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Six things I learned working on Worcester Film Wars

Two weeks ago began what might've been the coolest event I've had the opportunity to take part in since I got into making movies. The first ever Worcester Film Wars took place. It was very much like the 48 Hour Film Festival, wherein teams have a limited time frame to write, shoot, and edit a short film and submit it. WFW took place at Ralph's Diner and was conceived in part by the one and only Molly McGrath of Grime. I immediately signed up and began recruiting as many of my friends as possible. The result was Death of the Party, an idea I'd been kicking around for a couple of years but never had an excuse to try doing it... until now. After Sunday night's premiere event, I'm glad to share it here:

Now that you've seen it, here's some of the things I came away with after my experience.

1. I'm better at delegating than I thought

I know this will sound weird, but I really like job interviews. I like them because you're kind of feeling each other out. They want to see if they want to hire you and you want to see if they're someone you really want to work for. But there are always those questions they ask to see if they can catch you off guard, especially "What's your biggest weakness?" I hate that one. If I'd had an interview to go to in the past year, I would've definitely said, "I'm not the best at delegating tasks."

After making this movie, I think I could change my answer. I took control of situations that came up and asked crew members to handle a lot of things that might've otherwise made me say, "Yeah, I'll take care of it." Whether it was asking a cast member to pick up some ping pong balls on the way to the set or asking my girlfriend to help Death back into the awesome costume she made for him, I didn't think twice - and the tasks got done! How about that?

2. I know more than enough to just "get by"

I went to college for communications, but didn't go into the field once I graduated. When I did start to get involved a few years later, I discovered that things had changed tremendously. A lot of what I knew before had to be relearned thanks to evolving technology, and working on my own made me think that my knowledge was still limited. Once I brought in Andy Forgit and Matt Pinault as my DP and sound man, respectively, I realized that some things never change, and my grasp of what had changed was better than I thought. A pleasant surprise and a shot in the arm.

Wanna party?

3. Three days go by quickly

Sure, it might seem like three days is a good timeframe to shoot and edit a seven minute short, but even when you plan ahead and let everyone know what to expect, the deadline really comes up fast. Once shooting wrapped Sunday morning, we scrambled to complete the edit. It proved to be a much harder process than we anticipated, and we wound up pulling the thumb drive out of the computer at the stroke of 7 - just making the deadline.

4. I have a ton of talented, reliable friends

When I let my friends know that I was entering the competition, I was met with overwhelming support and requests to join my team. From Andy texting me almost immediately upon my announcement to the last-second additions to the cast who put the quality of the film over the hump, I couldn't have done it without them. They already know this, but I'll say it to them again - you guys helped make a dream come true. I can't thank you enough.

Put your hands like this. No, like this.

5. Creative Cloud is worth the money

Before I get into it, I'd like to quote Casey Neistat when it comes to editing software: "The Godfather Part II was edited with scissors and tape."

Like Casey, I think it doesn't matter what you use to edit your movie, just as long as tell a good story. That said, us video guys will debate the issue of Final Cut Pro X vs. Adobe Creative Cloud until the cows come home. I'm a FCP guy, and Andy and Matt prefer Adobe. I love how FCP runs on my sub-optimal (for editing) Mac Mini, but I hate how Apple decided to try to re-invent the wheel with the current version. Andy and Matt love the vast selection of tools and full customizability that Adobe gives you with CC, but they aren't big fans of paying $50 a month to use it. Still, after seeing how easy it could be to have all of those tools right at my fingertips, the fifty bucks seems like it's almost a bargain. Almost. Let me pay off some credit cards first.

6. Editing can be cruel and heartless

Here's another quote, this time from someone I didn't expect to invoke, but M. Night Shyamalan once said, "You have to be ready to cut your favorite scene." I was shocked that seven minutes was not enough time to include most of the material that we shot. In order to keep the basic plot of Death of the Party in tact, we had to leave tons of great stuff on the cutting room floor. One example was probably my favorite bit that we shot, but since it was really only strengthening a plot point we were already establishing, we had to drop it. Oh well... there's always the director's cut.

Not pictured: Super-Arjun

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