The Somewhat Rapid Movie Project was a second attempt by Gracie's Bird Cage to make a movie in a short time, with a small budget and with a decentralized, communal approach to decision making. The result of this project was Do You Copy?, and since the plot and action of the movie have already been covered, I will just write about the process of making it.
The previous project had been The 48 Hour Movie, Rotating Food. While this movie was very fun to make, many of the makers, as well as the viewers, felt it could have been better with a little more continuity and coherence, due to the fact that a great deal of the plotting of the movie was added in editing, after the movie had actually been shot. However, it was just as well that we attempted to make a movie in 48 hours, because when it came time to make a movie in 3 weeks, it seemed that we had loads of time to kill.
As opposed to the first movie project, where someone doing something wacky in front of a camcorder was considered to be Grade A material, the SRMP featured such boring technical details of movie making as blocking, lighting, multiple camera angles and even multiple takes. For every minute of onscreen wackiness, there was about five to ten minutes of discussing and adjusting the right lighting and angles for the shot. I've heard that Hollywood movies consist if a lot of standing around, waiting for technical details to be settled. Since we were spending a lot of time on that on our much more hurried picture, I fully believe these stories now. These circumstances made acting a little more challenging. Although acting did not become a chore, it did become a job. While acting wacky may be easy when the mood strikes you, it is significantly less easy to act wacky when you have been standing in the rain for ten minutes, waiting for the cameras to be adjusted. Just as fun and rewarding once the "zone" was gotten in, but not as easy to pull out.
Another problem that came up with this movie that didn't occur with the first one was the fact that since this movie was made over a period of three weeks, there was more pronounced of a division of labor. The first two days were story conferences, followed by roughly a week of shooting. followed by two weeks of editing and special effects. While the actors only had to go somewhere and act, the people who were producing, directing, editing and in general arranging things had to worry about all the details. The smallest details, such as a misplaced piece of clothing or what to eat became big logistical problems that one or two people had to decide, only to have their decisions ignored by actors running off to film a scene on a moment's whim. Some people felt that the Gracies's non-hierarchal style might need to be temporarily subsumed to a single leader. However, in the end the haphazard style won out, with a completed movie and not too many hurt feelings.
There are some other interesting things to note about the movie. After the first screening, I realized that certain parts of the movie that were very funny to me and the audience when they were being filmed weren't quite as funny on screen. The improvisational comedy that had us trying to suppress our laughter seemed totally different on screen.
But whatever the results, after one week of pressured acting in times when daylight was very short, and after two weeks of hurried editing and effects, the end result was a movie that was as good as I hoped it would be, and much better than I expected it to be. Now I can only wait for the third movie making project.