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Adventures in film making

Here it is as promised, stories about my adventures in filmmaking. As much of an amateur at movies as I am, I hope this story doesn't upset any expert directors. After all, I have used them for inspiration because everyone knows imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Anyway, it started with my family's vacation that we take every two years. In 2002, we went on an Alaskan cruise. It was my bright idea to use the time that normal people would spend lounging on the boat to make a movie.

My cousin Chad had a state-of-the-art mini digital video camera that would film in letterbox and black and white, so we were set. Now we just needed a story, a script, actors and lots of prayer.

We came up with the idea of two girls running away from a mysterious man who they later toss over the side of the boat. But the audience finds out that his reason for chasing them wasn't so sinister after all.

Luckily, I found the two lead female roles in my sister Keli and my cousin Christen. Chad and I pleaded with them to do it; otherwise it would have made for a dull movie. I won't mention what we promised them for going along with our plan because I don't think we ever delivered on it.

After scratching out a line or two on the back of a napkin, I told the girls their lines, and we were off. The script was only good for seven minutes of action, but that's not important.

Later, a movie critic friend of mine would call my ill-conceived masterpiece an "art film" prior to viewing it. I was totally shocked but honored.

We started filming just before our train ride over the mountains where we were to catch the ship. It made for good background scenery anyway. I have to confess, the acting was sub-par. And I can say that because I was one of the main characters.

Filming halted shortly during the middle of the cruise because of bone-chilling cold weather ... in June. We thought it would look silly to have short sleeves on in one scene and a parka on in the next.

We were unable to film the final scene on the boat because people kept walking though our shot. Imagine the nerve. We finished it on the deck at Chad's house. You couldn't tell the difference (wink, wink).

I edited the clips together on our VCR, and when it was over, I had successfully written, produced and directed my first film. Despite how bad it may look to others, I'm still proud of just having it to show.

Immediately upon completion, we started making plans for a sequel. That never happened though, and it's probably a good thing that we spared our families the embarrassment.

But I enjoy the art of filmmaking, and who knows, maybe I'll get a chance to make another someday. Just don't count on seeing it at your local theater.

Web posted on Thursday, August 19, 2004

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