It is with great dismay that I announce the cancellation (or perhaps postponement) of Light, my 20-episode feature-film-length web series. Why, you may ask? Well let’s get into it…the tragedy that is Light.
I started writing Light back in probably February of this year (2011). While working on this project I knew that it was going to be long…but not necessarily incredibly difficult. I’ve done a lot of short films before, so I figured this would be an extended short film project in the way I’d produce it. But…that didn’t quite happen. During writing I made sure to use locations I knew (or thought) would be available to me. I planned to shoot extensively at Albion College, where I am a music major.
Of course the very FIRST thing I had to do before scheduling locations was casting. I assumed this was going to be the hardest part. I was wrong. I had the cast of ten or so major characters assembled in a matter of weeks. I found people via craigslist, MichiganActing.com, and local schools where I have friends.
I wanted to wait until after the school year to start shooting, I figured this would be best for everyone since I’m not the only college student involved. I got in touch with some people at Albion College around the end of the school year which happened to be early-to-mid May. I wanted to start shooting in early June with the hopes of being done by the end of July at the latest.
Suffice it to say, Albion College gave me the run-around. Despite me being a student, they would not let me shoot on campus. I really couldn’t get them to work with me much at all. When I was asked “how long would it take you to shoot? An hour?” I knew things weren’t looking good. For some reason, it took the college a good month or so to deliberate and get back to me, all to tell me that if I wanted to shoot on campus I’d have to pay a $500 dollar insurance fee AND on top of that, they may not be able to accommodate all the time I needed.
In the meantime I was able to shoot a few scenes for the first episode at Joel Worsham’s house (he stars in a number of comedy shorts that we’ve done) and at Huff Auto Group, a local car dealership. I went to high school and graduated with Gary Huff’s (the owner) daughter. He let me shoot at his dealership and even let me use some of his cars, that was pretty awesome! A few days later I was able to shoot a number of car scenes in my own garage…but the fun ends there.
I had done all the scenes I could do without the assistance of Albion College. It was now July and it became clear that I couldn’t use the college, so I had to find other locations. I found a couple local factories and my uncle happens to be one of the co-owners of Keyes Produce, a local produce store, and he was going to let me shoot there. However, these locations didn’t open up until probably mid-July. By this point Rodney Rice, my lead actor, had been committed to a local production of Grease and he couldn’t do any shooting on Light until August.
By mid-August Rodney had finished Grease and we were able to shoot at one of the local factories. Now I had MOST of the first five episodes finished…of twenty. By this time I was supposed to be heavy into post production. Sadly, it was during this time that I realized something…I really was not happy with some of my casting choices.
I could sit here all day and defend myself by saying “it’s no budget local film, of course I can’t be picky!” That is mostly true, but now after the fact, I wish I had been picky. Casting makes or breaks a film. I just was not happy with my choice of actors for the leads, they didn’t really work for the roles. Much akin to when Geneviève Bujold was cast as Captain Katherine Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager. She’s a highly respected actress, but she just did not work for the role.
So, I thought to myself: “already I’ve spent a good eight months on this project and I have barely five out of twenty episodes done…this could actually take years.” It’s then when I really began to think about it. I love making films, and I really like this story and these scripts, and I don’t even mind taking years to produce it! But…if I spend years on this project, I don’t want to look back on it and think “man…that could have been WAY better.” Of course, there’s a certain degree of imperfection to ANY film. There’s no such thing as the perfect film. However, if I had continued Light I would have settled for way less than simple a “imperfect” film.
What does all this mean? Do I hate the people I’m working with? No, certainly not. But, my perogative as a storyteller is to tell a good story and to tell it well. It is my RESPONSIBILITY to tell the story well. If I finished Light the way it is now I’d be doing it just to do it. The passion is then taken away and it becomes very clear in the finished product when that happens. To all those involved who may have been passionate about this project, I’m truly sorry, but know that this decision does not come easy for me. Hopefully in the future, Light will once again resurface and I can do it the way I want to do it and do it right.
Thanks everyone for reading. As always, weekly shorts are released on Mondays. The previous short was High School Life, Part I: Stapled. The next will be High School Life, Part II: Jenny.