The Making of “STONER WITCHES” (Premiering Tonight!)

In 2013, I made my first film with my friend Matthew Mendull. It was a short advertisement for an appearance I was making at the Pehrspace in L.A. in February of that year. It took Matt and I two days to finish shooting it. One evening to gather a few friends together and do a brief scripted rip off of Revenge of the Nerds and an afternoon to walk around and grab musical montage shoots. When Matt had completed the editing I was amazed that I had made a film.

The bug had bit me and three months later Matt and I tried to make a trailer for Kevin John Wesley and I’s film idea, “Hitler High: Pandora’s Bong”. It was an ambitious affair compared to our first attempt. We made a graveyard set in Matt’s basement, filmed in multiple location throughout Denvver and Golden, hired Nate Hayden (creator of Cave Evil) to create some gory special effects, and dragged a group of 10 people around for two days.

And, in the end we didn’t end up with the film we had wanted. We made minor mistakes in our filming which left the narrative a bit muddled and our post-production process wasn’t too great so in the end, our “trailer” became a short Cinéma vérité style documentary of our attempt instead. (you can watch it here!)

And for some reason this failure to produce the desired end result left me wanting more so in the Fall of 2013 I began writing a short film. By the Spring of 2014 I had completed a 20 page script, convinced five of my friends to act in it, found a costume and makeup person and even found a local filmmaker (who had even made two feature length documentaries) to handle all of the cinematography and editing. Rehearsals were done for three weeks and filming was scheduled months in advance.

On the first day of shooting in the Summer of 2014, one of the main actors didn’t show up. We rescheduled a few weeks later but then our local filmmaker (the only one of us who owned a camera and knew how to edit film) suddenly enrolled in graduate school and that film was never completed. I was totally bummed and after all of that logistical work to get this thing together I was also extremely frustrated.

For three months I searched around for someone else with experience, good taste and a camera to no avail. A few weeks after that I was lamenting that I’d never be able to make a film again because I could never afford a camera that could produce screen worthy images when I discovered cheap HD camcorders on eBay. Both Matt and the other filmmaker I’d worked with had fancy cameras with costs way outside of my budget. I would never be able to invest in a DSLR or something better but I could afford an HD camcorder which wasn’t great but did produce something good enough.

In November 2014 I began writing a script. Using what I had learned over the last year I wrote a short one with minimal casting and production needs to try to achieve something that I could realistically shoot and edit myself. Then I found a trustworthy friend to act in it with me and over the course of the next 10 months we’d get together, rehearse and slowly film what scenes we could. Even then, I had to accept the fact that the end result would probably not match the vision in my head.

Even then, the filming didn’t work out as planned. People’s schedules never matched up with other people’s schedules, it rained on a night when we were to shoot under the moonlight, I accidentally forgot the microphones…..but, this time in the end I had enough good footage to edit down. This time, I would be able to finish a film.

On October 3 (the day before my 44th birthday) we finished filming and I began editing two days later. A day into, it I realized I needed more coverage for certain shots so I did more filming and then began editing again.

Even today, the night the film premieres, I’m still editing but more importantly, the film has turned out pretty darn good. It has its beginner’s mistakes but overall, it ended up way better than I had expected and in my head I’m already begun planning the next one.

Come down to Glob tonight at 9:00PM and see my first short film, “STONER WITCHES” starring Jim Compton, Colin Blount, Justin Loski and myself with directorial assistance provided by Amie Rau and Joel Spencer.

Really, I think you’re going to be amazed.

The graveyard set for Hitler High: Pandora's Bong

The graveyard set for Hitler High: Pandora’s Bong