I tried making a short film *film included!*
I tried to make a short film. It was harder than I thought. Check out the full short film and my experience in this video (plus bloopers!!)
This summer, I attended the 72nd Annual International Jugglers' Association (IJA) Festival in Fort Wayne, Indiana! (check out the IJA: www.juggle.org)
Imagine a week long party full of people throwing stuff up in the air. Yeah, it's that cool.
One of the things I love about the IJA Festival is that there's always a ton of fun things to do! There's workshops, games, competitions, and this year they added even more quirky stuff to the lineup.
One of those new additions was a film festival.
The premise was simple: make a short film that incorporated juggling, but wasn't just your typical "juggling video" with a montage of cool tricks.
That meant that it needed some sort of narrative structure! It was allowed to be any genre (documentary, parody, musical, drama, comedy, etc) and had to be over 5 minutes long.
Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE movies. That's why I moved to Los Angeles 6 years ago: to work in movies. So of course I knew I wanted to enter the IJA film festival! I was not, however, prepared for how hard it was going to be.
Writing the Script
First I had to write the script. I knew I wanted it to be fairly simple. Something I could shoot in a day, in one location with two people. I knew that I wanted to be in it, because I wanted to try acting (turns out, it's hard). And I knew that it had to be over 5 minutes long (which I found super hard). So I came up with the basic idea of someone breaking up with me because I'm a juggler. This has never happened to me, mind you, but I often think how annoying I must be as a roommate because of my juggling habits. To get some inspiration, I asked my current roommate Jen what the most *potentially* annoying things are about having a juggler as a roommate.
She had some quick answers. Too quick.
-Fidgeting all the time.
-Juggling props all over the place.
She said them all with a loving smile. Jen rocks, and loves having a juggler roommate, but she admitted that these are things other people might not like. Perfect reasons for someone to break up with a juggler in a script. Excellent!
Next I needed to make it funny. Ugh.
So I called up my good friend Mark Hayward (juggler and yo-yo extraordinaire, check out his YouTube) who helped me flush out the funny parts of the script. Thanks Mark, you rock.
If you want to read it, here is the final script:
Now, if you watched the video above with the actual short film in it, you'll know that the original script is pretty different from the final product.
That's because MAKING A SHORT FILM IS HARD.
Filming the Short
When we got to the park on filming day to shoot the film, it was a perfect day.
The trees were green, the skies were blue, the lighting was perfect. "My film's gonna look purty" I thought to myself.
But Burbank Airport had other plans.
Once the camera started rolling and my friend Chance and I started saying our lines, we heard a big rumble overhead.
Now, having worked in editing on movies for the past 6 years, I knew that productions usually stop recording when planes fly overhead because the noise can be heard clearly on the microphone. This makes the dialogue hard to hear, and makes it difficult to edit.
So we waited for the plane to pass and started up again.
30 seconds later, another plane. We stop, wait, and start again.
1 minute later, another plane.
This continued for almost an hour. We couldn't even get through an entire take! I started having a slight breakdown (see video for evidence) and eventually decided that we were better off packing up and starting over inside.
Once we set up the lights and camera inside the apartment, things started making progress. There were still plenty of hiccups (an entire out of focus take, light changes, and one of my lenses breaking) but it definitely ran a lot smoother without the deafening sound of planes flying by.
If you read the script, there's a whole second half of the script with a whole different setup. However, by this point it was already evening, and I was looking at the clock realizing we weren't going to be able to shoot for much longer. I was also exhausted. I didn't want to do this again for another day, not this time.
So we chopped off the end of the script and improvised an ending!
I don't think the new ending is as good or as funny, but I do think it works.
The final step in the process was editing, which is my specialty. It took me about a week to edit this one. The hardest part for me was the music. Not having a composer (and not being able to use actual film scores) was extremely challenging. I had to use songs from a music service I pay for called Artlist. They have a lot of great music, but using any royalty free song is going to be a lot harder to use than a composed piece made for film. But I did it, and it worked out pretty well I think!
All in all, it was a great experience. I learned so much about filmmaking and airplanes, and I definitely want to make more short films in the future. I'll be better prepared next time (mentally as well!) I'm really proud of the film we made. It's not perfect, but it's good, and it's a learning step. That's what matters.
So when the time came to show the film, I was super nervous. I was terrified no one would think it was funny, and we'd all just be sitting there for 5 minutes in silence. But that wasn't the case! The movie got a lot of laughs, and everyone was super supportive and excited about it. So supportive in fact that I ended up winning the grand prize!
I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW IT WAS A COMPETITION!
I hope you enjoyed watching my short film and hearing about the experience. If you think I should make more juggling-related shorts, leave a comment and let me know!
Also, I know a lot of people who follow me aren't jugglers and may not understand the inside jokes. Here are a few explanations:
1. The "numbers stuff" refers to Siteswap. Siteswap is a numbered notation given to juggling patterns. It's very math-y, and every trick has a number associated with it. Basically, it's how we describe what we're doing. Common examples include 531, 7441, and 645. A juggler can read those and totally know what those patterns should look like!
2. "It's not like I'm a magician" - Jugglers have a funny attitude towards magicians. It's sort of a silly joke rivalry. I have a lot of magician friends and love them all, this is just a joke. ;)
3. "Some muddy field in Europe, or Indiana" - this refers to two big juggling festivals that happen every year: The IJA (happened in Indiana this year) and the European Juggling Convention (happens in a muddy field in Europe every year).
The Other Entries
If you want to check out the other people who entered and showed support, here they are!
"Juggling Tonight" -- https://youtu.be/Tn8GXMCJjs8
"The Dream" -- https://youtu.be/wZzilp4StHI
"Out Cold" -- https://youtu.be/kEAqcuViY4E
Learn to juggle! --> https://youtu.be/dCYDZDlcO6g
Looking for some great quality juggling props like me? Check out the links below and use promo code "TAYLOR15" for 15% off your entire order!
Juggling Balls: Taylor Tries Beanbag Set
Juggling Clubs: Henry's Loop Clubs
If you enjoy what I do and want to show support plus get all sorts of insider goodies, join my Otter Club on Patreon! --> https://patreon.com/taylortries