So, the deal is that you get the prompts for what’s to be included in the short films on Thursday night. You have 72-hours from then onward to write, film and edit the film. When the 30 teams gathered at the Grand that Thursday, I was a nervous wreck. I’d seen several year’s worth of the best of the films and worried about prompts too outlandish or quirky to make sense and I really wanted the piece to be organic, to have the prompts flow naturally and, most importantly, make sense. This year’s prompts assuaged my fears:
- An empty chair
- An invention
- A damaged good
- The line of dialogue: “Is this legal?”
They let us know the films had to be shorter than in year’s past by a whole thirty seconds. Dang! 4:30 isn’t a lot of time and the race was on.
We met as a team at The Spar and brainstormed over Spar fries and a little wine, brain food of the Gods. I felt honesty was key and wanted to keep the locations simple. The story line evolved that night was a sweet tale of friendship based on real-life events of two special people in my life: my eldest daughter and a buddy we made at the Doe Bay Fest last year. These two became fast friends at the festival but, as luck would have it, we both lived in T-town and have been able to connect throughout the year.
Our screen writer, Marcy, magically transformed our ideas into a script overnight. We scored a great location at the Pantages, one I’ve always wanted to use: the sub-basement. It holds the relics of years of productions, many from the defunct Tacoma Actors Guild. It’s a haunting, beautiful place. We spent Friday filming nearly all day and I was convinced we had a keeper by the next afternoon as the first rough cut came into form.
Sunday’s work came quickly into focus: sound, color, titles, refining. We were finished five hours before the deadline, and three seconds short in length. I was happy: would the rest of team like it? We met that night for dinner at our home and a mini-screening. As a filmmaker, it’s a trip to see people watch the work for the first time. Wonderful and terrible, it’s a bit like seeing your kid ride a bike for the first time: your heart bursts with equally with pride and fear for what’s next.
In the end, I think the entire team was really pleased. We can’t wait to share it with the rest of you, so I hope you’ll come on out and support this great event tomorrow. See the above poster for details.
Lastly, I want to offer my sincere thanks to the entire PUNCH team for your amazing work!
Here’s a fun picture of the PUNCH cast and crew (minus our “gal Friday” Kelly and me, behind the camera) at the mini-screening last week:
Boy: Ethan Campbell
Girl: Violet Michener
Man: James Venturini
Director & Editor: Jesse Michener
Screenplay: Marcy Rodenborn
Camera: Jesse Michener & Jesse Lamora
Boom: Jessica Brown
Gal Friday: Kelly Chappie
One last thing: you may have noticed a new moniker gracing the film screen shots. It’s true: Jesse Michener Photography will soon be known as Grit City Pictures. Stay tuned for the re-launch this September!
EDITED TO ADD: the News Tribune did a nice write up on the festival and included some mostly-accurate quotes from me. Yay!
Edited again! Here’s the video.