M60: Faux Pas

The Indoor Pool at Hearst Castle
Yes, there were many a faux pas this year on the world stage. But "faux pas" was also the theme of this year's M60, Montreal's 60-second film festival, now in its fifth year. The M60 kicked off this year's edition at the Casa del Popolo on July 19. Eighty-five filmmakers and their teams got in line to register. Participants could use either the French or English definition of faux pas when creating their films, which had to be submitted one month later on August 19. I was in the crowd that included both Oscar-winning filmmakers and complete newbies, and I left wondering if my filmmaking team (my family) hadn't bitten off more than it could chew. After all, we were going to California for three weeks and would be there when the film had to be submitted.

Nitt Witt Ridge, a California landmark
My husband and I thought that we would find the perfect story at the Hearst Castle. William Randolf Hearst certainly had his fair share of blunders, as did his girlfriend, actress Marion Davies. Maybe we could throw something in about Citizen Kane....No, that would be far too ambitious.

We arrived at Hearst Castle on August 12 and shot extensive film, but struggled to come up with a decent story, or, ah, even a semblance of one. Then we travelled down the road a few miles to Nitt Witt Ridge, a three-storey house made entirely from recycled items and pilfered materials from Hearst's many renovations. The "architect" was Art Harold Beal, the town garbage man, sometime construction worker and village oddball. But damn...we still couldn't see a story. At this point, five days before the deadline, I made an executive decision: we could not get stressed out about the 60-second film festival. We were after all on vacation. My husband agreed. We decided to drop the idea altogether.

Then miraculously an idea presented itself on August 18, as we were hiking between Muir Beach and Pirate's Cove on a steep Pacific Coast trail in Marin County. We found a bouquet of dried roses sitting on a handwritten note when we arrived at the top. It looked almost like flowers to commemorate someone who had fallen from the precipice.... Bingo! We had our very simple story and a beautiful setting with plenty of fog and a weathered guardrail on the verge of collapse. Misstep would be our title.

View from the Precipice
Our first shot is of the bouquet of flowers and the note with plenty of audible wind. Then we cut to a 10-year-old girl who asks her mother if she can move closer to the edge to get a better look. The mother is busy taking pictures and says, "Yes, but be careful." In the next shot, in what is presumably minutes later, the 5-year-old son asks his mother where his sister is.  As expected, the mother rushes over to the guardrail. Then in the last scene, the daughter reappears and asks her brother, "Where's Mom?" That was our stunning twist. The Mom had gone over the cliff.

The Making Of
We shot and edited the entire one minute of film on my husband's iPad and submitted it seconds before the deadline. Just a short note to anyone who wants to try this: we encountered a few problems with the iPad sound editing software. Be prepared....

At the M60 film festival screening we attended, the last scene of our film elicited a gasp from the couple sitting next to us and that was the best feedback we could have possibly asked for.

The M60 was hugely successful this year, selling out all three of its September screening dates, and there were some excellent films. If you are at all interested in making a film or just want to try your film editing software then this is a golden opportunity. And the best part is that the M60 is free for filmmakers.

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Circus: Sequence 8 at TOHU
Pots and Pans Protests of Bill 78
Felines: Friend or Foe?
Villeray's Subtle Rawesomeness




Unknown | October 7, 2012 at 10:32 AM

Very good says Grandpa :-)

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