Producing A Film For A Festival

Other Vision Studios is known around Greenville, SC as being one of the best video production companies in the upstate. We’ve produced music videos for several local artists, brand videos for several great businesses, produced launch videos for a handful of products, and created several YouTube Channels for our clients, (and a brand-new YouTube Channel for our self). Despite all that our ventures in the short and feature film production side of this industry have been few and far between. That’s why, we were delighted when we were chosen to participate in the 2nd Act Film Festival!

The 2nd Act Film Festival is rather unique among festivals in that, rather than choosing films, it chooses filmmakers. If that statement doesn’t make much sense, let me explain. In most film festivals, a director will submit a finished short or feature which will be viewed by the festival curators and they will decide if that film in and of itself is a good fit for the festival or not. In the 2nd Act Film Festival, a filmmaker submits themselves in the form of a paragraph about their work and art, and samples from their past projects and the curator will then decide which filmmakers they would like to produce a brand-new film to be shown in their festival. In my case, since most of the work Other Vision does is corporate video, I submitted our latest Music Video, Dreams, and our rather comical#yeahTHATGreenville videos.

I had personally been wanting to try my hand at short films for a long time. Our clients always appreciated our commitment to quality and creativity, and I was certain that commitment would translate to the narrative film genre. So, when I got the e-mail letting me know I had been accepted, I was over the moon, but only briefly, because the real work was about to begin. With that e-mail came the assignment. I was given the first two lines and the last two lines of a script and had to write everything in between. It had to be under 5 minutes, and it had to be written within a week. After reading the brief I sat and stared at my monitor for what might have been hours, thinking through how I was going to accomplish this, and what story I could tell with those limitations. Then, as I often do when faced with tough decisions, I grabbed my keys and went for a drive to nowhere in particular while I mulled the entire thing over.

Problem is with any project like this almost every story I could come up with didn’t fit one of the criteria (I also had to produce it in a little over a week too, so “do-ability” was also a concern). When I was a student in film school, most of the things I wrote were sci-fi, fantasy. I love those stories and could write a doctoral dissertation on why they are so compelling, but this one needed to be much more down to earth… more personal… more rom-comish. And after an evening of pondering, the story of someone trying to get to sleep while her partner snored ever so loudly was born.

I won’t spoil the details, as I’d much rather you watch it for yourself to get the full plot, but I will say that I’m quite proud of the script and a whole lot of what we’re doing underneath the surface with this film. After the script was approved, we shot it in one very late night at my apartment, then I spent about a week editing it and then it was time for the festival. My crew and I took a road trip down to Columbia, SC, schmoozed with the 9 other filmmakers, and watched 10 great films that evening.

Unlike other film festivals that give out awards based on judge’s decisions, the 2nd Act Film Festival only gives out one award, and audience choice award. I’d like to say we were in the running for the prize. I mean, when our film premiered, the audience was with us from beginning to end and we got a pretty good pop from the crowd for how we integrated the provided lines, not to mention a major reaction at our climax (just watch it and you’ll know what I’m talking about). However, when it was all said and done we were left with a poster, a nice coffee mug, pride, new friends, and an hour and a half drive back to Greenville.

On the way back, we discussed the other films. There had been some challenging ones, ones that were emotionally hard to watch, ones that were experimental, ones that were funny, and one that made me jealous (because it was sci-fi and I wish I had done a sci-fi). We stopped at Waffle House ordered a round of All-Stars (cause that’s what we were), jumped back in the car and sang along with Tenacious D all the way home.
In the end it was a great experience, one that I’d like to do again. While we may have left without top prize we came away with quite a bit more. Shama, one of the actors in Sleep, is now working with me on Deep Focus (our new YouTube channel), and Sleep has already been accepted into two other film festivals as of this writing. Participating in a festival like this one is a great way to make new connections, jump start your short film career, or beat writers block. I know I’ll be putting my name in the hat for next year’s festival, and would encourage anyone who’s working in the short film industry to do the same.