Every year, USC hosts a 24 hour film contest called the Ed Wood Film Festival. It sets out to prove that students can make a better film in 24 hours than Ed Wood could in his career. Quality aside, 24 hour filmmaking competitions are a great chance to test run ideas, experiment with special effects, and learn how much coffee it takes to pull a productive all-nighter. (Answer: four cups MINIMUM.)
This year, I worked with Jen Enfield-Kane, Conner Sorensen, Bryce Sorensen, and Rahne Avant to create a film called TRIGGER about a schizophrenic facing his past. Bryce was our DP and also did spectacular special effects makeup on Rahne — you can see her in full burn makeup below. We also had other advanced special effects that were difficult to pull off but we managed to fit everything into twenty four hours.
The contest began at 3pm on Saturday, and it took Jen, Conner and I five hours to write the script, assemble the props, and fuel up with coffee and burritos. The prompt was “In the Heat of the Moment” and the prop was “hot dog” — how we got the subject matter of schizophrenia, adultery, and murder out of that is indicative of our genre preferences.
I’ve been wanting to co-write something with Jen since forever — we’re both screenwriting majors here at USC and we love the same kinds of stories. She’s also creating her own web series, The Paranormal Enthusiasts Club, which is a paranormal comedy that’s going to run an ambitious 10 or 11 episodes. She co-directed the project as well.
Conner’s starring in my web series Antidote 15, and he helped write and co-direct as well as act in this project. He’s got an eye for details and always brings dimensions to the different characters he plays.
Bryce was our DP and did brilliant work with framing interesting shots, and he also managed to do full burn makeup on Rahne in under 45 minutes.
Rahne is a trooper: not only was she game for full burn makeup and blood effects, but she also gave a chilling performance and really dug into the role. I’ve worked with Rahne before (on a short film called Intruder and an interactive film called The Unholy Five) and she’s a strong dramatic actress.
We filmed at three locations: an apartment complex’s shared kitchen, by a pool, and at Venice Beach. There was a ton of rolling fog which actually showed up on camera, giving the whole film a very surreal look.
By the time we got to Venice (around 6am) we were running waaaaay behind schedule. We were shooting a running montage with three symbolic images. One of those images we needed was a man lighting a cigarette. We didn’t have anyone, so we asked this guy we met on the beach. Not only was he up for it, but he also showed us a cool trick where he could throw frisbees and catch them while riding his bike. It was one of the highlights of our shoot.
We also befriended as security guard named Michael who was gracious enough to let us film inside the (supposedly closed) shared apartment complex game room/kitchen thing we needed for the pivotal dialog scene.
In the end, our film turned out really well, especially considering the time crunch we were under. Our entire cast and crew made the all-nighter fly by with humor and talent and coffee, and I’m lucky to be able to work with such awesome people on insane projects such as this.
We’re going to do another cut of the film and take more time on editing, but once it’s done, I’ll post it here so check back!