I've finally had the right opportunity to make use of my Canon 5D Mark III camera for cinematography purposes. Since I've been attending the Filmmaker Fusion networking and education monthly events sponsored by IFP Phoenix, I became aware of the Beat the Clock Challenge set to take place on the weekend of July 12-14. As a result, I helped make the short film, Escape from Zany's Baking Company.
Escape from Zany's Baking Company is, of course, a parody of the Kitchen Nightmares episode about Scottsdale-based Amy's Baking Company. Shawn initially came up with the idea to do a parody of the show and I expanded on it for the contest, though the original episode is hysterical enough. As a side note, I ate at the restaurant several years ago, and, at the time, found the food to be tasty. I did, however, also note the eccentricity of the owners.
Joining forces with Shawn Esplin and Aymi Andrews definitely motivated me to participate in the Beat the Clock Challenge, a 48 hour film challenge. I really enjoyed working with them. Our team, Studio Gaijin, had from Friday night on the 12th until Sunday night on the 14th to finish a 3-5 minute short film. We also had to work with the following parameters:
- A choice of one of two genres. We had to choose from Romance or Escape. I chose the latter.
- We had one of two lines of dialogue to include. I used "... is the life of the party."
- A choice between two props: a candle or a disco ball. We actually had both in our film.
I was set to be the cinematographer for the Challenge. However, I feel that I am a capable writer, and offered my skills in that area as well. The lead up to the challenge was stressful, as I worried if I had enough equipment to contribute. Fortunately, we had plenty of gear and crew come shooting day. I've never worked with so much, in fact, which was truly a pleasure to utilize good lights, an extra monitor for the director, a handful of actors, makeup artists, sound crew, and even a dedicated clapper. Getting a location, as per usual, was one of the most difficult aspects of preparing for the shoot. Fortunately, our lead actress, Teri Frost, was essential in finding a great location: the Cave Creek Smokehouse Grill. While far, this location had everything we needed for the script I wrote in just three hours Friday night.
The shooting day was fairly long and exhausting, running from 9 AM until nearly 7 PM, including shooting outside in temperatures over 100 degree F. My camera was even kind enough to notify me that it was overheating after filming in direct sunlight. We placed a shade over it after that. However, with the hard work of everyone involved, we largely succeeded in getting all the shots we needed and I'm very proud of the result. I feel like I learned a lot and, although we did not win any awards come the awards night, I feel our film was one of the best. It was also shown first at the Phoenix Art Museum in front of a sold out theater. Again, thanks so much to everyone involved (especially the Smokehouse Grill, Shawn, Aymi, Teri, our photographer Kyle, and Amanda Na Beaubien for her great last minute makeup work on the ax wound), and keep checking back for more updates about future film challenges I participate in.
Please also feel free to let me know your thoughts about the film in the comments below.