Creating a student film can be a lot of fun as well as a lot of work. This past Spring, I took on the task of creating a short film for a sci-fi production class. We convened a handful of times throughout the semester to discuss requirements, responsibilities, and scheduling. The first class was quite interesting as we all brought in original works to share with each other to get a better idea of what our strengths and interests were. As with most groups of artists, our tastes were eclectic and diverse, however, in this class, we would have to organize ourselves into three groups and work together for a single production. After the first week, the third group dissolved and was absorbed into the two remaining groups.
I enjoy writing but didn’t want to enter the class with any preconceptions and old ideas, I wanted to create something new and fresh. After sharing a short story of mine with the class I decided to get to work on an original piece of writing to submit for consideration, I wanted it to be something fresh and topical. I was inspired by real-life as most of my work is, specifically the words of Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer. After a few drinks in my belly, I got to writing the second chapter of a hopeful novella entitled The Bowling Green Massacre. I chose to write the second chapter as a challenge to force me to fill out the previous chapter and prologue to commit to writing a larger piece of work.
I shared the short story with my classmates and was split between it and another work by a peer, ultimately we chose to pursue my story. I would have to go back and rewrite the chapter in the form of a screenplay to better serve the class. Getting critique and input from group mates was problematic for me and I would much of the writing process solely left to me. Nevertheless, I was also suggested to helm the direction of the production as well. I must say this fed my ego and was happy to take additional responsibility for additional credit. With that responsibility came the duty to organize all elements of production, casting became more of an issue than was expected and a key member of the group dropped out at the last minute after weeks of delays.
Finally, after much negotiation and setbacks, I had secured two lead actors that were at the top of my wish-list for production as well as permission to film at a studio. It was a surprise to me on the day of shooting that I would also be tasked with camera operation, a task I do not feel confident in. Despite this and running on a minimal crew we managed to shoot all that was needed at that location within the limited allotted timeframe. I would then hand over responsibilities to my groupmates to edit the work we had shot with minimal involvement due to scheduling conflicts.
As the deadline approached I was rethinking the final act of the film and reworked my plans for shooting. Luckily I had found someone with the look I had in mind for the third main character and she was available to shoot the following day. Upon very short notice I was able to organize a second location to shoot at and have the assistance of one group-mate. Over the course of one afternoon, I organized props and costumes as well as transportation to and from the set. I was very satisfied with the results of filming and soon saw a rough edit of what the project was turning into and I was very pleased with the work of my editor.
Soon came the date of submission for the UNM student showcase, I was finally able to work with my editor in person. At the eleventh hour, I made a key phone call to the other group in our class and found out they would not be submitting anything to the showcase, allowing us to extend our edit past the five-minute limitation. We scrambled to include the newly shot last scene and create the credits, being able to turn in a copy just at the deadline. The UNM student showcase will be held at Mesa Del Sol 5700B University W Blvd SE 87106 on Cinco De Mayo 2017 from 1pm-3pm.
A final edit of the short film has been commissioned by the professor of the Science Fiction Lab, Nina Fonoroff. An updated and completely new composition by UNM Lecturer Micah J. Hood has been composed and included as well as a definitive edit of selected scenes meant for distribution to upcoming film festivals. Stay tuned for further details.