filmed with whatever and whomever was on hand during the Quarantine of 2020
In March 2020, my community went into strict lockdown as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. I, and many other artists, creatives and performers, lost work we were excited about and had been financially counting on. May brought back the first tentative steps in theatre and film from a few individuals and companies. I missed doing the work I wanted to do. So, jumping into the deep end of filmmaking with both ignorant feet, I decided to make my own short film.
With a crew made up solely of people for whom this would be their first time working on film, and I only really having significant experience as an actress and scant experience as a producer, we had a lot to figure out. Our equipment was underpar, and we knew it. We decided to shoot everything in less than one full day, and we made it. I hoped it would be a relatable but moving story and a fantastic learning experience. I am satisfied that despite being such a novice attempt, I achieved both those aims.
I could fill pages with the minutiae of what I learned from this process, but here are some broad stokes.
Pre-Production: Organization is key, and this is where I actually brought skills. We saved a ton of time and ran a really efficient set because we had storyboards, call sheet, shot lists, wardrobe, props and locations ready to go. Obviously that was made easier by shooting in my own house–I could take my time throughout the week to prep a room for the angles we wanted to shoot from.
Equipment: Oh how much better it would look if my husband and I had decided to splurge on the camera instead of using an old hand-me-down we had on hand. And the stabilizer we bought…not our best purchase. We scrounged up what we absolutely needed, (thank you Laurie Ellsworth Photography for letting us borrow some bounces and lights and Scott Steele for lending us a boom mic,) but your film can’t be better than your capture and if/when I ever decide to do something like this again, you can bet I’m dropping the cash to get better equipment. And spending some serious time really learning how to use it.
Human Resources: I love working with talented, skilled people in their area of expertise. I also love trying knew things outside of my expertise and giving other people chances to learn as well. Few people are the types to jump at the chance to try something they’ve never done before that will be publicly displayed and may or may not be something they are immediately brilliant at. My crew had no on-set film experience, and I felt like the blind leading the blind. Still, things went smoothly. What I knew and tried to pass on was quickly caught and implemented by Anthony, Desiree, Bryan and Dane. Each of those people have significant talents and their willingness to jump into my impulsive idea of “Let’s make a movie next Saturday” was fantastic. We passed around YouTube tutorials and Google tips all week, and chatted about what we knew, what we didn’t know and how we thought we could figure it out. A lot of skills can be taught in a classroom and through experience, but I do love working with willingness, teachability and a sense of adventure.
On Set: I think my favorite job on set besides craft services is the script supervisor, or maybe the 1st AD. Actually its hard to decide, but a skeleton crew often omits the very people and jobs that can make your post-production editing an easy logistical dream, or make your day on set significantly less stressful. As an actress, you want to look good. As much as I may have wanted a Hair/Makeup Artist, I would have taken a script supervisor or a 1st AD without hesitation. Also, wearing multiple hats on set–actress, producer, writer, editor, associate locations manager, mother, homeowner, craft services–all at the same time was not my favorite way to try to deliver a performance and not something I would recommend for a first time DIY filmmaking experience, if it can possibly be avoided.
Editing: Thank heavens for YouTube tutorials and the free program DaVinci Resolve 16! Also, everything is better with good music and Zach Hansen is awesome. He and I even had a zoom meeting screen share where he talked to me about wet/dry, reverb and more in sound design. I appreciate his willingness to educate me as much as I appreciate his score. Lastly, be careful with the undo function. If you click it and you think nothing happened, so you need to click it again, you’re probably wrong. Something happened.
Liz Christensen LLC presents
Music by Zach Hansen
Editor Liz Christensen
Director of Photography Bryan Christensen
Written and Produced by Liz Christensen
Directed by Anthony Buck
Angie – Liz Christensen
Evan – Ed Farnsworth
Evan’s kids – Katy Farnsworth and Felicity Farnsworth
Lover – Ryan Bruckman
Coach – Michael Johnson
Standard – Cassie Jackman
Coworker – Samantha Millward
Penelope – Abby Christensen
Art Design – Bryan Christensen
Gaffer – Desiree Buck
Sound – Dane Ficklin and Zapsplat.com
Storyboard Artist – Jo Holbrook
Movie Poster – Jordan C. Brun