It all started in the Summer of 1995. My cousin “Zep” purchased the new ‘Dumb and Dumber’ VHS. “It’s the funniest movie I have ever seen!” (EVER!!!) The way he talked about the comedy, I just had to view the tape. (Yeah, I said tape, it was ’95!) Long story short, I fell in love with the movie. From that day forth, I always wanted to make my own movie…but how the hell was that going to happen?
Fast forward to the Fall of 2009; it was the middle of September. My cousin “Ema” discovered a script writing contest and we decided to create a story for submission. The script had to be for a short film, which meant no longer than 29 minutes. The deadline was November 22nd, so we figured there was plenty of time. Two weeks later, we finally decided to stop lollygagging. (Procrastination is a hell of a drug!) [Doesn’t lollygagging sound like it should mean “choking,” how the hell does it mean pussy-footing? Pussy-footing? How the hell does that word mean “procrastinating?” Sounds like it should be the title of some fetish porno!] During the forced brainstorming session, we each came up with decent ideas but nothing really concrete. After several minutes, I said, “What if we did a movie about two friends who fight with water?” Great idea I thought. “That’s the fucking dumbest thing I ever heard!” E replied. (This is how we talk to each other. There is a mutual respect, so nothing is personal.) “That’s cause you’re a fucking idiot; let me explain!” I shot back.
I clarified the concept and he added his spin to the plot. The night ended with a solid idea. The following day, he sent me a text with an idea for the name; Water Cycle! “Perfect!” That was easy!
Fast forward to November 20th. “Yo, we have to write that script today; the deadline is in two days!” Ema stated. “Yeah, I’ve been here, you’ve been bullshitting!” I reasoned. (I’m not blaming the procrastination on E; I am stating a fact. At the time, I was stuck in the house in a Halo brace, while this guy was out, at all hours of the night, performing community service and helping immigrants learn English! What a great kid! Well, at least that’s what I was told he was doing!)
As much as we hate to procrastinate, we have always managed to perform in the clutch. Needless to say, the script was completed and ready to be submitted the following day. E left for Cape Verde at the end of the month and we used the Internet to keep in contact. In a way, I was living vicariously through his tales. (Don’t get the wrong idea; nothing exciting. All I heard about were stories of clean-up efforts and missionary work. I’m stuck in the house and I can’t get one tale about a drunken-condom-less mistake? C’mon Bro! You’re overseas for Pete’s sake!) ***Clearly, I will neither confirm nor deny what actually happened during his trip to CV! If you want the truth, “pick ‘em up!” (I meant to say “hit him up,” but Dumb and Dumber is in my head.)***
On a rainy day in May, I received an e-mail containing wonderful news; We won the competition. (It wasn’t really raining, but I was born in April and I’m tired of people exaggerating how much it rains!!! ALL OTHER MONTHS SUCK!!!) [“Oh, I get it. He was born in April; no wonder he’s a fool!” I’m no fool; no siree!] Let me mention the prize. The first place was all the necessary equipment to film the script, and the movie was to be shown at the Boston Film Festival. (We didn’t really believe any of this, but we remained cautiously optimistic!)
Towards the end of March, E returned from CV. About a month later, we received an e-mail asking for the equipment list. “What? How the hell are we going to figure that out?” I wondered. “I know how!” Ema declared confidently. “My friend ‘Ant’ is in the business and I’ll ask him what we need.” He continued.
Ant sent a detailed list, complete with first and second options. It was pretty impressive. (Good looks Ant!) The list might as well have been written in Chinese because we had no idea what most of the words meant. Here is a small glimpse into the conversation while we reviewed the e-mail. “AG-HPX300; that has to be the lighting equipment.” I guessed. “8 foot straight track; must be the sound equipment!” E assumed. (WAY OFF! The AG-HPX300 is the camera we used, and 8 foot straight track, is an actual track, used for rolling the camera back and forth.) [My mind is ridiculous; the lyrics “Back, back, forth, and forth” from Aaliyah’s ‘Back and Forth’ just popped into my head.] We forwarded the list to Michelle, who represented the competition and she agreed to most of the equipment.
Next phase, how do we find actors. The first step, send an E-mail to P. Barros and ask him to forward it to his contacts. Check! Little did we know, P did us one better. “I called my boy Ted, who is in the industry, and he said to hit him up and he’ll help out.” (Good Looking out fam!) We made the connection, and agreed to meet Ted at Cesaria for a business dinner. (If you’re looking for great food in the Boston area, look no further than Restaurante Cesaria! I highly recommend the place!) What a great guy. Ted was amazing. He used his connections with SAG and helped us set up the auditions. (Screen Actors Guild)
Although Ted wowed us, we had to have a back up plan. That’s when “T” got involved. We created a flyer and T arranged for his mom to print out free copies for us. (Thank you for that!!! Having a great family is amazing!) When the prints arrived, I jumped in the car with E and T, (Almost makes me want to phone home!) and we hit the campuses; Harvard, BU, BC, UMass Boston, etc. We asked for permission to place the flyers on campus, and usually didn’t have a problem. When we did encounter some resistance, we put them up anyway! (We are from Boston!)
Thanks to Jason and John from DSNI, we were able to use the conference room for the auditions. (We truly milked every family connection!) Thanks to “Nira” for stepping up and helping out with the auditions. We truly didn’t know what to expect. Were actors going to show up? There were five characters in the script, so we at least hoped three males and two females would tryout.
I was joined by E, T, “TC,” “Josh,” “T-Water,” and Ted. We couldn’t believe the turnout. Actors from as far as Connecticut and Maine showed up. Nira handled the sign-up sheet and T read with each candidate. It was one of the most enjoyable days of my life. (During our first meeting with the selected actors, we asked for feedback on the audition process, and the consensus was, “professional!”) **Thank you to all the talented people who came out to audition!**
An interesting occurrence happened during one of our meetings with T-Water, who helped out as the PA, fulfilling some ridiculous Roxbury Latin ritual. (One of the Fake Latin Schools!) I was reviewing the script with Ema, adding some final touches, and T-Water said, “Damn, you guys always fight.” We had no clue what he was talking about. We were having a normal conversation, trying to figure out the best dialogue. (Or so we thought!)
Who to choose? There is nothing better for a movie than the problem of having too much talent. We gathered on a Sunday and watched the videos. (Of course we filmed the auditions.) We even filmed the selection process. (Thanks to TC for coming through with the camera!) It was a fight to the finish, but we managed to agree on five actors. Everything was coming together perfectly. (We selected Rito Andrade, Katherine Sao, Chris Johnson, Alessia Novak, Bill Mootos, and Kyrell Depina. We added a new scene!) Great Cast!
One evening, I sat in the living room with Ema and we decided to view the tape of the cast selection process. That’s when we were faced with reality. WE ARGUE A LOT! It’s been happening for so many years that we don’t even notice. (Sometimes people probably think we hate each other, but I guess that’s what happens when two jerks collide.) [Not collide like in the Howie Day song though!]
The equipment came from Rule Boston Camera. Bryan, who was extremely encouraging and helpful, suggested we choose a long weekend in order to keep the equipment for an extra day. Memorial Day it was! Thankfully, Ant and his friend Joe made the drive from New York and walked us through the filming process.
We walked into Rule and Bryan led us to the equipment. (Thousands of dollars.) Joe and Ant checked all of the gear and we carried the lot into two vehicles. The filming process was an experience.
On Thursday, Ant and Joe arrived from New York. We had a fridge full of beer and the plan was to order some food and set up the schedule. (I don’t know the exact number, but there were over fifty beers in the fridge.) Around two in the AM, Ant went to the fridge and Ema yelled, “Grab me one too!” I also yelled for a cold one and so did Joe. “Oh shit! That’s it, the final four!” Ant yelled. We couldn’t believe it. March Madness? No! Not that final four. It was time to call it a night.
The cast was scheduled to arrive at noon, allowing us time to set up the equipment. The first day of filming was amazing. We had many great people who came and helped out. “Liz,” did the Makeup, Jess helped with the props, and my brother Justin was the jack-of-all-trades. I can’t forget Brett. He responded to the SAG e-mail and asked to be a part of the filming process. “Of Course! C’mon down.” (The price was right…FREE! Making independent movies is about the experience, not the money.) Brett was great with the sound. My cousin G helped out on-set as well. The first day of shooting ended at the Beach. (What do you think is going to happen when you have two beautiful women and a bunch of guys running the set; WE DECIDED TO ADD SOME BEACH SCENES WITH BIKINIS!!!) The group shared some food and called it a day. What a success.
Day two. This was the longest day. (Before I forget. There is a scene in the movie which required a little guerrilla film tactics. We all agreed to meet at 5am on day two, to film the shot we needed. As day one came to a close, we agreed to shoot the scene on Sunday, instead. Everyone was briefed. Day one was another long night of preparation. We didn’t sleep until 3:30am. Two hours later, Ema was awakened by a phone call. It was Chris. “Hey what’s going on?” E asked. “I’m outside.” Chris replied. “FUCK!” E thought. WE FORGOT TO TELL CHRIS ABOUT THE CHANGE! I still feel bad about that one.) The crew reassembled at 9am, and we filmed scene after scene after scene. Bill, who was only available on Saturday, arrived, learned his new lines in ten minutes, banged out the scene like the pro he is, and left. It was unbelievable. (He did slam down G’s snowboards pretty hard, SORRY ABOUT THAT! No harm, no foul.) After Bill departed, we continued to film scene after scene after scene; I thought the day would never end.
10pm, “One more scene and we can call it a day.” The most challenging scene to shoot, because we all wanted to kill each other. I think there were seven different heated arguments. The scene, which was fairly simple, wrapped up after a couple hours. Finally, we called it a night. Tempers were high; no planning for the Sunday’s shoot—straight to bed!
Day Three was about reconciliation. We commenced at 6am, but the previous day was in the past. (Obviously!) The guerrilla scene was perfect. The final scenes were easy. Kyrell arrived and did an amazing job. (What a natural.) FINISHED!!! Truly a grueling three days, but it was all worth it in the end. Phenomenal experience!
The editing process was aided by TC and “D.” Talk about a long tedious procedure. Watching every cut of every scene and splicing the movie together frame by frame. Adding audio, adding the score; I wanted to kill myself. (Thanks to TC for providing the editing equipment, thanks to your girl…the food was delicious. WE ATE LIKE KINGS!) I can’t forget Grand Larceny for providing a track, and lending technical support.
Overall, co-producing the movie with my man E was an unforgettable experience! We plan on having a screening in the Fall! We didn’t forget the actors; we still have some mastering to finish up with a true sound wizard, Timmy. The finished copies are coming!!!
How could I forget, the Boston Film Festival thing didn’t happen. No worries, we have an opportunity to improve the final copy. 2012 film festival circuit—RISUS PRODUCTIONS IS COMING!