Sunday, August 16, 2009

Trilogy of Error

Remember that old movie in which Mickey Rooney tells Judy Garland, "My uncle has a barn - let's put on a show," leading to a spectacular musical revue with amazing scene changes, expensive costumes and expertly choreographed production numbers? Well, neither do I. I'm not that old. But if I did remember that movie, I might have thought of it this month when a filming location and a friend with equipment became available on the same weekend. With the chance to make my own short film staring me in the face, how could I refuse. In fact, to make the most of the opportunity, I decided to make three films that weekend. How hard could that be? Well, as actor, producer, casting director, craft services, prop master, and probably a few other things I'm forgetting, it turns out it could be pretty hard. Harder than just showing up and saying your lines - uh-oh, lines! Yes, even though I wrote the scripts, I had to find time to learn them, sometimes a few minutes before the camera started rolling. Instead of using brand-new original scripts, I adapted three sketches I had written for the stage a couple of years ago. I did this because I had already seen them enacted and new that they had gotten laughs, so that eliminated at least one source of anxiety. Also helping - making the whole thing possible, in fact - was my friend Arnie supplying and operating cameras, lights, and sound equipment. It was an exhausting, sometimes frustrating weekend, but it was a great educational experience too, in the sense of learning what not to do again. Of course performing was a lot of fun, but it was a different kind of thrill to hear my words - which had lain dormant on the page for quite a while - being brought to life by some rather talented actors. Now it's postproduction time, which brings a whole new set of challenges and rewards.