Behind the Scenes of 'We Apologize for the Inconvenience'
Late last year, I created an absurd surreal comedy short film titled, We Apologize for the Inconvenience.
It follows Jeff Magnus, a lazy general manager of a failing business. In an attempt to get some sleep on the job, a vigilante secret agent named Gareth Prongle busts in and warns Jeff that a "terrorist" left a "bomb" on the premises. Frustrated by Gareth's refusal to leave despite threatening legal action, Jeff agrees to guide him around the office in hopes of "finding" the "bomb."
This is the story of its production.
I have no idea where I got the idea for this short.
One day, I began thinking about a movie I might want to make someday about a lazy employee and a bunch of vigilantes trying to find a bomb in his office. I was kind of obsessed with the idea.
I worked out how to compress this idea into a 5-12 page script. Many of the early iterations were radically different from what we eventually got.
Here are some of the things that appeared in these drafts:
- Gareth was a not-so-serious wisecracker
- The entire second act (middle) of the film was set in the security room
- The FBI arrive at the scene
Over the summer, I brainstormed and rewrote the script. Once I was happy with it, I began rounding up my cast and crew (all but two were fellow SCAD students).
September 14th, 2019, noon. Cast and crew began showing up at the shooting location: a doctor's office in Marietta, Georgia (about 20-30 minutes from Atlanta). After about 30-40 minutes of preparing camera and sound, setting up the first shot, and actors going over their scripts, we were ready to go.
My assistant director/co-producer Fatima Diallo and I managed the set with only the finalized script, a shot list, a schedule based on the shot list, and my own visualizations of just about every shot that needed to be done.
Though I certainly would have benefited from getting those ideas down on paper via storyboards and floor plans, working off what I had in mind was not only gratifying when pulled off successfully but also quite flexible. I wasn't afraid to make little compromises here and there when it came to how scenes were executed, how much time was spent on them, and what the cast and crew was most comfortable with.
In terms of the setting, I stuck to three rooms. The rooms were already set up as I needed them except for some quick adjustments, which facilitated the process of setting up the next shot or scene.
Although the surveillance room scenes utilized darker, more dynamic lighting, the rest of the film was shot under the existing florescent ceiling lights with some additional LED lights to balance things out.
[SPOILER ALERT; I RECOMMEND THAT YOU SKIP THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH IF YOU HAVEN'T WATCHED THE SHORT YET]
I also assembled the film's quasi-MacGuffin — the bomb — using cardboard tubes, tape, an old belt, and one of the timers we had at the location. The "smoke" which the bomb emits upon "detonation" was created with: 1) a composited smoke effect on a close-up of the "detonation," and 2) a fog machine which is placed off-screen in the final shot.
11 hours later, we wrapped. The original plan was to complete the short over two 6-hour shooting days, but after some suggestions from some of the cast and crew and the final decision on my part, we shot the entire film on the same day.
I took some time afterward to cut the film and make changes from feedback along the way. I uploaded it to YouTube in mid-January 2020.
I would like to thank you all who have watched and enjoyed this short film of mine (or, if you haven't yet, for reading this post) as well as the cast and crew who helped me get everything I needed together in order to bring my outrageous vision to life.
Check out We Apologize for the Inconvenience below!