We Made a Movie San Diego (It's Called The Big Calzone)

Photo: Roodi Zuhair

I can’t tell you enough how pumped I am about this project.

Not only did a group of strangers get together, for nothing else but the love of storytelling and film—but we also made a movie in less than 77 hours. It’s really pretty rad when you think about it.

And when I say “made,” I mean it literally—we were given 77 hours to write, shoot, edit, and submit the film.

This was all done for the National Film Challenge, so they’re the ones that came up with the genre, and the requirements. We were assigned the genre of martial arts (other teams got different genres, all picked at random), and all the teams had to include three things:

  1. a character named Jarred Hammack who is a chef
  2. a fan
  3. a line of dialogue that says, “That was your last chance.”

We began conceptualizing the story at 7:00 p.m. on Friday night, and it wasn’t until about 1:30 a.m. that we came up with a plot we all liked enough to shoot. Chris Cantore, who plays The Big Calzone—thought it would be hilarious if we went the comedy route with martial arts, instead of the standard dubbed flick with lots of shouting and nunchucks (although, every movie could use more nunchucks).

The idea of a middle-aged man who was frustrated with his work and personal life, signing up for a mixed martial arts fight, sounded like a great place to start. I got home at 3:30 a.m. and began writing the script. I sent it out to the cast and crew of volunteers at 8:00 a.m., with a call time asking everyone to show up four hours later.

I had no clue if anyone would actually show up.

I must have passed out for an hour or two, and when I woke up, I only had a couple of email responses. I had no clue if our lead actors were still interested after reading the script, and I didn’t know if the extras were still up for being in it. Honestly, I didn’t know much. But I got my gear together, and drove to the first location.

Poster design by Valentino Valdez

It couldn’t have been a better a turn out. The actors came prepared with their lines, and with ideas and suggestions of where they could take their characters. Even folks with no dialogue came with scene suggestions that we ended up using in the film. Everyone was enthusiastic, excited, and incredibly patient. It’s not easy signing up for a film project with such a short time window, and also one that had such a broad scope in direction.

Somehow, we pulled it off—and handed in the film at about 11:50 p.m. on Monday night with ten minutes to spare.

I grabbed a very necessary drink with David and James (co-producers) to celebrate, and we called it a night at around 2:00 a.m. Tuesday morning. You would think we would have partied all night, but we were running on fumes and were all in need of some serious rest.

Now, we’re facing off against 150 teams from around the world (although I have no idea how many of them submitted on time), and hoping we get a shot at an Audience Choice Award, a screening at Filmapalooza, or almost impossibly—a screening at the Cannes Film Festival. All three awards are up for grabs by the teams that handed in a finished film on time.

It would be sweet to win (Cannes!), but I’m already beyond happy with what we put together. I can’t wait to share it with you, and with all the people that helped us make it happen. We honestly could not have done any of it, without all the awesomeness that all the volunteers brought that weekend.

Thanks guys, you rock.