The following is an interview with Michael Papich, a TriFilm Society member who recently finished a short comedy titled Hornt.
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TriFilm: Tell us about Hornt.
MP: Hornt is the first short I wrote, shot, and edited, going through all the steps on my own, though I had help with the camera work. It’s a comedy about a guy who has trouble understanding dating apps and hatches a long plan to make it work to his benefit.
TriFilm: What role(s) did you play in making the film?
MP: My roles were writing and editing primarily. I set up most of the shots and used all of my equipment but on two of the shooting days, I had my friend Amber Delgado working the camera since she has more technical training than I do and it’s a lot easier than working the camera and recording audio at the same time.
TriFilm: What inspired you to make the short film?
MP: The initial joke of the short, the idea that someone would stop on a dating app after swiping once, had just been something in my head for a while.
But I’d been thinking about making shorts to get more experience with working a camera and editing, plus at the monthly screenwriting meetings through TriFilm, I always wanted to have something more manageable to bring in aside from segments of feature scripts I’d written.
So I started working on that idea to see what I could spin out of it and made that my first big project. I’d written shorts that other people have filmed and edited but this is my first time doing it all myself.
TriFilm: How did you handle casting?
MP: I put out the call on Facebook and just waited to see what happened.
Initially I had interest from other actors in the area I didn’t know but a few of them dropped out or couldn’t respond to my emails in time. I ended up using some friends of mine who saw the message on Facebook as well.
It worked out well and I’ve been in talks with those friends about doing more shorts. We made one for Zombiepalooza not long after.
TriFilm: How did you secure locations for filming?
MP: Locations was probably the hardest aspect. There are only three key scenes in the short, two took place at “restaurants and cafés” so that was tricky. For the café, after getting frustrated, I just found an outdoor patio for a business that opens at night and filmed there during the day. It looked coffee-shoppy enough.
As for the restaurant, that was the biggest scene and I went through a couple before I was recommended to try the Chef’s Palette. They were very accommodating and it ended up being a great spot that gave us a lot of time and flexibility to work. I reached out to Carlene Cearley from allset Location Scouting to find that one.
TriFilm: What lessons did you learn that you’ll apply to your next projects?
MP: The two biggest lessons were, first, to be persistent. After losing locations for filming, I got really dejected but by convincing myself I would keep at it, I could focus on tackling the problem and thought up solutions, namely the outdoor patio problem.
The other, more practical lesson was to be more discerning when shooting. I was nervous each time and just tried to get through each shot without any clear mistakes. But going back to review the footage, I realized there would be some elements that were fairly obvious I’d want to change or redo. I want to be more willing to say “cut” and rework a particular shot/take to make it work, now that I’m seeing it play out in the real world than on the page.
TriFilm: Any advice you’d like to share with your fellow filmmakers?
MP: My advice is – aside from the trite, “Keep at it! Don’t give up!” – is to really work on your script. I’ve seen a lot of very talented and well-resourced film crews shoot beautiful looking low-budget shorts but everything is so weighed down by a bad script: bad dialogue, no story, bits and pieces that go nowhere.
Not only really think through your script and figure out what you want to do, but have other people read it who you know can be honest and insightful. You don’t have to obey all of their advice; I didn’t with Hornt. But you’ll know which of their criticisms rings true and those are the things you can use to build up your idea.
Going to the monthly TriFilm screenwriter meetings definitely helps with that.
WATCH THE FILM
Watch Hornt on YouTube now.
ABOUT MICHAEL PAPICH
Michael Papich is a local journalist and screenwriter working on creating comedy shorts and films in the Triangle area.
Hornt is his first attempt at writing, shooting, editing, and producing a short. The comedy is about a man who goes to long lengths to set up his perfect date, against his better judgment, all while navigating the world of dating apps.
Follow Michael Papich on Twitter: @WhatsPappening