Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Very First Short Film Experience


Hello Zapruter film fans my name is John McGill, and this article is about my first short film “Kontrolled”.Coming to California a year ago from Orlando, Fl with dreams of becoming a filmmaker I immediately began applying for jobs everywhere filmmakers hung out. Eventually being hired at Starbucks where I met Jason Horton. Little did I realize how this average Joe was a Independent Filmmaker who eventually became a driving force behind my production.. I had a few drafts of the script completed and with the help from some established writer friends I was able to lock the script. The script originally fit within a low budget of $1000 dollars but do to a illness I had to take off work for a short period. After I was back to health I noticed that my movie funds were gone but my dreams where not lost , I began saving my tips week after week and during that time made a very detailed frugal budget of$200 dollars. All that mattered was to make a great film regardless of finances. After the money was collected it was off to finding the actors, crew and equipment and thanks to networking on various sets I was able to find these quickly. I assembled my cast Paris Rumford ,Lynne Conner, David Joyner , Kristina Sullivan and a good friend Curtis Nelson II. My crew consisted of Jermaine Jae , Alexandria Storm , Roger Hunt and with everyone's combine skills and talent I was able to complete the 10 pages of action and dialogue in 1 day.


Directing my first film was.......every mixed emotion of excitement and fear. It came form the thought of failing but the chance at success. The fear stayed with me until lunch came where I ate alone thinking to myself. “ what did you come to Cali for?” , “are you afraid of success?” and answering with a “no!” I pulled myself together and started working harder than ever before. I also learned why so many crew members are need and are dubbed the “army”. You truly do need help from every aspect when shooting a film because one eye will not catch it all, thankfully everything came out great with just a four man crew. The most important tool I learned also that day was to trust in my own style of directing, focusing on emotion and naturalism from the performance, kindness yet stern communication to the crew and most importantly a confidence in my ability's.


Post for me felt like Murphy Law kicking into overdrive. Having no computer to edit I had to get help from my good friends Jason and Perdell. Only being able to edit a few hours a day it became hard balancing out my work schedule but despite that editing was coming along well, finishing a few drafts. Unfortunately to have a complete movie I would need to re-shoot some scenes. I was reluctant at first until Jason told me that “it was normal , and nothing to be ashamed off”.I started working to get the re-shoots done by contacting the actors; and although the actors were happy to re-shoot, their schedules were different. After several weeks I finally got the actors together to do the re-shoots where they nailed it like pros. Feeling ecstatic about finishing my movie and my friend letting me use his computer to use from home , I thought nothing could go wrong but It did. I lost my entire project and the backups do to a computer transferring file error. I went home feeling very down that all my hard work was gone. I called my mom late that night and she said “God does everything for a reason, and that if I put my heart into it that I can make my project better”. Her words soaked in as I asked myself two important questions “ why did you come to Cali” and “are you afraid of success?” I came to become a Filmmaker and Success was born in me. With that motivation I started on the impossible of getting two months worth of work done in one week. I was determined to finish so all I did was edit,eat and sleep. I came home every night working on my project until my eyes were glued to the screen. Editing even through my birthday and finished on Oct. 27, I gave myself the best birthday gift ever. After having a test screening to my roommates and seeing the excitement on their faces I felt like I could finally take a sigh of relief. I finished working on the trailer , which is now up on my FaceBook page and YouTube .My plans are to summit the film to festivals in hopes to gaining recognition for my work. and fans for my future films. Thanks you everyone.


  1. thanks for the post. I feel you pain with the lost edit files. I lost 6 months worth of work on my 1st feature when my computer crashed. No back-ups. Nothing. The important thing is we picked ourselves up and finished.

  2. Thanks , and yeah your right its all about going on where the other guy would have quit. ;)

  3. Good for you. I have known Jason since Highschool and I haven't seen him once since he got to LA; and I was here before him. And I even offered to help him out for NOTHING. You would assume he would want the help of someone who went to college for Film and Video Production and is certified in FCP; not to mention having been working in TV and film since middle school. Plus, when he was in New Orleans, I was in Houston... that's pretty close too.
    But to you sir, I say CONGRATULATIONS... as for me, I'm moving to Hawaii!

  4. I don't liking accepting free help from anyone. It's something that if it is at all possible to avoid I do. While I may not enjoy all aspects of post, it is something I can handle myself.