Sharing the 'PAE8397' short film script
Have you ever started something with your friends and had to leave it because it turns out, nobody was as excited as you were? What did you do about it? Well, I decided to share it.
In my case it was a short film. And the thing about short films (and films in general) is that they involve actors. And if you are anything like me, then the only real acting you can do is merely a cameo. Which means that you really need actors. But here is the catch: it's a low-to-no budget film. And just like any other non-profit effort, it means that people that are going to be involved must be at least as half as excited as you are. Otherwise you might have troubles.
Troubles like people leaving right in the middle of the rehearsals. Right when you thought everything was finally rolling. And the timing was great as well. Less than a week before Easter is over. Not even enough time to shoot. And as that wasn't enough, more people became less and less interested until you finally decide to join the club as well.
But it's fine. After all, it's Easter. People rest this time of the year. Needless to say, it turned out to be a very relaxing Easter. Totally unproductive mind you, but relaxing nonetheless. I also reconnected with some really old friends. And it's not like we were gonna make money out of it. We wish, but weren't. And then there's the summer. It's not that far away. Yeah, we still got the summer. Maybe things will go better. We now have plenty of time to rewrite the script, prepare our props, find a little budget and all those boring things.
And then I got this idea. About sharing it on the Internet. To see how people will react. How you will react. "Not a bad idea" I thought to myself. "Not a bad idea at all". And so I did.
A driver gets robbed in the middle of the night. The thief points a gun at him and orders him to drive to a darker, more quieter place. But the driver doesn't obey and instead crashes the car on a tree hoping the thief gets hurt. Unfortunately, the thief gets up again, but, as luck has it, the robber suffers amnesia instead.
The film starts as the thief wakes up and doesn't know what's happening (neither does the audience).
Note: OK. I know the synopsis is horrible. Maybe it isn't even a synopsis. But come on. The whole script is 4 pages! It's a synopsis by itself!
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 3.0 Greece Licence.
Warning: The original script was written in Greek. I tried to translate it as best as I could.
Number of pages: 4
Estimated running time: 5 minutes
Note: The following will have no sense what so ever if you haven't read the script.
This film has as few as three actors, one of which has a part of less than 10 seconds. But I'll discuss the acting a little later. For now, I want to go threw the set which is quite challenging. Remember, this is a low-budget film, so we will concentrate on as many DIY solutions as possible.
Which begs the question: "How are you gonna find a crashed car?". This is the first thing everybody asked me once they read the second line of the script. Well, the good thing about the scene is that it's dark.
You see, the good thing about shooting in the dark is that you can hide a lot of "mistakes" since not much can be seen by the audience. So when I was thinking about a crashed car, I was thinking mostly about broken glass stickers, smoke coming out of the engine and stuff like that. There is no reason to actually show the damaged area (or actually damage a car for that matter... although, now that I think of it...). Even the part where the driver hits the door several times on a tree can be easily "pillowed" externally so that nothing will get damaged.
But then there's the lighting. That's the bad thing about a dark scene. Combine that with the small space of the inside of a car and you got yourself a difficult situation. Lucky for us, cinematographer Paul Cameron encountered the same problem when making Collateral:
With a majority of the interaction between the two lead characters taking place inside Foxx's cab, a system had to be devised to light the actors in a way that would avoid the "incandescent light in your face" look while still drawing in the surrounding nightscape. "Michael wanted this sort of wraparound, non-directional light," says Beebe. "He wanted it to feel like there was no real source, to make it appear that everything was lit from the street by the street's own ambience."
To accomplish this illusion, Paul Cameron early on developed a system using electro-luminescent panels, such as those used to illuminate digital watches. Having noticed the material illuminating transit bus shelter advertising, Cameron located a local manufacturer, Novatech Electro-Luminescent in Santa Ana, and commissioned the company to make dozens of the panels for use in the cab [and 16 other vehicles]. Roughly 5" x 15" in size, approximately 30 of the panels were placed inside the cab, attached with Velcro and controlled by individual dimmers, allowing the units to be shut off or removed, depending on the requirements of the shot.
This system is called a LitePanel (or LitePad) and you can find one right here: http://www.rosco.com/us/video/litepad_ho.asp. On the bottom left you can see exactly how it can easily be place on a steering wheel. Just perfect. But wait; this costs money! So let's keep looking shall we?
My next stop was asking the good fellas at dpreview to recommend a solution. And sure enough, they came up with two:
- Use a laptop!
- Create a custom LitePanel by buying cheap LEDs ( example product: http://cgi.ebay.com/LED-Photography-Video-Panel_W0QQitemZ390038586321QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0).
The laptop is a really great and cheap idea (I'm not even considering the case where you can't at least find one). Just set a white desktop background and your ready to go! You can even have a set of images from completely white to completely black and change them appropriately. Oh oh oh.. You can even create a program that does... OK... You know where this is going...
And then there's the DIY solution by buying some cheap LEDs from you local electronics store. Or by breaking something like this. What ever works for you.
Whatever your choice, as the guys at dpreview also pointed out, you will have to cover the car ceiling from the inside with white paper to reflect light in order to soften the shadows.
The script, although just 4 pages long, isn't perfect. Can you imagine? I was shocked too. Anyway, right in the middle of rehearsing we realized that we haven't quite figured out what type of characters we where talking about.
You know, their phychological backgrounds and stuff. I mean, you got this driver that crashes himself on a tree, doesn't obey even when aimed by a gun and generally is a badass, but yet doesn't beat the sh*t out of the thief when he realizes that he suffers from amnesia. We had to change that. I mean, the gun should be the first thing he's thinking about when he gets up.
As for the thief, the more we talked about him, the "wimpier" he was becoming. We thought that this robbery might as well be his first unsuccessful attempt. You can clearly see why when the driver has the balls to continue driving even when he shouts at him to stop the damn car with a gun on his neck.
After so many hours of debating, changing, disagreeing and all that, I realize that making a character isn't that simple. We changed a lot from this script. The biggest change is with the thief now sitting in the passenger seat and the gun being at his feet. Maybe I'll share this version when we are done with the changes.
Or even better, maybe you have any suggestions you would like to share. I'll be glad to hear them.
We will probably have this done at summer. Maybe even sooner. Either way, we will definitely upload the result at Thodoris' Myspace Film page along with the other projects. So stay tuned!