Making “Pete”

First, you marvel.

Then, consider the possibility,

Finally, you take up your tools and work.


This sort of process has been my experience over and over again. I see someone make something – the coolest thing ever. And it’s like they must have been blessed by the gods to be able to create like that. But then you look into it, and while it still seems magical and impressive, it probably isn’t impossible. Eventually, you do some research, buy some stuff, and realize hey, maybe I could do this too.

I think I first experienced this with songwriting. I marveled at how anyone could go into a room with a guitar and some paper, then come back out with an anthem. I started copying down the lyrics to my favorite songs, line by line – pages and pages of mimicking the process. Eventually, I did it again but didn’t copy anything. When I walked out of the room, I wasn’t holding anything spectacular, but it was mine.

DSC_3863

It was pretty much the same with surfing. When Switchfoot released a film (Fading West) documenting surfing off the coast of South Africa, I watched in amazement at how anyone other than Jesus could stand on water, or even better, ride with it. A few years later, Luke and I dropped $20 on a used, yellow surfboard which we became really good at falling off of. We talked a group of friends (who also had no idea how to surf) into taking a surf trip, and by the end of three days, we had all felt the rush of riding (briefly) with water. We even made a video. (from which this rather discolored image was taken)

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This semester I found myself in MCM-213, a media production course required for my degree program. The course requires each student to write, film, and produce their own short film. I was first hesitant and had no idea what I was getting into. Then I was excited – I had a cobbled together vision for my project. And that gave way to despair; my ideas were not working – my script was not working – things were not aligning. Eventually, the first day of shooting came, and I found myself sitting on the floor surrounded by a skeletal screenplay two hours before my main actor would want to know what to…act. I made some new stuff up, borrowed from my earlier ideas, and hoped for the best.

Filming turned out to be a blast! We filmed three separate days for about two hours each session. Brandon willingly did whatever I asked of him – Aleisha took notes of which takes were good and bad – Luke had the idea to shoot the last scene in one continuous take. And we found props and set pieces lying around our shooting locations.

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Editing also turned out to be really fun. I purchased a student subscription to the Adobe Suite and watched a lot of how to use Adobe Premiere YouTube videos. I really enjoyed getting to make the mechanical choices (soundtrack inserts and video cuts…) which pushed the narrative forward. All the video was shot on my Nikon D3300, which is a very entry-level DSLR, and (almost) all the music was from the YouTube Audio Library.

editing screen

After many hours of sitting in class, working on a script, filming with friends, and learning new software, I hit the “export” and “upload” buttons and declared this project finished! Now I’m back to getting Aleisha to teach me how to make macrame plant hangers, which is starting to seem less impossible.


Here is “Pete” the 2020 short film.

*watch it with headphones.


One thought on “Making “Pete”

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