"2 wks, 1 yr" is a film that ends on New Year's Day. In reality,
Producer Carrie Holt met Writer/Director Chris McKay on New Year's Day 1999 at a brunch thrown by a mutual friend. Holt was involved in producing a short film at the time and McKay had edited several films, so the two had a lot to talk about.
Two months later, they got together for lunch when Holt asked
I had never met anyone who could actually meet me half-way and follow through on stuff, Holt recalled.
In August, the two talked about the possibility of collaborating
And then, next thing I know, hes like, OK, find me
Following the advice of filmmaker Robert Rodriquez, the two analyzed what resources they had and what plan would gel best with those resources. In McKay, they had a key: unlimited after-hours access to an Avid at McKay's job, and a lot of experience editing. In Holt they had the gift of knowing half of Chicago.
There were a couple of ideas for films McKay had, but there was one in particular that was always the most practical and attractive. He wanted to write a script about a relationship, but he wanted to capture the flattering as well as the unflattering feelings, emotions and experiences that are evoked in real life. And while a script could capture some of both, the goal was to truly duplicate the experience of being in that relationship.
Everyones been in a relationship like that, McKay said.
In September he wrote the script. While many things he wrote
I think theres a lack of freedom sometimes
His format, digital video, was also chosen with that freedom
It was very exciting for me knowing that I would get to partake in that improv in the editing suite, McKay said.
In actors and crew, McKay and Holt sought passion first and foremost. Experience was nice, but with a projected six-month weekend shooting schedule and just speculation for payment, it was going to be dedication that mattered most.
A mutual acquaintance suggested they talk to Michael Gilio, an
I also heard that he had an Avid, so I decided to go for it,
Another piece of the puzzle fell into place when Holt and McKay
While McKay was confident in his editing ability, he worried
By early December, they were all set except for a sound man,
Without a sound man, the two cast members and a crew headed down to the Big Easy on December 28. McKay, the cast and two production assistants rode in a rented van and Holt and Stearns rode with the equipment in her Explorer.
They arrived to find their hotel had suffered a fire the night
But they struck gold with locations. An Internet radio station
They had chosen New Orleans for it's festive atmosphere, and
For the time-lapse shot, McKay wanted the first minute of every
The last shot of the film takes place after the two characters
The fight scene was the next challenge. They started early Sunday morning to avoid the crowds. A couple of people stopped and checked to make sure it was not real. Chris both directed and acted as boom operator for that scene.
Back in Chicago, the film took a three-week break while Chris
Turning lemons into lemonade, he also used the extending shooting schedule which they quickly realized was going to take more than six months into an advantage. The time spread gave him the chance to show the couple over the course of the year in different seasons and moods.
They also brought on board a sound man, Robert Aguilar, who was short on experience, but rich in technical knowledge via his degree at Columbia College film school. And they gained some unlikely P.A. replacements. Carrie twisted the arm of an old college friend, Rob Olmstead, who had absolutely no film experience whatsoever. Olmstead, an editor at a local newspaper, was planning to produce a film with another filmmaker friend, but wanted to gain some experience elsewhere before jumping in headfirst on his own.
"I figured Id screw up somebody else's film before producing
Carrie also enlisted the help of her good friend Erin Fahey,
I had no clue (what I was in for). And you know what, she (Holt)
But, thats exactly what it turned into as Fahey gradually took
As reliable crew members came aboard, McKay began to hit his stride directing.
Playing on the improvisational strength of
He also would tell the actors the intention of the scene, and
Wed have beats that wed hit in the scene, but whatever
The approach was challenging for Gilio, but one that he came
The script was truly a blueprint, an outline for us to embellish
But while it was sometimes frustrating, the added work on Gilios part became rewarding as he put his personal experiences into the film and began to own the role.
It wasnt so much about performance as it was about living,
I learned a lot about myself, says Gilio. It was very challenging.
In the end, says Gilio, he found the experience so rewarding
I found I work best when Im being trusted and being given
And how did Holt feel about the unique approach?
I didnt always understand why he (McKay) was doing things the way he did, admits Holt. But by watching how he worked with actors in rehearsal, I knew there was a method to the madness.
He can really read people really, really well. I have a lot
And he always lets me have a voice and he always listens, even though he might be exhausted, says Holt.
The free form of the production, however, extended the shooting period of the film.
That long shoot, in turn, provided plenty of scheduling problems as secondary actors married, moved away and disappeared into the mist. The schedule had to be redone several times, and scenes adjusted as snow melted and then fell again, ruining continuity.
Since they had to eat, Gilio and Shields occasionally had to
But while the schedule threw up roadblocks, the camaraderie and dedication of those involved worked the other way, smoothing problems and building upon each others strengths to enhance the film and other separate projects. McKay, Holt, Fahey and Stearns provided locations in which to shoot. Holt's connections to two neighborhood bars provided tavern locations. Her friend provided the location for the Halloween party, and another friend, Howard Watkins, Jr. (aka, the Black Bear) cooked the vegetarian chili for the party. Everyone brought friends to the shoot, telling them there was free beer and food as long as they would show up in costume and sign a waiver. Stearns brought in lighting experts he knew who donated their time. McKay brought in an assistant director he knew for one particularly complicated scene.
Once, at a café secured through employees working there, the
McKay and Gilio became fast friends, and after shooting on 2
Through Gilio, McKay and Holt also met Craig Lee, who became their sound designer. After shooting was done, for eight months the three worked together on the sound design and soundtrack, with Holt searching out mostly Chicago artists for the music while Chris edited, re-edited and re-re-edited the film until they had a final product.
So did it turn out like Holt expected?
No. Not at all. I mean, yes and no. Honestly, I didnt think
We didnt need spec effects, we didnt need a huge crew it just seemed like the perfect fit for our first feature.
And with film festival deadlines looming, Carrie is as busy as
Thats another thing that I learned, is that this process