“Baby Boy” is my greatest failure. I have never been so absolutely disappointed in a film I have made. Save for the slightly funny improv dialogue, nothing translated well onto the screen, and the production itself was hellish.
Although it is a pitiful failure on nearly all levels, it is also the reason I am a filmmaker today. Looking back on its miserable existence, I have learned more from the production of this film than I have from any of my “successful” films. Let’s begin.
For context, I was a senior in high school at this time. My film class group just came off a high with our first film, Ein Sauger Fur Papa, and were hyped to get on with the next one. Zach (the lead actor in the film with glasses) says we should make a film about a man who is impregnated by an unseen force then gives birth to the creature. At the time, I thought it was a funny idea. There would be an element of mystery, with the impregnating force being unknown and his girlfriend going insane, it would be funny for the nu-male lead to get slapped around dealing with the problems of his unfortunate life.
The script came together great, and the two lead actors had such great chemistry that they ad-libbed nearly all the dialogue.
But, two other girls joined the group. At the time, not a problem. To me, just more help, which is always good.
Promises and hopes were high, “This is going to get into a festival!”
The first day shooting, we went to a local record store to film the first scene. We got the shots, the actors worked well and the end result was a funny opening scene. Unfortunately, this was the only day which went smoothly.
From here on out, shooting became an absolute nightmare. People became reluctant to shoot scenes during class, (we got two hours a period at my high school) and they would leave class and go get food instead for the whole period. On the weekends where we had to cram in shooting, we were dealing with limited schedule availibility and unfocused attitudes on the set. One of the that joined ended up being the female lead and while her performance was incredible, so was her unwillingness to work. Thus, the production was
I guess the feminine mystique. swayed my friends to the point where they became nearly impossible to work with.
One specific day, Zach, Gus (the second lead actor) and I went to a parking lot to shoot some dialogue. This scene was very important to the story as it set up a conflict in the next scene. Three of our crew members did not show up, at all. Thus, I had to deal with both the camera and audio. Cramming the boom mic up above them, I was able to adapt.
During this time, I was trying to edit the film as best as I could. Due to my own inexperience, I had a hard time syncing the audio to the video, and thus certain parts are comically out of sync in the final product.
Shown below, here is the final product.
I never worked with my crew the rest of the year. I spent the rest of the year trying to write a script I had no motivation for. Eventually ended the year with a fun little film called “7 Reasons To Not”. It is by no means a work of art, but it is entertaining. I will upload it at some point.
Learning From The Past
Even though, as shown, this was a complete shit show, this production shaped me. I looked at the production holistically and realized I needed to own up for a large majority of the problems. After the fact, I realized my lack of assertiveness in terms of pushing to shoot during class and keeping the crew focused heavily led to the film to flounder.
My decision to become a recluse in the editing room and exhibit passive-agressive behavior no doubt led to some heightened crew conflicts. This most likely led to satisfaction in the others in rebelling against shooting during class and overall probably killed the vibe.
The day in the parking lot taught me how to adapt when multiple roles are placed on my back. Learning to deal with both the camera and mic at the same time is an incredibly useful skill to have when shooting with a small crew.