Opening e-mail is usually pretty uneventful, but that day in August was different.
I saw an ad for the “The 2nd Annual Debra Hill Fellowship presents Producers Guild Weekend Shorts Contest”. Heck of a long name for a shorts contest.
I’d heard of competitions like this before and they intrigued me. The goal is to make a short film in one weekend. It was a time commitment but I have lots of time. (Some people call my current situation “being retired”. I call it working on my third career as a writer/filmmaker.)
What about resources to make the film? My daughter Leia and her boyfriend Allen Hodge had recently connected through a an old high school friend with Studio School TV guru Josh Quillin, who was opening a studio nearby in Upland, California. I talked to him and he was interested. (The prizes we could win were pretty impressive). So, I had a studio, cameras, lights and post-production support. Leia would do still photography and Allen was set to be our cinematographer.
What about actors? For several years I’ve belonged to the Alameda Writers Group (it’s named after the street in Burbank where you’ll find NBC and Disney studios). Luckily for me, the September meeting featured show-business career coach Shawn Tolleson and so the audience included a lot of her actor clients.
I pitched my project to the group. “I’m going to make a short film. On Friday afternoon at 3:00 p.m,.the Producers Guild will send us a subject and three elements that must appear in the film We’ll need to write, produce, edit and upload a five minute film by Sunday at 5:00 p.m. I need writers, actors and technical people. The rules say no-one can get paid.”