Last summer, I had an idea to write a screenplay for me and my friend Robbie Bruens. I enlisted help from one of his collaborators, Jeg Jooper, who was the cinematographer of Treefeelers.
The logistics was tight. I would bus down to LA for five days and work around their schedules for two evenings of shooting. Robbie arranged some photogenic locations (we needed a bedroom and a bathroom). We shot at Echo Lake Park, Pershing Square, a shop near Santana Row, and a few Hollywood residences.
The shooting process was a lot of fun. My collaborators, Robbie and Jeg, were respectful, easy to work with, and provided input and logistical concerns where they thought it was needed. I felt very supported and inspired by our three person team.
This was my first script I’ve written* (by myself*). I’m normally interested in improvisational work. I put asterisks in there because I scripted some non-scripted parts. There is dialog that is off the cuff (Robbie’s words) and there is dialog that is read from the script. I’m pretty fascinated by that process, essentially giving a fictional frame to essentially an interview.
During the video editing process, the words that I wrote seemed stilted and awkward which I think adds to the dream quality, but I was more charmed by the natural verbage that improv provides.
Speaking of the editing process, I found it to be um, rushed. I care about my projects, but this one sat in my to-do pile while I waited for my musician darling to produce some music for the movie. By the time I got the movie into the editing room, my vision for the project was a bit fuzzy and I felt less driven towards the unpleasant details of editing. And truth be told, it was on a friend’s computer, so I didn’t feel at leisure to go away and come back. It was edited in one sitting.
I had recorded the sound separately. We didn’t have a sound person and I am not too savvy with processes about that. I ended up using the table reading as the final spoken word part. It was kind of funny. I’ve seen movies that do that, where they do the dialog in a voice over kind of way, (like in Ant Man 1 and 2), though in this, Robbie does his own lines and the mouths rarely line up. Ha! Ah! I keep telling myself that it is in fact a step below from Student Work. I just like doing this. I don’t study it and I don’t see myself becoming an industry professional. It’s the amor in amateur.
My approach to this project was not to think about refining it too much and letting it breathe raw qualities.
Future projects like this, advice to me in the future, I would love to have more control over my environments and create more whimsy with practicals like bizarre lighting and props, make up, movement. I love making movies, but it’s hard to do it in a city where I can’t take all my art-making supplies and lighting equipment. I would love to make a script with someone else too. It was nice having a script but I felt less driven to zhoozh it. Feeling beholden to a second co-producer would have made me more considerate in the refining process, or to a refining process.
A note about the Credits– I like keeping it simple but I also knew that I would have a post about it where I can give credit formally.
Robbie Bruens, actor, muse, coordinator and improviser
Jeg Jooper, cinematographer (work involving drone footage and rollerblading camera work!)
Katarina Countiss, actor, creator, “costumer”, writer, video editor
Music: “Bedroom Shapeshifting” Written and Performed by Cassidy Barnes
“Picnic Night” Written and Performed by Cassidy Barnes–The classical guitar piece is Canarios by Gaspar Sanz 1674 (public domain)
Amelie Fantasy — 9 min 37 sec
Special Thanks to Christine Medrano and David Clifford Turner