The First Date.

And now, finally, the first short I shot this year: The First Date.

The First Date

It is, admittedly, a very basic short. But that was the point.

I had spent years out of the game, (im)patiently waiting for post-production on Inhumanwich! to move forward before moving on. Then I realized there’s only so much waiting I can do, so I spent a good chunk of 2014 writing a couple new projects. Then came 2015, and a moment of truth: keep writing, or get off my butt and actually film something?

But it had been a while since the crew and I had dusted off the camera. Jumping into a feature – or even a complicated short – might be too much too soon. Better to shake loose the rust with a simple shoot, something that could be filmed in one day and in one location with minimal cast and crew. This was modeled after our experiences on the 48 Hour Film Project, a great lesson in filmmaking economy (but this time, mercifully, without the tight deadline).

Rather than dig into my backlog of scripts (save those for later), I opted to build from scratch something intentionally easy to shoot: one camera, locked down; two actors; basic edits1. Oh, and nothing but dialogue, because that’s what I do.

We wound up making the whole thing with six people (eight if you include my friends Rich and Rebecca, who volunteered their basement for a quiet location). Mike played Sytrox, and recommended actress/comedian Kelly for the role of Jill. Matt edited and voiced the narrator (on set, but also in a separate recording session, our only cheat from the “single day” idea). Shane shot the thing, his first gig as my director of photography. John wrote and performed the music. Shane and John doubled up on sound recording duties. And, of course, I was there, too.

Post-production took longer than expected, thanks to some audio issues that needed ironing out before editing could commence. (You can still hear a few rough spots in the final cut, but I’m OK with it.) With no clear deadline in mind, however, I didn’t mind the delay. Besides, the bumps we encountered helped show what we needed to tweak for the next one – one that we shot before the final sound mix for The First Date was completed, one that’s still being edited itself, all while we’ve started work on the next next one.

That’s the rhythm we’ve worked out, I suppose. Write and prep the next one while the last one is in post. Everyone stays busy on separate projects. Keep the gears churning.

And each new project is slightly more complex than the last, baby steps toward… I’m not sure what yet. We have some ideas.

Until then, though? Enjoy small scale stuff like this. Two actors, one camera, lots of dumb jokes. Enjoy.

1This not to say the editing was rudimentary. On the contrary. Matt did masterful work picking the best takes, trimming each shot to find the perfect comic timing, even rearranging a few jokes for better impact. Just because it’s seven minutes of hard jump cuts doesn’t mean it was easy. Matt killed it here.

copyright 2015 David Cornelius all rights reserved


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