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Red Right Hand: AREA FIVE: "Liza McCready"
*He is not a secret agent. Not at all.


AREA FIVE: "Liza McCready"


Area Five came about from a weird need to use the internet for something...else. I wanted to make a short film, but I lack just about all the resources needed to pull off something that looks good. Cash being chief among them, followed by crew and gear (in no particular order).

Thus, it became an exercise in limitations. What did I have? What could I do? I have a cheap digital camera ($100) that's just a step above cell phone cams. I have no sound equipment to speak of. I can wrangle no more than probably two people at one time. Probably not actual actors either.

Sets? Well, I just got creative there. It's a frakking storage unit. I could have done something in my apartment or outside, but I just didn't want to set anything in my apartment and there's a distinct lack of control in doing things outside, though I've got an idea or two for the future there. Also, I didn't want to do anything that looked like it was in LA.

There's the limitation of YouTube. Naturally, I want people to be able to see it, and YouTube provides an excellent platform, so there's the ten-minute maximum. I know that people's internet attention span is probably closer to three minutes, but suck it.

The internet also favors comedy. I am not with the massively funny, so again...suck it, internet.

So, all of the above spells low-tech. So, I began to think, how can I excuse being ridiculously low-tech. How can being low-tech be part of the story or the concept in someway. Well, if you've ever seen police interrogation video on the news, you've noticed that it uniformly looks like total crap.

And, of course, Homicide: Life on the Street, is one of my favoritest shows ev-ar and is the master of the police interrogation scene. Can you say homage?

And so, the concept of the police interrogation video, pulled straight from the police archives was born. I wanted to spiff it up some. Technologize it. What if the detective had access to all municipal databases (not to mention the internet) by means of a tech assistant (so as not to spoil the rhythms of interrogation). It would also allow me to play with some on-screen elements, making this look less like a short film and more like an artifact.

Winston (Crump) is a guy I worked with. He's taking acting classes. I talked him into it. Emily (Liza), I was just talking about the idea with, mining her for advice (because she's taken on the whole professional short film thing, directing it herself, and she's totally a producer) and, for some reason, asked her if she'd be interested. She was, for psychological reasons. She wanted to see what it was like to be on the other side of the camera.

The 911 operator is my neighbor. I reached out for some local flavor and in Chicago, cast Joelle as Shelby Vance.

I found and totally wrecked a table. Graffiti, installed a handcuff bar (as seen on The Shield), hit it with stuff, etc. Got some stuff for the wall and, after deciding that no room in my apartment could be adequately converted, nor my garage, I located a Public Storage that had regular doors instead of roll-ups. And one dollar for the first month rent. Hyper-scammy. The set was probably the easiest part.

My hands, not so steady, nor was the camera designed to be held as steady, so the camera was stationary. On top of a box. It fit.

The Public Storage closed at five, so we had to be out before then. Also, we had to stop shooting when ever somebody decided they needed their ratty old couch.

Also, I'm no director. Not technically anyway. A little bit of experience dealing with stage directing, but not for something to be edited, blocking and what-not was a little more fluid that it should have been, so I would up doing a lot of directing after the fact. And after I learned how to edit. Some. I probably didn't do it right, but come on...the instruction manual was (I kid you not) 1152 pages. And not awesomely clear on some topics.

Very much a learning experience.
©2024 Michael Patrick Sullivan
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