Looking Back, The Process

The Process - THIS/NEXT/LAST TIME Part I

"The Process" is a series of entires where I'll talk though the hurdles and joys of projects I've worked on. This entry is the first in a series covering the production of "THIS/NEXT/LAST TIME".


As with most things, it started with an idea. Actually, it started with an event — she left. The girl I was in love with just up and moved to another city and I was in emotional turmoil. I didn't know how to process it, but I needed to write.

Lucky for me, my writing partner Christopher M. Hernandez knew exactly what I was going through. As gentlemen of a similar disposition, we had both been in situation where we'd been placed — or willingly walked in to — the dreaded "Friend Zone" (something we would later refer to as being "an emotional Teddy Bear"). So we gathered our collective experiences and started to type.

At that time, Chris and I were unfortunately separated by an international border so our writing took place in the form of drafts sent back and forth via email. We would then jump on Skype and discuss before heading back for another round of writing. The process was rather quick, and within a few weeks we had a draft we could work with.

The story was simple: A man and his best friend attend a going away party for the girl he loves (but has not told) and hijinks ensue. The 20-page script, coded with the working title PROJECT STEVEhad 4 speaking roles; the two men, the girl, Erin, and a loveable doofus named Jim. We made plans to shoot in 2 months later, when Chris would be in town on a weekend visit.

Our biggest priority was getting the right cast to pull it off. Quickly it was decided that for sake of simplicity, Chris and I would take the lead roles (which were at that time named after ourselves anyways) and we would set-up auditions for the other two roles. 

The first major hurdle in this plan was one of time. We had enlisted our good friend Jon "Bobcat" Cairns to help produce the film, but he was living and working in Vancouver which left me as the sole individual in Victoria to get things ready for the shoot - and I was incredibly busy. 

Added to the casting dilemma, I began to worry about the script. Not the content — the length. We had planned to shoot this over the course of two days at the most, and there was 20-pages of practically all dialogue with four characters who needed coverage. Plus, we'd need to call in a lot of background artists, and we weren't sure who our crew would be yet. With only a few weeks before Chris arrived, I called him and proposed we make it easier on ourselves but adjusting the script. 

Chris maintained throughout the whole production that the first script was better and in hindsight, he is probably right. A lot of story issues we fought with in post-production were introduced in this new version, which saw role of Erin diminished to unspeaking (so we wouldn't have to rehearse an actress) and the role of Jim removed completely.

However, the biggest change when re-writing the film was to add time-jumps - in essence take what was originally one conversation on a single night and turn it into one conversation spanning several years. Half the film now took place outside in an alley, half took place inside the bar - the idea being that half the movie would no longer require extensive background artists, and we could use two locations if need be.

What we didn't know at the time was the addition of those time jumps actually ended up saving the film from never being completed, after an unexpected wind storm ripped though our location, completely derailed our shoot.

But more on that tomorrow.