Jun 22, 2011
Teens Like Phil was an odd project that started poorly then ended on a relative high note.
Curious Pictures’ in-house director David Griffiths approached me one day, asking if I’d like to do some compositing work on the side for a couple of young friends of his. They were creating a short film and needed some help with a couple of VFX shots. A background of a park to be blacked out for a dream sequence or something. Sure. I’d never worked on a short film before. Also I was excited to see what folks outside the commercial world were creating with their time and passions! Feeling disconnected from the gay activist community recently, the film’s narrative seemed like a good way to reconnect with that side of myself also.
When the directors showed up with 23+ mins of VFX shot work they wanted me to do…..I sort of lost my mind a bit. In some way, I had already committed to doing the work before seeing it…..but this was too much. To put that much work in perspective, we at the studio typically would spend about 1-5 days per VFX 2-3sec shot for commercials which were 00:30-01:00 min of total run time, resulting in about 10-12 weeks of work, per artist, per 01:00 min commercial. These guys were asking for 23 mins of vfx work, and I was to do it alone!?! I was floored and didn’t know what to say at first. When my wits returned I advised that they lock the cut as soon as possible, commit to the shots, and reduce the overall load. Something the directors ultimately did.
But I was sad. This was going to eat up every night, and weekend for likely the next 3-6 months. It was a huge undertaking. But. The trouble was. I really really liked the film. The directors David Rosler and Dominic Haxton had in fact written a deeply moving short. It was surreal, and upsetting in the way that hidden truths, once spoken out loud pull feelings out of you. It was also a queer centric film, AND illustrated the trauma of bullying. Despite wanting my summer, and friends, and family. I also really wanted this film to be made, and as selfish as it was…..wanted to be part of the process.
And so it went. David Rosler would call me up once a week, frustrated that the work was taking so long. David Griffiths would call him back saying to calm down. That little theatre carried on for several months, till finally, we got the shots to an acceptable level.
For me the work was volunteer for a good cause. For David, I recall him being very hurt that I didn’t want to accept the money he offered. Maybe I was wrong in not accepting it. Who knows. I just thought he could do more with bit of cash than I could.
Once the film was completed there was a screening for all the cast and crew somewhere in SoHo. In the wake of the film’s obvious success, I vaguely recall reconciling our differences. The short was super good. All the blood sweat and tears they had put into it returned with dividends.