It was open mic night at the Comedy Club, and nothing was working for the aspiring comedian. He picked up the audience’s disapproval which made him even more nervous. At one point, his gesture contradicted his story, and the audience laughed at the incongruity. As he came off the stage, the manager said “I’m sorry”.
The comic responded “Sorry? Didn’t you hear them? I got a laugh!”
Sometimes, success comes in small doses. As an independent author looking to find a buyer to the screenplay for my novel Love Is Never Past Tense, I find myself in interesting and unexpected places.
On the evening of July 26, over 100 filmmakers converged on the Gateway Film Center for the kickoff to the local 48 Hour Film Project. My team, led by TJ Cooley and Lewis Gordon was one of dozens of film crews that had signed up for this two-day event. At 7.00 PM we were drawing our assignments. By 7.30 PM we were racing out the door. We were one of 48 teams that showed up two days later with a completed film.
My friend Lewis Gordon is an officer of MOFA (Mid-Ohio Film Makers Association). He was part of the writing team for my screenplay, so I encouraged him to enter the contest. I figured that at a minimum it would develop connections to movie people that might help. He agreed if I stepped in as Executive Producer.
The 48 Hour Film Project is a grueling (yet fun) race to write, shoot and deliver a seven-minute film in two days. Teams enter local contests all over the world, drawn in by the line ” What could go wrong?”
Problem one: penciling me in as Executive Producer… What does EP do anyway? High on the list of duties is finding a Director to take on the project, and I had already done that. Lewis sweetened the offer by suggesting that my book be included in the film. With that, we struck a deal.
Every team was given the requirements used to prevent getting a head start.
- Required character – Jordan or Jayla Tillerman, detective.
- Required prop – a sheet or roll of paper towel.
- Required line – “How did you do that?”
Each team drew genre assignments from two lists. Our team drew the genres “Family Film” and “Musical” – we could pick either or combine them. Lewis and his writing/directing/producing partner TJ Cooley spent a sleepless night putting together a screenplay. By 7.00 AM, cast and crew showed up ready to work. That’s when I discovered…
Problem two: I had been written into the script! Do EPs do that? Apparently, sometimes they do!
The work on our Family Film began in earnest. If Family Film and Musical bring up an image of The Sound of Music for you, scratch that and think the Sopranos. Yes, we made a gangster family film!
Problem three: In mid-afternoon, with the clock ticking, a camera failed. Rehearsals and rework went on while another camera was shuttled across town. By early evening, filming was done and the focus shifted elsewhere for editing and production.
Problem four: About 7.00 PM Sunday, I saw a Facebook post of our “delivery” car stopped in traffic. In the end, the car and the film made it to the delivery point on time, along with 47 other contestants. Two weeks later, all of them, including our masterpiece A Kill of Her Own got premier screenings at the theater where the madness began.
Problem five: Although we filmed the book in a couple different places, the angles were
picked to move the action along — the start of my book’s film career ended up on the virtual cutting room floor. You can see the result of our work on YouTube. You won’t want to miss the last few seconds of the film.
A Kill of Her Own is now at the mercy of the judges. If it wins, it goes to the next level of competition and could help us get attention for the Love Is Never Past Tense screenplay. Sometimes success comes in small doses.