Last Saturday, I shot a new short film titled Hello. For the past two years, I was an Instructor for a mobile workshop, which I've written about in the past, so I'd spent about one week out of every month in a hotel room. I'd always let my imagination run away with me and occasionally convince myself that maybe my room was haunted. At a workshop in January, during the second to last night in my room, I couldn't sleep (as usual) and also couldn't get the melody from the opening sequence of "Up" out of my head (as I've seen it about 35 times, using it as a teaching tool in the workshop), so I got inspired to write a short screenplay. I ended up writing a 5 page quirky comedy about a haunted hotel room from the ghost's perspective.
Everyone who read it really enjoyed it, as did I, so I figured why not make it. It's short & sweet, and I knew it'd be fairly easy to shoot.
I wrote the script with two of my favorite actors in mind: Lauren A. Kennedy & Ricardo Manigat. Anyone who's been following my work will surely recognize them. So, I got them on board; Peter Westervelt, my wonderfully creative & resourceful DP, was game, Matt Gershowitz, my AD/Editor & right hand man, was excited to get back to a fun small-scale project after our long two years of Summit, and Rashida Bolden, our makeup artist for our last two shorts, was gracious enough to offer her talent & services to the spooky-funny project. We rounded out our low-key team with co-founder Chris Carroll taking on-set photos & an additional actor Maylin Castro, who hung out with us for a quick scene. A big thank you goes out to all of them for helping bring this production together.
Also thanks to generous local film friends Steven Smith & Michael DiBiasio - because of their equipment loans, I only had to rent one piece of equipment, a Zeiss zoom lens. As for the location, I rented the cheapest room I could find near my apartment (to have as a homebase if needed) and we shot the film kind of guerrilla style in the sketchiest & sleaziest motel I've ever been in, filled with drugs & prostitution for sure, between 2pm and 2am (though it quickly became 3am thanks to daylight savings time). Thankfully, we survived the icky motel unscathed and pulled the film off without a hitch! Our only setbacks were getting a late start, so having to change one day scene to a night scene, and my monitor not working. Otherwise though, it was smooth. Luckily, sound is not an issue for this film because there was some serious noise going on in the halls, which actually worked in our favor because the questionable activities of the other guests allowed us to fly under the securities' radar & shoot the film sans disruption or confrontation. I'm so excited about what we accomplished with this short short & cannot wait to dive into Post.
Below are BTS photos from the shoot:
And here are some shots from the Raw footage:
We shot on a BlackMagic Pocket.
A film we screened at IndieWorks a few months back used a stocking over their lens to give their footage more of an old film (stock) feel because it was a period piece. This inspired me to want to do that for this film and create a motif where the stocking would only be on the lens anytime we're seeing events through the perspective of the ghost in the film. Maybe you can see the subtle difference in the screenshots above, though it's easier to see in the moving footage. Peter found this article and executed the look perfectly. We're both really happy with the end result and will definitely do it again should a project come along that's suitable (which I'm sure will because I spent $65 on those stockings & that's enough to get me thinking creatively for an opportunity to use up both legs).
That's it - the story of shooting "Hello." I'll keep you updated on post-production over the next few months!