Joseph has previously come to look at a room for rent from Diane, but clearly can’t afford it.
Scene 50 is Diane and her 18-year-old daughter, Sam. Sam is played by Samantha McBride. The context is that Kate has decided to move back into the house (See Sc.36 above where Kate mentions this) and Sam is really not happy about; she and Kate do not get along. Diane is Kate’s stepmom.
Scene 60 is Jamal and James. James is played by Tom Shearman. Jamal has just found out that he didn’t make the cut to get into his choice of University.
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