In January 2014, Stefan and I were bundled in blankets participating in our favorite activity: reading student screenplays. Stefan was taking a screenwriting class. I was fresh out of a creative writing BA program. We felt the woes of being amateurs among amateurs. Our list of what not to do had grown so vast and suffocating, we became experts on how to fail, not be good.
One month later, Stefan wrote Tough Case. He pitched it to me like this: "It will start with an alarm clock, end with a Mexican standoff, and I will play all the parts." He called it "Hard Case." Soon creatures rose from a lagoon, which became out "crew". Stefan may have wrote, directed, and starred in Tough Case, but Jackson Rosenfeld shot the thing and composed the music, bringing in talent like Anthony Guzman's voice, some brass, and some bass. And then we had our "shoestring slasher," Adam Carra. He barely survived the shoot while blinded by the Nixon mask. After his sacrifice for us, we shooed him to his cold editing room where he hid for several months.
We wrapped main production in February, and by May we filmed our famous quarter-second dummy shot -- for four hours -- then returned to post, where we watched raw footage render.
Tough Case has been in 8 festivals now. We've been to only one, where we could count the audience on our fingers and toes. We have a trophy now. I think. We got a package in the mail that Stefan and I each forget to pick up.
Our Tough Case project was 500GBs altogether. We kept it lovingly on an external hard drive, but the hard drive burnt out soon after the house fire. We suspect smoke damage.
The film's festival run is almost over now. Flat Quack Films just last week released behind-the-scenes footage. It made me laugh so hard that it left me nostalgic. Tough Case, our "bad student film," somehow helped us break out of our student-y mold.
I embedded the footage below. Maybe you can experience the same longing I do for our project, which is both right and perfectly wrong.