Second Chances - The Journey of a Short Film
Second Chances is a short film that gathered the talents of a handful of Phoenix artisans to complete an original creation in a matter of a few weeks.
With completed script in hand, screenwriter Mark Greenawalt assembled a cast of three and a crew of two and the following weekend the filming was started and completed in a 14-hour marathon.
A week later the editor, Webb Pickersgill had completed the three-minute version for entry into a Phoenix Film Project
Greenawalt, more renown for his body painting art form at events and photo shoots, had made a concerted effort to make a shift into the special effects make-up for movies.
This desire led him to stir up a film project for the graphic novel series,
The Villikon Chronicles where he first met Webb Pickersgill. Webb had recently gone full time into the film production business with his company
Bassline Digital and had a proven track record with his short fan film, “Spirits of the Force”.
While the Villikon project was passed on to the editing department, Mark and Webb found themselves with a little time on their hands and looming deadline for a film contest. It would have been really easy to say that it was too late to get started on a project and meet
the deadline with a quality project, but Mark, the eternal optimist decided to trudge forward.
The genre was to be horror and/or sci-fi and the length was to be 3 minutes, including credits.
The concept of the film had been percolating while Mark listened to books-on-tape to and from work that ranged from Anne Rice vampire novels to the first four books of the new testament.
Then while his family was vacationing back east and he sat alone on a Saturday afternoon watching the the
Phoenix Film Project's Screen Wars competition on television, the desire became overwhelming and his first script was born.
That same Saturday night, Webb is taking a break from another film project that is a week away from being complete and he checks his e-mail.
Oh boy, he thought, here comes Mark with another backyard monster movie.
After reading through the script he decided that this was a project that he wanted to sink his teeth into.
The twist at the end completely took him by surprise and he was immediately rehearsing the camera
angles mentally and thinking through the lighting and equipment requirements for “his” next project.
That very evening, actors Shane Stevens and Kevin O’Connor both were sent copies of the script with invitations to join in on the fun.
Ironically, Mark had originally visualized them in the opposite roles, but after a quick re-write of tense and viewpoint, they were given their respective roles for the film.
Both Mark and Webb were hopeful that Shane and Kevin would do the project due to the fact that we were all acquainted with each other through various science fiction projects.
In fact, Shane had also been involved in the Villikon project and Kevin was involved in several of the conventions that they attended.
As good fortune would have it, they both readily accepted the challenge and agreed to take part in the movie.
The date for filming was set. It would be Saturday, exactly one week from the conception of the script.
Everyone was available, including the original actress cast to play the part of Jasmine.
Fate stepped in, however, and on Saturday morning she found out that she would not be able to take part in the project.
Again, fate stepped in and with a phone call to actress/model Kayla Rei the part was once again occupied.
It was 2:00 pm when Kayla agreed to shoot the movie at 4:00 pm, a mere two hours from even hearing of the project.
The film set was Greenawalt’s living room, back yard, and 120-degree garage.
The sweat that you see in the film was not a special effect glycerin spray, it was the real deal.
Mark had just ripped up the carpet in the living room to install the laminate flooring seen in the movie and the old carpet came in handy as a prominent prop before it was later discarded.
Other props that found their way into the film included the bottle of Jack Daniels that just happened to be on-hand, a table with decorations used in a previous
sushi” project, and candles that Webb confiscated from his home.
The entire crew was comprised of Webb and Mark (with a hand from time to time from the cast).
While Webb unleashed his arsenal of film equipment, cameras, and lights, Mark stayed occupied working on the special effects to be incorporated into the film.
All the while the actors rehearsed their lines before embarking on the 14-hour movie making marathon.
There was one break when the craft services department (Mark’s wife) announced that the wings and the pizza were ready.
At the first sign of morning light, the last scene was being filmed.
That well earned phrase, “It’s a wrap” was music to everyone’s ears.
For although everyone had a great time making the movie there were strong reasons to be heading for home such as sleep, significant others, and again, more sleep.
Somehow Webb found the energy to have a first pass edit done on the film by Sunday evening.
The good news was that the film looked great, the bad news was that it was over 6 minutes long.
The film was now in Webb’s hands to complete the editing process and shave half of the movie away to meet the requirements for the competition.
Also on his to-do list were adding the sound track scoring, creating the computer-generated special effects, and tweaking everything around for a cohesive end product.
Shane was asked to re-record the voice over at the beginning to replace the line about tequila to a line about whiskey since the film was showing a bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey.
Within a week’s time, the editing process was complete.
Thus began the promotion of the film which included the writing of the press kit, the creation of a website, and the submission of the film to film festivals, local screenings, and science fiction conventions.
It was a wild ride to complete the project in approximately two weeks and with a budget of about $150.
It was a talented group of true believers that brought the project to life.