танец: How we came to make our Russian-Sci-Fi-Horror-Thriller in 48 Hours

So it was the 5th of July, celebrating America's independence in my backyard with friends, food, and numerous adult beverages. So a few of us started talking films, someone mentioned the @48HourFilmProject, and the rest of the conversation went something like this:

EXT. Pool Party BBQ - Dusk

A fairly regular suburban backyard, with a rather large in-ground pool with a slide. People talking, yelling, jumping in and out of the pool. Roughly thirty people, give or take. Music plays over the yard.

KYLE, JOE, OTHER KYLE, and ME stand off to the side, drinks in hand.

ME

I'd like to do it sometime.

JOE

(very enthusiastic)

Let's do it this year!

KYLE

(intrigued)

I'd be into it.

ME

We say that every year, and then we don't.

JOE

(even more enthused)

Let's really do it this time!

OTHER KYLE

Ok, well when is it.

Everyone shrugs.

Joe pulls out his phone and starts searching.

KYLE

Ok, so we're gonna do it then?

ME

Yeah, I'm down.

OTHER KYLE

Sure, why not.

Joe looks up from his phone.

JOE

It's this week...

EVERYONE

...and for some reason we signed up anyway. I'm pretty sure had Joe not been so enthusiastic about the whole thing we wouldn't have ended up doing it, but he was so amped up it was infectious. Everything escalated rather quickly and we didn't have a chance to think about it, Kyle summed it up pretty good.

And then we found ourselves in a 48 Hour Film Competition
— Kyle Nicholas Zephyr McCurdy

 

So we met one night that week, to try and figure out potential cast, crew, and locations. We came up with a list of locations we could get access to, and didn't use any of them. We then decided it would be very cool to see if our two lovely Russian friends would be willing to be in the film in some capacity. We figured that the addition of some Russian dialogue, maybe some subtitles, would add a whole dimension to the film no matter what genre we got. We were just gonna figure out a way to use them no matter what. Well the girls said they were all-in, down for whatever, and I think all of us would agree that became hands down our best idea of the whole process. The girls were absolutely amazing.

Then we took a look over the genres, trying to figure out if there were any that we would throw back for a wild card one. We were all in agreement that the only one we didn't want was Sci-Fi, we'd be happy with anything else. However, upon looking at the wild-card genres we decided no matter what we got we weren't putting it back, because there were several wild-card genres that we definitely did not want. So we were keeping the genre we pulled in the first place, no matter what. 

Well wouldn't you know it, come the kickoff event yours truly pulled Sci-Fi out of the frigging hat. My heart sank, I showed Kyle and the two of us still contemplated putting it back for the wild card picks. Ultimately, we just sucked it up and raced back to my house to start scheming. When I told everybody else over the phone they all shared the same defeated response..."WTF are we gonna do?!?" It's not that we don't enjoy Sci-Fi as a genre, but when you think about science fiction the first thing that comes to mind are special effects and makeup. I can assure you none of us are well versed in those areas, and in a filmmaking race that's not exactly an ideal situation. 

In hindsight, I'm obviously glad we got Sci-Fi. I think having the one genre we didn't want really forced us to put our ideas together, and pushed our imaginations to places we weren't expecting to go. I joked at the premiere Q&A that we spent 24 of the 48 hours arguing over some of the stupidest things. Now we did disagree on a lot of things, and I think that comes from everyone being so passionate about the film being the best it can be. Everyone had their own vision and I think we did a pretty good job of using some of everybody's ideas. We ran the shoot like a democracy, which probably isn't the best idea when your trying to get things done quickly (SEE: D. C., Washington), but we made it work. 

We spent the first night hammering out the story and the script, writing it around knowing we had the two girls. We tried to get a few different friends to play the male roles in it, but at about 2:30 AM Saturday morning Kyle and Kyle stepped up to play the two parts. Kyle McCurdy played the transformation from goofball to Soviet-monster perfectly, and anyone who's seen the film knows Kyle Regan's performance as Bruce brings a tear to the eye...*wink*wink*

There's a few F'Bombs in here...you've been warned.

The locations we used were all last minute finds. The only one we looked at ahead of time was the plant, which we scouted the night before with help from a friend. The other two spots were Matt's ideas, and they couldn't have worked out better. First he hooked us up with our creepy laboratory in his family's own auto body shop, Rhode Island Collision. Matt had sent me a picture of the spot and I thought it was awesome, but when we got inside I almost pee'd myself. The white room instantly reminded me of something from the Nastramo in Alien, hence the inspiration for our slate, and before we even started shooting I was suddenly beyond stoked we got Sci-Fi. 

Then when we needed a bar for our opening sequence, and Matt called his friends, now our friends, over at Fahrenheit 516 in North Providence. They were so nice and accommodating, and even stayed open late so we could shoot and have a drink (who am I kidding, multiple drinks) after our long day of shooting! Not to mention their sign out front is absolutely bad-ass. 

If that sign doesn't lure you in, then I just don't know...

So then we stayed up all night editing, and by we I mean Kyle stayed up all night editing and the rest of us passed out a various points throughout the next day. He did an incredible job of putting the story all together, and fixing everything we effed up during the shoot.

Here's our makeshift studio space, late in the game on Sunday...a little inspiration on the wall.

All in all, we came out with a finished project that I'm very proud to have been a part of. Everyone put everything they had into it, and all of the hard work shows up on the screen. So a big thank you from the whole cast and crew to everyone that helped in any way, and also to everybody who came out to see the premiere at Cinemaworld. Also, a big shout out to the Tapestries who hooked us up with a a killer song for the film. We had a ton of local musicians we wanted to use for our film, but Sci-Fi sort of put a damper on us using more of them. 

There were some tremendous films in Group E, and we're all very humbled to take home the Audience Choice Award at our screening. We're also very much looking forward to the "Best of" Awards for the 48 on Saturday, August 9th, at Aurora in Providence. If anybody wants to see the film on the big screen I don't know when the next time that'll happen so come down and check it out on August 9th, after party at Aurora after the screening. (tickets available here

The best part of the weekend by far, and I'm pretty sure everyone on the cast/crew would agree, was getting to hang out with such a great group of people. We had tons of laughs and got to make some great new friends. The only regret I have from the entire weekend is not getting a picture of the entire crew. The closest thing we have is this one below. The only person missing is our lovely AC, who took a TON of pictures throughout the day. Thanks Kim.