“F-3” (my first feature film)
I was approaching 30 years old and living in Las Vegas, NV teaching at The Art Institute. This job was a Godsend at the time since the only work I had before that out there was working as a lifeguard at a health club for the old, rich and unhappy. After baking in the sun for a few years praying to the film gods to relieve me from my suffering, I happened upon an adjunct position at The Art Institute of Las Vegas by pure accident. I was actually interested in learning CGI at the time and then after meeting some folks there I thought to myself, “Man, I can teach most of these courses!”. I was invited to apply and after a fairly easy interview and presentation I got an adjunct position. I was very impressed with the facilities there and the encouraging atmosphere to learn. One of the many perks of this job besides no state taxes was the fact that I got to check out any equipment that I wanted. I loved the Panasonic DVX100!!! By far one of the best video cameras I’ve ever used up to that point. I loved it so much, I bought one.
The time had come for me to create a feature film. For some reason I had this strong voice in the back of my head screaming at me to make a feature film by the time I am 30. I asked several of my students for their help and they were all very enthusiastic about a chance to go out and work on a low budget movie… without a script… sort of made up as I went along… sigh.
Let me backtrack just a little bit. You see when I first began checking out the DVX from the equipment room I would just take it home and shoot obscure angles all around my apartment. The images impressed me so much that I thought to myself, “I think I have all I need to make my own film.” and it just ballooned from there.
I had many incredible shoots out in the NV desert surrounding the city. Some of those areas are now completely paved over. Yesterday a wasteland; today a shopping mall, casino and hotel. Vegas was like a forever growing protoplasmic creature of lights devouring the desert. You could literally sit on your porch at night and watch it grow.
I would usually get 5-10 eager folks dying to create, decked out in equipment and ready to rock. We had a great time and it was an incredible learning experience for us all. I will be forever grateful to those that helped me on this film. When I think of all the people who got involved in this and the process I went through I almost can’t believe it.
After a year of teaching and shooting scenes for what soon became titled “F-3” I left the West to go back to my homeland; the mountains of Western North Carolina. I have traveled and lived in many places, but my heart is rooted into the ground deep in the heart of Appalachia. I have always felt it was important for me to make films there beyond any rational thought.
I continued to whittle away at an edit of F-3 while I began teaching for a year at the school I got my MFA from, UNCGreensboro. When the year was up I went to my parents’ home and lived there for 2 years (I hadn’t been back home to live long term since I was 17 and now I was in my early 30’s). There I worked at getting my head straight while I slowly built the mountain range from Hell that appears at the end of the movie. I made them out of everything I could stick together and spray paint. All sorts of stuff, such at 10K in ceramic doll parts donated to me by a very great friend. I made a poor makeshift greenscreen and began shooting SFX plates that I stitched together Using Photoshop to create the matte paintings and then compositing them in Final Cut Pro 7 and After Effects.
The end result was beyond anything that I could have preconceived. I had created a psychedelic, sub-conscious horror film. It was a long journey that at times, I didn’t know if I would finish or not.
“F-3” Pinterest gallery: (Here you can find stills from the movie as well as pictures highlighting the process of building the mountain range from Hell)