Director's Statement and Reflection - November 25th, 2018
Two People. One Doorway.
That was the pitch (and story) behind one of my best short films to date. But let me make something clear right away – “Door Jam” is by no means my own piece. It’s actually a collaborative story that took three great minds to make. To give only one person all the credit would be a massive injustice on my part.
No, “Door Jam” was a short film made by three aspiring student filmmakers – Zach Howatt, Bethany Goodwin, and yours truly – all of which working together to create a short, one-minute project for a first-year Video Production class. This project was the final result of what was our “Action Sequence” assignment, and well, what an action sequence it was…
As a Freshman at Minnesota State University Moorhead majoring in Film Production and Theater Arts, I wanted to be able to make new films right away. Thankfully, MSUM’s film program starts you off in a class dedicated to making short video assignments that can be done in a variety of ways. For starters, the “Portrait” assignment is a way to introduce you to the equipment and to take on documentary-style filmmaking, followed by the "Action Sequence" assignment, where you’re tasked with created a quick-paced, action-packed short filled with escalated conflict. Then, you wrap up with a final assignment dedicated towards a topic of your choosing. Three film projects all with different incentives. It was a great way to start the film program at MSUM.
Right away, I knew this class was going to be everything I could have hoped for and more. Creative freedom was available from the get-go, and I knew I couldn’t let any of that go to waste.
When it came down to being introduced to the “Action Sequence” assignment, I knew right away that I wanted to work with some of the brightest people in the class. Sure, there were plenty of people who had good ideas and intentions, but no one else had impressed me more than both Zach Howatt and Bethany Goodwin.
Zach is a creative soul with a strong sense of imagery and sound design. His short films provoke experimental ideals and realism that definitely takes on a life of its own. He’s got the eye for detail and a great understanding of direction. Beth, too, has these qualities. She’s able to tell stories through an experimental lens while also guiding viewers through many different situations in life. It was because of these qualities that I ran up to both Zach and Beth and asked if I could work with them on the “Action Sequence” project. Thankfully, both agreed and the rest is history.
We had a couple of different ideas before coming up with the “Two People, One Doorway” concept. Initially, we had ideas about a guy running late to class, or being late for a date night. None of these ideas really stood out, so they were scrapped early on. It wasn’t until the end of one of our classes when Beth brought up the idea to have two people getting stuck in a doorway. Both Zach and I loved the idea right away…something about the awkwardness and silliness of the situation called to us. It was the perfect concept that no one had previously touched…something original and creative. With the idea in place, Zach, Beth, and I began to piece together what would become the “door jam” of the century.
We filmed “Door Jam” over the course of one evening. While I was only available for the first half of production, the process was incredibly fun and entertaining for all involved. Alongside Zach and Beth were fellow actors Max Million (my roommate at the time) and Daniel Kost, both of which delivering an extremely funny performance on set. In addition to filming, Zach spent time making original sounds and noises for the piece. Danny and I also had a lot of fun recording the small little grunts you hear from the characters (yes, you read that right…I did the vocals for Max’s character. That’s a bonus fact if you’ve read this far!). Overall, filming and producing the short was quick and easy – incredibly fun, too.
Editing “Door Jam” is also a fun story. It took me a total of three hours to edit the first thirty seconds of the piece (which is basically everything up to when Max and Danny get to the door). In addition to sound design, the editing process of the short took roughly seven hours to complete. Put that in perspective for a second…a one-minute short film took over seven hours to complete. That’s a pretty impressive feat.
“Door Jam” didn’t have its official premiere until roughly a year after its completion (at the South Dakota Film Festival in September 2018), but when it was screened in front of our class of 40+ students, the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. The piece was able to capture those awkward feelings while also being incredibly funny and witty overall. Those positive reactions were enough for us to submit the film to two film festivals (the South Dakota Film Festival and the Minne Mini Film Festival) and later see it screened at both. What a crazy experience.
Yes, “Door Jam” was a pretty great success for all of us, and I’m ecstatic that it did so well. Working with Zach, Beth, Danny, and Max was an incredible experience and super rewarding overall. I’m so glad that I was able to collaborate with such wonderful filmmakers and artists, and I hope that I’ll be able to do so for a very long time. I just hope I don’t get stuck in a doorway like Max and Danny did. That’d be really awkward.
- Kyle Odefey