This month I had the pleasure of working on a short film with the UCLA Film and Photography Society for the Campus Movie Fest competition 2017. We were given just one weekend to shoot and edit the film before submitting it to the judges, with the hope of reaching the top 4 at UCLA and progressing to the National competition.
I was aware of what CMF was before I worked on our film as I had come across lots of American college students at the Cannes Film Festival last year who were there with their winning films. It was therefore an interesting experience to be involved in the making of a CMF film!
Weeks before we began shooting, I applied to be a member of a production crew for one of the short films produced by FPS, and I was given the position of 1st Assistant Director. Our crew’s film, Wreck, is about a young woman’s struggle with her guilt after she hits and kills a skateboarder on the way to work. I am usually an editor or script supervisor on short films, so it was a refreshing change to be placed in a different role. As we began the process of pre-production, I noted that FPS at UCLA uses a number of systems that make the whole process a whole load more efficient than that of Trinity’s Film Society, and I made note of all the ideas I can bring back to Dublin with me next year! For example, as a means of raising funds for the production budget, each crew member has to pay $10 to work on the film. If there are 40 people working on one film (a lot I know, but that’s what we had!) then immediately the film has a budget of at least $400! I also liked how clearly the job roles were divvied up, along with the correct paperwork that would be completed on a real-life Hollywood production. This gives crew members great experience of what it’s like to work in the real film industry and generally makes the production process as frictionless as possible.
For those who don’t know what a 1st AD does, it was my role to ensure that the production remained ahead of schedule and that everything was as logistically efficient as possible. It was a nice change to not have the burden of creative control for once, and I enjoyed writing up the schedule and seeing it realised over the weekend. Definitely would do again!
Despite a few daylight-related issues, the shoot generally went rather smoothly and we handed the footage over to the editing team on Sunday evening without any issues. It would be weeks until I saw the final product, though!
Meanwhile, I spent the next couple of weeks writing essays and working on group projects for midterms, all of which I think went as well as they could. Internship applications were also a top priority, as I really want to be able to add as many experiences as possible to my CV while I’m here! I had interviews for two companies, Pacific Electric Picture Company and Skydance Media.
Skydance is pretty cool – they make the Mission Impossible Films and are in production for the new Top Gun. Pacific Electric really captured my imagination, however: founded by Ed Helms (Stu from The Hangover!) a few years ago, the company specialises in indie coming-of-age comedies, such as The Way Way Back and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This kind of film is far more up my street than Geostorm or the new Terminator films, and when they offered me a position I accepted! So I will be working there 2 days a week next quarter, as a development intern. This will entail reading lots and lots and lots of scripts, summarising them and analysing their commercial potential. I can’t wait!
On Thursday (16th) we had the Campus Movie Fest red carpet premiere at UCLA, where the college’s top 16 submissions were played. It was great to be reunited with the crew of Wreck after a couple of weeks apart, and we got loads of group pictures together.
The top films were then played (with lots of raffle draws and competitions in between) and then the Jury Awards were presented to the best 4 films and the ones that were going to progress to the National competition and potentially played at Cannes next year…and we made it! Wreck was one of the 4 best films! So that was all very exciting. We had to go up on stage and everything! The other FPS-produced film Run also made it through, so excitement all round.
You can watch Wreck here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mPsC42mG28
While the some of the crew went miles away to someone’s apartment for a party, I went to a ‘Dirty Disney’ themed frat party with my roommates, Yaz and Liz, as I had an internship interview at 8am the next morning and didn’t want to trek all over LA. Yaz was reluctant to go out at first because she had pinkeye (conjunctivitis in English) and wouldn’t be able to wear makeup. She would only come to the party when we convinced her that Captain Jack Sparrow is a Disney character and that she could get away with wearing an eye-patch…
In other news, we had our Theta Presents Date Party – a casual prom-like sorority thing, where each of us new members had to wear all white and invite a date to a big party. We had a great evening, although we sadly missed all the food that was supposedly at the venue. :”””((((
And that’s pretty much my November! This weekend I am spending my first ever Thanksgiving with my friend Carly (also in Theta) and her family in Orange County – I’m very excited!