by Ruth Witteried
The second annual FiLMLaB short, Inspiration, made its debut last Friday night at the Willamette Writers Conference. Scheduled from 7-9 pm, I spent most of the hours preceding it worrying whether author Barbara Thomas would actually arrive in time for her own premier! Flying in from Dallas that afternoon, with the country on a high security travel alert, her arrival in Portland in time was nothing short of a miracle; a very stressful miracle.
But arrive she did, with her mother beside her, to witness the debut of her winning short script, meet the cast and crew that worked so diligently on her behalf, and to answer audience questions about FiLMLaB and the art of collaboration. I will leave it to Barbara to share her experience in her own words in a later guest blog. I, for one, was just glad she made it on time.
A few things we tried to keep quiet in order to preserve the element of surprise for the first audience; that the film was almost entirely in black and white, for one, and that it was silent.
Yes. Silent. As in no words. No dialogue. No lines to screw up.
When we called it Film Lab, we weren’t kidding.
Barbara will be the first to tell you that what debuted was not exactly the film she wrote; that once the collaboration began with director, set design, actors, etc.; her story became part of a collective process where her voice was not necessarily the one that won the day. Especially when producers started talking about budget.
What debuted Friday night was exactly what FiLMLaB set out to do: to introduce untested, unknown screenwriters to real world filmmaking. And thanks to the talents of stage actors Brynn Baron and Greg Alexander, this little experiment crackles with physicality and nuance. Thanks to the talents of cinematographer Eric Macey and production designer Emily Wahl, the scenes are artistically consistent and visually arresting. Thanks to the vision of director Christopher Alley, everything came together more seamlessly and beautifully than we had any right to expect. And special thanks to author Barbara Thomas, who provided the inspiration in her short script that moved FiLMLaB forward.
The film is still awaiting its final cut before it will make its way, we hope, to short film festivals, imdb, general viewing and the writers ownership. We are grateful to everyone that participated in this year’s contest, who contributed to the making of this film, and those who came out to support its debut on Friday night.Ruth Witteried is the Film Coordinator for the Willamette Writers Conference and Executive Producer of FiLMLaB. You can follow her on Facebook at FilmLab and SitYourAssDown; Twitter @sityourassdown1, or as RH Cohen on her Young Adult website zombienoel.com.