Casablanca: finally, the story comes to life

I can now certify that Casablanca is far and away the most fun film I have ever shot. Those familiar with previous student films I've shot may think this a small feat: When one thinks of [Let go], one doesn't think of a carefree tale of adventure and excitement. One thinks of a guy sitting in a car in the cold talking to a dead girl. Woo.

But we had loads of fun shooting [Let go], despite the cold, and the harsh subject matter, and the fact I burned most of Becca's face off by accident. Same with Leaves. Subject matter doesn't affect how much fun you have - we got to take a baseball bat to my car for [Let Go], we clambered around moving trains for Leaves, we threw metal chairs around a restaurant for A Great and Terrible Beauty - not to mention how much fun I had getting beat up by Trevor for Justin Ladd's final DFP project, or kicking sand in people's faces in one of Queue's, or clambering up a cliff face (okay, steep incline) with a couple 12 year olds and a camera on my back (no, the kids climbed for themselves. I just had the camera) for an amazing cityscape shot during one of Laura's, or when I hit Johnny Roggio in the face with a suitcase for one of Matt Burgos's.

The truth of it is that I always have fun shooting films, regardless of how they turn out. Which is important because a) no matter how proud I am of a film when I finish it, a couple months later I will look back and flinch - hard - if I watch it again, as I slowly realize how incredibly flawed each project is, and b) because if you aren't willing to have fun when things aren't going your way, things aren't ever going to get better. In my mind, the more fun you have, the more creative you get, and the better your final product. Of course, I've been in projects where it was all about having fun, and we made projects that looked like we had a lot of fun shooting them. And not much else.

Which honestly might be the case with Casablanca. But who cares? I've never had more fun shooting anything, this was truly filmmaker heaven. It gave me a chance to do all the sort of things I'd always wanted to do - all at once. I shot a Star Trek sequence on an alien planet, had a long dolly shot with an extravagant dance sequence in it, a huge mobster shootout, lightsaber fighting, kung fu fighting, and several bar scenes - plus I referenced/ridiculed at least 30 films (in addition to the already-ridiculous script, we added Sin City, Boondock Saints, and Miami Vice as references during filming), and I used more than 20 people in period costuming spanning several decades. I shot a sequence where I play two characters, arguing with each other, in the same shot. I put people in alien costumes several times. I utterly destroyed someone else's apartment. I don't care how it comes out, at this point. It was so much fun to shoot I'll always love it, no matter how bad it might (and probably will) end up being.

Okay, that's not true. I'll be absolutely heartbroken if it ends up failing. But it really was fun.