By Ron Hagell
Making this film was a pure joy. I enjoy the process of filmmaking and once Shirley Smith and I decided to have a go at this adventure, the initial step, of reading 38 short stories and picking the ones that seemed more cinematic, was fun yet daunting. The one we ended up with seemed right since it had bicycles and a very touching Sci-Fi story. For two cyclists there was a natural appeal.
The story also seemed ready for the screen with its three sections, the arrivals, and a direct flash-forward cinema narrative. Then, since it was a writer's festival, we decided to stick as close to the story as possible. The Southern quality of the piece reminded me of "To Kill a Mockingbird" with it's off-screen narration, so I tried to stay with that idea. Some of the story was not possible to use as written and so I created scenes to cover these elements of the story. For example, we created a funeral scene where we see and meet all the main characters and we get the main story told over the scene. I took my lead here from all those classic film makers - Hitchcock, Capra and John Ford who were all excellent adapters.
Our experience in the making of this film was most notable because of the relationships that both made it a joy and worked out so well on the ground. First the writer, Terresa Haskew, realized early on that this was a completely different animal to her effort and became our biggest cheerleader throughout. Early on we decided to run our first drafts by her and she provided some excellent feedback. But the bigger story was the number and quality of other crew members who volunteered to help us. This turned out to be the real take-away from this shoot. The mixture of older and very young crew folks who all worked together like a well-oiled machine made this the best experience of my career.
Sadly, the limited time we had to pull it all together caused us a to have a few issues on the shoot and in post-production. The camera recording quality and limited takes were overcome to some extent with our eventual processing and did finally deliver the film we wanted but not in time for the premiere screening.
With the advent of the internet as a screening venue, there may be a whole new world for these kinds of short films and as we can see, there already is quite a festival market place for them. Most filmmakers see these as stepping stones to features but I have always seen them as a complete art form in and of themselves. Hopefully their audiences will continue to grow. I hope to continue to make more of these alongside my art installations and dance films.