Monday, June 1, 2009

Making the Netflix Short

From "Save the Future" Titles by Jia Lia

Being selected as a semi-finalist for the Netflix FIND Your Voice Competition was kind of easy compared to the challenge that came next: create a 2-3 minute short that "powerfully conveys your vision for the [feature-length] film". This could be anything, the contest admins maintained - a scene from the feature, a trailer, or "a self-contained short with thematic ties to the feature." In four weeks. For public voting on a website with 8+ million subscribers. Not intimidating at all.

We assigned ourselves the task of creating a provocative short that would grab your attention and leave you with a sense of mystery. SAVE THE FUTURE was finished last Friday and will premiere June 5 at But what the hell is it about, and how did we get it done in four weeks?

Kristin, Cora, Jen and I decided to limit the script to one character from the feature, in order to cut down on casting time. Luckily, Perla Haney-Jardine, a 12-year-old actress we'd been in talks with for playing Laduree, was interested in coming on board for the short, and her family (filmmakers Jennifer MacDonald and Chusy Haney-Jardine) graciously invited us to shoot it in their hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. FUTURE WEATHER takes place in a rural setting, so after researching Asheville (a small, eclectic city tucked in the Blue Ridge Mountains) and watching scenes from Perla's parent's feature, ANYWHERE U.S.A., I knew this area would provide the right milieu for our short.

With one week for prep + shooting and one week for editing, I had one week to develop a script. I started with two basic sketches - both exploring Laduree's life before the feature begins - and we picked one to develop. It was the more high-concept of the two, so I went through eight drafts before shooting and also rewrote it a bit during shooting and editing. It's called SAVE THE FUTURE, and while it contains a few motifs you'll find in the feature, it's a slightly more stylized, and frankly, commercial (in service of the concept, you'll see) depiction of Laduree's crux: her fear of environmental apocalypse as a stand-in for her absentee mom.

With our two central characters (Laduree and Asheville) established, Kristin and I drove down to North Carolina on May 13 for two days of pre-production and two days of production. The photos that follow are highlights from our trip, location scout and shoot. It was an experience we'll never forget. We hope you enjoy the show!

And don't forget: your votes can propel FUTURE WEATHER to the big screen. Slap us five stars June 5th at

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