Last summer, in late July, I called my partner Trina and asked her if she wanted to make a movie with me. I had been out of film school for almost two years and hadn’t tackled anything narrative in that time, and I was getting pretty sick of not making movies. The night before I had watched Joe Swanberg’s Nights And Weekends, a movie made for basically nothing on a digital camera about three generations worse than the one sitting in my bedroom. And I thought: look, we could do that, doing that would be so much better than doing nothing. As I said to Trina: even if it ends up being horrible, we’ll at least have a nice record of our summer. Six months later, our little movie, Cities And Plains, was named the year’s Outstanding Short Narrative Film by the Film And Video Arts Society – Alberta.
For me, this movie was about unlearning everything I learned at film school about the process of filmmaking. We would only ever have one crew member, the camera operator, Aerlan. I would hit record on the sound recorder and then go act in the scene. Sometimes Aerlan wasn’t even there and I would hit record on the sound recorder, then hit record on the camera, and then go act in the scene. We didn’t have a script at all, beyond general outlines of the action – the scenes were improvised.
We are by no means the first people to make a movie this way. But for me, it was a very necessary step and helped me get over a pretty serious hump of not making movies. I’m really, really glad we made it, and in a way I’m also glad it didn’t get into any of the festivals I applied to (more on that later, maybe). I feel like the best way to share this movie, this milestone, is by putting it here on the web for everyone to enjoy at their own discretion. Every movie I ever make will owe something to this little slice-of-life, made for almost nothing, in late summer, 2012.
I hope you enjoy our little movie. We sure like it.
Until next time.
Dylan – Edmonton, AB