Friday, April 25, 2008

PROJECT, Resurrected

I dug out the hard drive with the 1" master tape transfer of my first feature, PROJECT, made over 20 years ago as a junior & senior in high school. I drafted a bunch of my theater buddies and the woman who would become my wife, and we set about shooting a 70-minute supernatural thriller over summer vacation. High-end consumer video was a relative novelty in 1985, and we put a lot of effort into it. Director of Photography Mark Allen would go on to many many film and television credits, as would Scott Benton and Patrick Loungway. Lori Halloran would become a PBS producer, Konrad Aderer would become a professional actor & filmmaker, Jon Burnett and Mark Hughes (now Mezadourian) would go pro with acting and directing, Carole Honeychurch (as Anna, pictured) would write self-help books and be involved with comedy improv. Many of us would have families of our own, and diverse careers. Of course, three people featured on-screen would eventually die of cancer (Sam, Natasha and my dad). But it's a great snapshot in time. What our house looked like, the fashion... fun stuff.

The film would be the first project produced by Exposed Films (subsidiary of Pelican Productions), the company David Beach and I founded after high school. It would be my first public airing on television, and would be the first newspaper interview (Palo Alto Weekly). My dad invested the completion funds, a whopping $2200 in 1986 money, out of the total $3000 production budget.

So I dusted off the transfer and began to clean it up. Corrected a few shots in terms of color or brightness, trimmed off some bad edits, shortened an unnecessarily long sequence, and replaced a bunch of unlicensed music with stuff I found on cassette by the composer of the original score (Mark Allen's older brother, Sean). The opening credits were grainy and full of video drop-outs, so I replaced them with new ones. The end credits were wildly ignorant of what jobs people actually did, so I fixed them too. Of course, the video shows two decades of wear, and the fact that the master survived the fire of 2006 in its plastic industrial shell case could not have helped any. And there was no sound design to speak of (and Dolby surround what?). But while there are obvious faults with a film made by a handful of teens in the mid '80s, what's remarkable is how many good shots, good moments and good ideas there are. We were ambitious little shits, for sure.

I had planned to put together a 20th anniversary DVD for as many of the cast and crew as I could track down, but the fire delayed it. Two years late isn't too bad, I guess.

No comments: