Shooting fat, dumb and happy

Yesterday was the last day of shooting on Banks Helfrich’s newest film “fat, dumb and happy” for which I was the assistant director. All I can think at this point is, wow what the hell just happened. We shot so damn fast (around 25 pages a day), that it would make any normal filmmakers’ head spin. But somehow we manage to make it all work, and in the end I really think we are going to end up with a very nice, funny and personal film for Banks. The film is about a writer, Walter, who’s real life family has communication issues, and who’s wife has been unhappy for years. So Walter writes himself a fictional family that mirrors his own to try to deal with the issues. He suddenly finds himself enjoying life more with his imagined family, but quickly realizes that he may not have an ending to his story that will bring happiness to anyone.

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Banks scripts his films in a way that I’m pretty sure only makes sense to him. And sometimes even he gets lost in the mind bending storytelling he himself had mapped out. So going in, you really don’t know what you’re gonna get.  However thanks to the talents of Producer Aviva Christie, every last minute of the production is planned to a out to a T so we can be sure we get the shots we need. And the entire crew worked really hard to keep us on track.

I have to admit I was a little uneasy about shooting with RED cameras. I’ve never shot with them before but I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about some issues they have. But I have to hand it to our Director of Photography Ryan Lightbourn, we really didn’t have any problems and the images that he has captured are just outstanding.

To top it off, we had a fun and talented cast as well. From the hilarious Adam Scharf and Richard Regan Paul from SAK Comedy Lab, the adorable 16 year old Elina Moon, and the always solid Samantha Faith O’Hare and Maria Ragen. Also some flawless, emotional moments from Marty Stonerock and one of Florida’s finest actors Michele Feren Simms. We also got to have some fun with celebrity chef Emily Ellyn, who will appear in the film as well. And let’s not forget about our writer/director, who also played not one, but two roles in the film. With everything else on his plate during production, Banks still manages to dial in a very touching performance as well. However with Banks in front of the camera for the majority of this film, it made my job that much more challenging.

In the saturated world of indie films, I applaud Banks for doing his very best to make a film using his unique voice. And when it’s all said and done, I think we are going to have a delightful little film, filled with humor, emotion and donuts. And I’m leaving the set feeling, not fat, not dumb, but certainly pretty damn happy.

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