Three Minute Strange Theatre

Classic episode from my 3MST series. “First Date” tells the strange tale of man and woman having a lovely evening, but the imagination of one love bird might be toooo much for the gentleman to handle!

In the late 1990’s, let’s say 1999, I made this short film for my advanced film class at Saddleback Junior College. The script was written several years earlier for a TV class at CSUFullerton taught by Bob Davis, but never shot.

The circumstances surrounding this short film in my advanced film class were that I had just broken away from my group because I didn’t see eye-to-eye with the direction my five-member group was moving in, nor did I think they were taking the projects and potential to do something “advanced” seriously enough.

We were not supposed to do individual projects, so instructed the teacher, but there was no other group to join. So I dusted off my old script, grabbed a few friends, and shot this short over the course of a night and a half.

The thing I wanted to prove, mostly to myself, is that one person can create something “advanced”, but it’s easier when done in groups, as long as everyone knows their role. I’m not exactly one to sit quietly in the backseat during production and leave a percentage of my overall grade in the class in the hands of novices. The first project I did with that group was something I wrote and directed, and acted in. I joined the class to make some movies.

When each group handed in their project for this assignment, as we viewed them all, I knew splitting from my original group was a very smart thing to have done! πŸ˜‰

Of course, there were problems during shooting, and mistakes made here and there. (This copy of the movie comes straight from my dvd, made in 2005 – I didn’t want to reedit the entire thing and try to make it perfect.) This can be expected from a one-man operation and I’m willing to forgive those mistakes and learn from them.

The things that stand out to me the most are:

My instructor had lectured to us on the ways to avoid framing “boring” shots. He said the “profile” shot of a person speaking is not dynamic and a poor choice, overall. Instead, the camera should come from an angle at the actor, and not dead-on profile like in a mug shot.

While I will normally agree with this, my first instinct was to challenge it! In the opening shot of the man and woman standing in front of the painting, it is done in “mug shot” profile. I’m very sure my instructor rolled his eyes when he saw this. πŸ˜‰

The narrators, “Ratatap and Serub”, were shot in an upstairs room of my friends house, lit solely by candlelight. They improvised several of their lines and I did not originally intend to cut back to them as often as I did, but their performances were too good to pass on. And the inter-cutting made it all the stranger.

I used blue and orange color gels over the lights to create different moods.

There was a baby on the ground during most of the shooting.

My friends are not actors, but I think they took my lines and gave them meaning and weight. We still quote many of those lines today.

I wanted to pay homage to Hitchcock by giving myself a cameo so that is me opening the door and saying, “Dinner is served!” at the end.

Overall, I have always loved this short movie, was proud of how it came together and still believe that group projects are a nightmare. πŸ™‚