Fly Filmmaking

Three short movies in one short week.

SIFF NOT ONLY presents over 250 films in its month-long run, it produces a few as well. The annual Fly Filmmaking program invites three directors to write, shoot, and show one short film each under tough conditions—a limit of 22 minutes of film stock using minimal crew and equipment within a period of six days. The goal is to stretch the boundaries of the craft by tapping into creative resources rather than checkbooks. To highlight new technologies available to independent filmmakers, the shoots will be on digital video, High Definition, and Super 16mm film. Accepting the challenge are Clay Eide (Dead Dogs), Jim Taylor (Election), and Meg Richman (who replaced director Mary Kurlya at the 11th hour but is directing Kurlya’s script).

Fly Filmmaking Saturday, 6/10 at Cinerama (4pm)

The Super 16 shoot’s first location is West Seattle’s Lincoln Park. The crew moves briskly, reflecting the noonday sun into movie light with c-stands and flags while keeping onlookers with their Coleman coolers and Corgis from walking through the shot. The crew’s delayed only by a continuous wash of airplane noise, the bane of a soundperson’s existence. “Commercial shoots go just as fast,” says the film’s producer, Tony Grob. “The only difference is no money. I can’t pay for extra equipment—no cranes, no dollies. We have to invent alternatives.” One entails hoisting the camera 30 feet up while the cameraperson balances on a tree limb and a ladder to get a (very) high-angle shot. “This is definitely the most contorted shot of the day,” says director Richman (Under Heaven), but not the most difficult. “The acting is what I’m most concerned about.” With the miniscule shooting ratio, there is no room for error. The performers, who were cast just a day earlier, dive headfirst into the ground and deliver their lines without a hitch. “It puts pressure on you,” says actor Craig Welzbacher, “but it’s also a lot of fun.”

This year’s Fly Films will be shown in High Definition on the big screen of the Cinerama, pushing the parameters of film projection and offering a chance to experience intimate narrative stories in this highly touted but rarely seen format; HD’s generally been limited to newscasts and helicopter-cam travelogues. “It’s really amazing how crisp it is,” says Fly Filmmaking coordinator George Shockley. “We won’t be seeing projection like this again until Star Wars Episode 2.”

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