“I’ve got a long comic background as a writer and actor, but I’ve never really done standup,” says Carlton. “Then my boys were born, it was all going a bit crazy, and I didn’t have much time to write long-form scenes — only grabs and snatches. So over the course of a year I just worked up this standup comedy routine based on a single father choosing a favorite son.”
But even with an inspired idea in hand, they faced a near impossible deadline. It was Friday, they hadn’t made a film, and the deadline was the following Thursday.
During a brief pre-production meeting they decided on a few last-minute adjustments to the story. “In the standup routine I’d already chosen a favorite,” says Carlton. “But in the film, to make sure that there were stakes, that the drama wasn’t in the rear-view mirror, I haven’t yet chosen. That way you empathize with me even though my character’s messages are mad.”
Now Carlton and Weinress were ready to shoot “CARMICHAEL & shane.” Weinress rolled camera from 7 to 11 Saturday morning, the time when Carlton typically looks after his boys. Then they put the twins down for their nap and shot the interview B-roll — largely Carlton’s standup bit delivered in interview format, with generous improvisation.
“We banged out the interview in 20 minutes and then Alex went away,” says Carlton. “So we’d wrapped by midday Saturday.”
While Carlton flew to New Zealand, Weinress started editing on Final Cut Pro. “On Tuesday Alex rang me and said, ‘Man, we may have something here,’” says Carlton.
Using the hotel broadband (“That could have doubled the budget, but I charged it to a corporate client,” says Carlton), the two swapped files back and forth on their PowerBooks to finish the edit. And Thursday morning Weinress burned a DVD and sent it to the Tropfest judges.
“Alex’s skills as an editor and a documentary maker allowed us to be able to shoot it and turn it in that short amount of time,” says Carlton.
Weinress agrees and credits his tools. “One of the things I like best about Final Cut is the variety of shortcuts, which have made me a much faster editor,” he says. “A big reason for our success with this little short was that my editing speed has increased so dramatically.”
Although they were happy with their film, they sent it off with no expectations of winning. “We liked it, you know, but it’s a short film competition,” says Carlton. “A lot of great films go in. And you know what short films are like — it’s very subjective. People could say they liked it but liked that one better.”
As it turned out, the judges didn’t like any film better than “CARMICHAEL & shane.” Carlton was also surprised to win for best male performer (”I’m an Australian actor, mate. I don’t expect anything good to happen. Ever.”) Their win at Sony Tropfest 2006 got them equipment, travel to New York, Telluride, and L.A., and a production green light for their Australian TV show. “Two big reasons we were able to land this TV deal were the success of the short but also our ten-minute TV pilot video that allowed anyone reading out scripts to actually experience the characters and the kind of humor we were trying to achieve,” says Weinress. “Neither could have been made without Final Cut Pro.”
The success of “CARMICHAEL & shane” has also won them representation with a Hollywood agent, who is helping them pitch their television project, as well as a feature film, in the U.S.
“Before we heard from the Telluride festival, I didn’t even know what it was,” says Carlton. “It’s awesome. All on the back of this crazy little film.”
Is this the official film here?:
I’d love to do a feature on you my site duelingtampons.com.
-What year did you graduate?
-What was your path from Penn to creating this film?
I’m also cc:ing my film coordinator for Pennfest (http://www.pennfest.com) our annual Penn “emerging film and live music” event out here in Los Angeles.
Tagged Alex Weinress