The Hat Trick Film Diary: Day 1.

So I began work on a short film project today entitled "The Hat Trick." It's a (mostly) silent film in three parts. I say mostly because it starts out in color and with sound, but changes pretty quickly (there's magic involved).

The basic idea of the story is that a magical top hat finds its way into the lives of a handful of people and gives them exactly what they deserve. Each segment is its own story, but they all tie into each other, and each segment was inspired by a different silent work.

The first story gets the ball rolling as The Lady leaves her office for a while, leaving her Apprentice to clean up before she returns. But as soon as she leaves, The Apprentice stumbles upon the top hat and things slowly become more and more chaotic from there. Of course, this story was inspired by the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" segment of Disney's Fantasia. There's a lot of magical things involved here. And yes, I even have a broom involved.

The second story follows a Hobo and a Thief. The Hobo comes across the hat and wears it around a park. Meanwhile, a Thief has just stolen a precious jewel and tries to hide it before she's caught with it. However, it somehow finds its way transported into The Hobo's hat. Wackiness ensues as The Thief tries to sneakily steal it back. This segment was heavily inspired by Charlie Chaplin, so there's a lot of physical comedy and dramatic irony.

The final story follows a stingy, rich Man. After getting the hat himself, he goes home... only to find himself plagued by magical mayhem as a kind of payback for how he acted earlier on. This segment was, in part, inspired by The Artist--but mainly that dream sequence scene where everything is starting to make sound except for him, and it's driving him crazy.

Anyway, today I wrapped up filming on Part 1. It was a fun, albeit sometimes trying shoot. The bulk of it was just me and the teenage daughter of an acquaintance of mine (who will also be appearing in the movie in Part 2). The entire shoot took four hours (from about 11 AM to 3 PM). We worked in the office in a University where I used to work for about 3 years (and where I will be working again briefly in the near future), and I actually had to get special permission to film there, which was an interesting experience. I ended up with about 47 minutes of footage, which I'm assuming will be whittled down to maybe 20 minutes by the time I'm done editing it.

Some highlights:

*Having to watch for cast members to show up because the building was actually locked up, meaning I had to let them in when I saw them arrive.

*Realizing I needed an empty bottle of water and not having it... so going to buy a bottle of water from the vending machine, gulping it down in less than a minute, tearing off the label, and having it ready for use.

*Having no hallway lights for the "water fountain" moment and having to use the flashlight on my phone to end up with some pretty crappy quality. Oh well, it was only a few seconds long.

*Using a set piece with a logo on one side of it, and having to turn it in a different direction multiple (and I do mean multiple) times depending on the angle of the shot.

*Discovering that some seemingly easy shots were much more difficult than they first appeared. (Like walking away from a closed door to reveal something behind the actor, or tossing a hat onto an inanimate object from mere inches out-of-frame.)

*Realizing I'm not only racing the clock (my teen actress' ride was coming in 30 minutes), but that the battery on my camera was getting terribly low at the same time.

*Spreading thumb tacks over the hallway floor and hoping security (who I had learned earlier had not been made privy to my activities) would not find me out and kick me out for endangerment (after all... it was a near-empty building!).

*And, of course, filming some truly difficult shots (that I knew were going to be truly difficult) involving multiple shots, good timing, split screens, steady hands, and a helpful director standing right out of frame to help hold a somewhat heavy prop.

Anyway, the shoot went relatively well and I got some great stuff out of it. Some of the tough stuff came out really well. Others... well, let's be thankful they're quick moments. I hope that once I get everything in order and some music behind it, that it'll be pretty fantastic. And now all I have to look forward to are two more days of filming in the near future!


  1. Ooooh, I'm looking forward to seeing the final product! Sounds like a pretty awesome project.

  2. Sounds like a fun experience, although I think you touch on a lot of the reasons why I've never been privy to making my own films.

    It's cool to see you're looking to do something creative with your film knowledge. Look forward to seeing the end result.


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