In junior year of high school I had the brainstorm to make a video project for English class. This was after we all had read Catcher in the Rye. My concept was to cast Blotto in the lead (Holden) and have Vinnie the Fly play a shrink, while Holden Caufield is incarcerated in a mental asylum. It was a post-book sequel kind of thing.
Easy enough, until Blotto decides he’s uncomfortable in front of the camera. Then–mutiny on the set–Blotto takes over as director and casts ME in the lead role. I did protest, perhaps not enough. We had no script, and through the entire scene all I could think of was how to extricate myself and retake the director’s chair. I lasted for one take.
Vinnie asked Holden how he liked the mental ward. “It stinks,” I said. “The place stinks, the food stinks, and the shrink stinks.” Good (hilarious) reaction from Vinnie, but that was it. I was outta there. I quit. “This isn’t working.”
Believing my cameo was over, Elvis left the building. Later it turned out that Blotto submitted that ridiculous scene, just those few lines, and played it for the entire class. I was out sick that day. Thank God.
But now I’m back, babies. Destined for a new spotlight, I had enough of no-budget filmmaking shenanigans, people not showing up, miscast characters, rushed schedules, delays, nutty personalities, lost footage, all of it.
I cast myself this time.
Both Stanley Kubrick and Jackie Chan spoke about the magical ingredient to bring film to the next level: time on set. With enough time you can achieve the most complicated sequence. With enough time you can strip away the actor’s personality and leave him with nothing but the situation in which he finds himself. Time is that one variable that is usually never available to film productions. If you’ve got it, you’d best exploit it.
Stretching Blue is the Warmest Color from a 3 week shoot to something like 6 months may have destroyed any friendship between the actresses and their director, but then again they won Cannes and suddenly became global stars. Kubrick did something similar in Eyes Wide Shut, grabbing hold of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman and not letting go for fifteen months!
So, anyways, my new short film Exulto is very close to wrapping up production. The sound will be tricky and, of course, time-consuming. I’ll give you guys and gals a link.
Technical hurdles are great but so is the freedom to do exactly what you want in the exact manner you choose, no matter how long it takes. I averaged about 40-50 takes per shot.