My First Film, When John Cleese Backed Out.

Several years ago I become consumed with film writing. After several interviews of anyone semi successful around me, I basically received the same advice from everyone. Just create. Make something. Pull whatever you can together and just do it, and keep doing it. The advice also included submitting your stuff to as many film festivals as you can.

I am an idiot. I took this advice to heart, but for some reason – maybe call it my background as a poor only child from a single parent home with some need to validate myself or whatever – but I felt I needed a big name involved with my first short. It is a comedy piece, but also should make people think a bit. The whole thing is narrated. So I picked my top five favorite comedians that I thought would do a good job at narration, and I tried to reach out to them.

At the top of my list: John Cleese.

John_Cleese_2008_bigger_crop
I am an ultimate Monty Python fan. It’s a long long story, and I have the whole thing written out somewhere, but I’ll summarize for today in saying that John agreed. It was a very exciting moment. I assumed this meant I had found my destiny. Well, after many discussions with agents and lawyers, John backed out. I was not Hollywood enough. In the period of 7 months I went from an ultimate creative high, thinking I was going to work with a comedy god and someone I really admire, to an ultimate low. I then got a bit pissed off, but also realized that it was dumb to need a big name to validate anything. Though it is still nice to think that John Cleese assured me he liked the script but bureaucracy got in the way. So I wrote something else. It is not a comedy, again because I was in a bit of a low place. I have a masters degree in marriage and family therapy, and through those studies I learned about professional burn out. Basically when a therapist doesn’t have his own crap in check for whatever reason, and they start becoming more of a detriment to their clients than helping them. Ultimately a counselor may end up needing counseling themselves, which is an ironic, sad, and kind of funny outcome.

So – I wrote a piece about that. I took all the advice I had received: I pulled together some friends and acquaintances, and made my first short film Burn Out. It was truly a wonderful experience. Elwon Bakly and Mitch Hall are phenomenal actors. The energy in the room with these guys was so thick I was breathing it in. It is such an amazing feeling to be there on a set, and feel like the words you wrote are coming to life, but also that it’s a real circumstance and you are just a ghost in the room watching. So cool.I am really proud of this film for my first effort. We finished this thing years ago, but I have not released it until now. Primarily because there are some things about it that really suck. Above all, I learned what all film makers must learn, which is the importance of killer audio. I really wish that we had lined up some better audio for this video. I have thought about doing ADR (automated dialog replacement) but it has not panned out.

Since shooting this film I have gone on to be apart of many other projects, and I have many more things in the works. But for now, I figured it was time to dust this off and show it to the world. Thanks so much Clark, Elwon, Mitch, Aaron, Sid, and the hot secretary for this great experience! Check it out here: https://vimeo.com/233698458

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6 comments

  1. Wow!! I wish I knew someone in my sphere of influence (which includes a grumpy old man, about 15 widows/divorcee’s and various non-cool relics, kids that are too busy with careers and their kids and a few creepy crawly critters) because you as a person, and you as everything else you do, are absolutely astounding!!! I LOVED! Burn Out. It was true to life–complex, shocking and kinda funny at the end…

  2. This makes me both very happy (that you’re putting it out for people to see) and very sad…because that bad audio is at least partially my fault. 😦 I guess we’ve both come a long way since this short. I still wish we could re-shoot it with what we know now. This is one of my favorite projects I’ve ever gotten to work on. And you’re right, the atmosphere in that room was awesome. Mitch and Elwon were killing it. Maybe if enough people see this version we can find the resources to either re-shoot it and give it the production value that the superb script and acting deserve.

    1. Agreed on all points. Or maybe it becomes a feature someday… Though I would probably have to turn it into a comedy. Don’t know if I have the drama chops to do more than 10 mins of this kind of stuff. 🙂

  3. When you get the top pro crew….. even though the details are still your responsibility, you won’t have to worry about them. What is important now is that you have created something of merit that shows great promise. As most artists must do,… you create, you learn and then you create some more.

    But it is obvious to me that, given the opportunities ( and getting them is part of the talent), you will become very successful in this art form.

    So very well done on many levels.

    Congratulations

    Terry McManus

    1. Thank you Terry! I am passionate about it, that’s for sure. Thank you for the taking the time to check it out, and for your kind remarks.

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