Getting it Made

I made this movie by accident. It was a slow summer, and I had this idea for a story scribbled on three pages of scrap paper. I thought it would be really cool to workshop the scenes with actors and explore the story’s potential to possibly be developed into a screenplay someday. I called some actors I knew – Tom and Daria, and luckily, it was a slow summer for them too. So, we bombed around Winnipeg in my little Yaris with my camcorder, and basically, improvised this movie without anyone knowing – not even us. We started by building the characters together over coffees; Tom and I would meet one day, and then Daria and I would meet the next day, and we would talk about who Zooey & Adam were, and whether they loved or hated their parents, and whether they had faith in universe or trusted no one and nothing, boxers or briefs, eggs or Cap’n Crunch, afterlife or worm-food. Then, once we had the major events and future aspirations of their lives plotted out, we shot the scene where they first meet one another. Then we shot their first date, then the day they decided to move in together, then we staged a wedding for them – complete with embarrassing speeches and hummous. None of these scenes were in my story, and none of them are in the movie. But we thought it was important to do them. It helped us to find the characters, and give their relationship some depth and history - and to get Tom and Daria used to me hovering around and sticking my camcorder in their faces. After about a month of this, we started to shoot the movie. We shot a few times a week for two or three hours. At the end of every shoot day, we would open our daytimers and figure out when we could shoot again. On the days when we weren’t shooting, I started editing the footage to get a sense of the pacing my story was taking on. After two months, I had an epiphany. It came from over my left shoulder when I was in the edit suite. My wife said “I don’t think this is an exercise, I think this is your movie.” Okay, so maybe that’s not a real epiphany, maybe that’s just my wife being smarter than I am. Fine. I started showing the rough cut of the film to other people I trusted, to solicit their opinions. Was it actually a movie? The response was unanimous. “Zooey & Adam” was my third feature film, and before I even knew that I was making it, I was in post-production. Looking back, the experience was so incredibly artistically rewarding, that I hesitate to go back and make movies the way I used to. I would love to develop the approach further - first and foremost by adding a proper sound recordist! - and use it again on my next film.