|About the production:
“Is it possible, using inexpensive modern digital tools, to create a short film that reproduces the look and feel of four very different classic films and shoot it in two weekends entirely inside one house?” That’s the question Jerry Anderson wanted to answer when he began this production.
Many current films are largely created in postproduction after the actors are filmed against blue-screen and are then composited into fanciful realities that only exist in a computer. These productions cost $100 million and more to make. What does this mean for the micro-budget filmmaker?
Has the state of the art progressed to the point that anyone with time, some technical knowledge and an inexpensive camera and software can create the look of movies that just a few years ago would have required huge sets, elaborate models and a massive number of contributors?
Jerry Anderson, the writer/director answers “sort of”.
The decision was made to use a non state-of-the-art DV camera even though inexpensive high definition cameras are starting to become available. The HD cameras are still priced out of the budget of most shoestring productions, especially after you factor in the cost of sufficiently powerful computers and software.
Jerry says, “I wanted to see if I could use very inexpensive equipment and software that almost any struggling filmmaker might afford to own, rent or borrow. I also wanted to keep the production cost under one thousand dollars for actors, crew, food, everything. All of this presupposes some very generous actors and crew, of course.”
Jerry started by creating a digital scale model of the Titanic ocean liner using an inexpensive 3D software package, Truespace, for creating the background plates for the first scenes of the film. This took a couple of months of his spare time.
One of the first issues that came up is that DV is not ideal for blue screen work. Only if the DV camera is very high quality and the blue screen illumination is perfect can you hope to get reasonably clean masks. Postproduction was a struggle with mixed success in hiding the many artifacts of the blue screen filming. It’s “better than most special effects films from the 50s and 60s but not up to current standards such as seen in the latest Star Wars episodes.” Jerry said.
On a more positive note the scenes not requiring blue screen worked very well. With a lot of planning, an organized crew and dedicated cast, it is possible to shoot four to six pages of screenplay in a day without being entirely exhausted and get a very good footage.
In the end, the filming was completed on schedule. The finished film is a lot of fun and everyone involved enjoyed the experience. “That’s a good definition of success,” says Jerry.
About the story:
The idea for this story began with musings on how differently women and men can perceive the same situation. In particular how different their dreams might be, given the same starting point.
Over a couple of years the short script about one shared dream between a husband and wife evolved into a story about a night where several dreams of a new young couple illustrate their doubts and insecurities about their future. Because the film was intended for festival audiences, Jerry decided to make the protagonists film buffs and fill the story with parodied film scenes and references. The famous film quotes fly fast and furious and it’s a fun guessing game for the audience to try to pick them out and identify the sources.
Jerry reports “I wrote the story intending that it not always be clear to the audience what is a dream and what is reality. This mirrors the experience we’ve all had where a dream feels as real as waking life.”
Jerry’s final word is, “The film is just for fun, a tribute to some famous movies and an illustration of how thoroughly films have entered our culture and our thoughts.”