We need to talk about Worcester FilmWars. 72 hours to make a short film, what? Wait – YES!
When I heard about Worcester Film Wars I got really excited – there’s always been a little part of me that wanted to do a fast and furious film festival entry. I’m the kind of person who likes to binge-do stuff – get the ducks sorted and then just, you know, plow though the project.* Stuff like the Choreofest that Carolyn Jepsen let us all peek into last month as she catalogued it in pictures, gets me weak in the knees. I love watching that kind of super fast collaborative thing, and I have loved the idea of being part of one even more. So when Grime announced that they were putting this together, I wanted in like whoa.**
Best thing about this filmy business? Working with people I love. Jenith Charpentier & I had worked on proof-of-concept film for Rabbit Heart all the way back in the beginning and it was a total treat, so I was absolutely stoked to work with her again on filmstuff. April Desmond & I have worked on a variety of projects from layout to raiding and enjoyed the process deeply – and, sister, her eye for the camera o! o! o! We rounded out our team with Will Dearest, who, you know, I like just a little bit,*** and April’s hubby, Ted, also wonderful, whom we didn’t even know would be available until a few days before – bonus! See what happened there? Four Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival judges and the producer – oh, hello, no doubt we’re making a poetryfilm.
What you’re looking at here are five Very Busy People – we started a Facebook message thread and then kinda forgot about things until the prop swap a week later, because, well, life. Teenagers, dogs, work, impending business trips, one impending wedding, groceries – alla that nosed in. Will had a doctor’s appointment on Friday morning to have some cardiac pictures taken and would be guaranteed loopy until at least noon, so we decided to start shooting on Friday at 2.
Jenith lent her poem, Alice’s Lament, already recorded and ready to go. She also brought some teenagers to the table, which was wonderful, as all the adults involved are all a little camera shy. At the last minute Our Man Cub walked in the door to round out our cast – whom we would have for roughly 2 hours.
We shot while we had light: our teens were AMAZEBALLS in their roles. April & Ted & Bill shot in one room while Jenith & I dressed sets for the next scene in another room. Rinse and repeat. Then Jenith had to go, so I worked with mixing sound while the folks with the camera shot the footage we needed that didn’t have actors in them. The next morning I sat down with Windows Movie Maker and our footage and sound files, and started the cutting and moving around while April made our leader and credits in PowerPoint at her place. We swapped files, and I uploaded drafts to a passworded Vimeo account that we could all look at. Somewhere around six o’clock Saturday night,† BOOM we had a (poetry)film.
All this to say, OMG, GUISE, WE MADE A MOVIE IN JUST OVER 24 HOURS! And I’m wicked proud of us, y’all.
And here’s what I’m left with: Big Gratitude. The sweaty, sloppy kind, even. I’m filled right up with it.
As producer at Rabbit Heart, I hear from filmmakers, especially new filmmakers who had previously only thought of themselves as strictly poets, that the festival gave them a reason to make their film, that it inspired them to dig into the work. And now I know exactly what they meant – for me, FilmWars put the fire under my butt that might not have been there otherwise. I’ve been picking at another poetryfilm project for a month now that might take me another month to complete, but this one got done tout suite – we had a deadline to greet, and a sense of purpose that didn’t allow for overthinking, nit-picking, or fucking around. All because we wanted to be part of the game. So big props to Grime for making FilmWars happen here on Worcester turf and letting us onto the pitch.
I’m also immensely grateful to have been part of a team that rose to the occasion. At the screening party Sunday night, I sat with them as we watched the films, and I felt warm and full, and well taken care of in the way that only collaboration with close friends can warm and fill. To tell you that I am constantly inspired by my circle of friends is an understatement, and here was a concrete illustration of that inspiration, right beside me in camp chairs under the glow of the projector and diner sign lights.
Sometimes when things get stressful, I think back to a moment I had a few years ago when I was working two little jobs and had an opportunity to do a poetry gig on Nantucket Island, and I said out loud, “I love my life,” and I take stock and make comparisons.†† Sunday night, heading home from the screening party, I had a bit of that moment creep up on me again. Yes, things are stressful, and yes, there’s work to do, and yes, money is, frankly, ridiculous, but yes, this is a life worth living and loving, and I just had that shown to me in full technicolor, big screen and all.
As if the Universe pointed a finger in our direction and said, “Yes.”
*Also, this can be applied to various “research” projects that I get myself into. Let’s not even talk about the current Buffy fiasco. Generally I try to pair those things with some kind of textile project, tho’.
**Because a month to Rabbit Heart I just don’t have enough on my plate, amirite?
***Married 20 years last June. Sometimes I’m amazed – I can’t think of anything else I’ve done for 20 years. Ok, that sounded racier than I imagined it would…
†We started with a 2-minute sound file, but we needed 3-7 minutes of film, right? In a fit of desperation to reach the 3-minute mark, I grabbed some footage off my phone that was just a different angle of stuff April had set up and Ted had shot.
††Some of which are even fair.