REALITY BITES - 1 Day Script. 1 Day Prep. 1 Day Shoot.

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We (Lexy Anderson and Ben Murray) are a filmmaking duo based in London, who regularly collaborate on short films.

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We wanted to share the story about our most recent film, “Reality Bites” which had a pre-production turnover of...24 hours. YES! 24 Hours. So how did we prep a shoot in one day? We’ve shared our secrets below!

Creating a Script Archive

Unfortunately, nowadays, having one script isn’t enough. For various reasons, you now need a body of work to earn a following, as well as have regular work delivered for audience’s to see. This is where a script archive can come in handy.

For us, our collection came from an off-the-cuff decision to just hang out and discuss some scripts. Writing with another person can be difficult, but at this stage we were just riffing ideas, and after a night of basically talking nonsense, we conjured up a collection of concepts, one of which was “Reality Bites”.

We’re not sure what specifically inspired it. At one point one during the writing session, someone asked “What if you married a zombie?” and the next morning, there was a script! (It was also written in a day too!)

Writing with another person can be difficult, but we didn’t judge to early in the process and bounced ideas off one another until we had enough of a concept to start creating and solidifying the world and the characters.

TIP: The story for “Reality Bites” came from us asking “What if” about various scenarios - for example, what would life be like if you married to a zombie? The fly-on-the-wall documentary style seemed like the right way to explore it comedically, and we drafted a script overnight.

So, What the Heck Happened?

We had a script, auditioned cast, gathered equipment, scouted locations, and…. it all fell through!

Due to an actor cancellation last minute, the original script planned to shoot became impossible to move forward with. This is where our script archived really saved us. We looked for an alternative that drew similar resources from what we already had.

Two actors. A flat location. Minimal filming gear. “Reality Bites” seemed to fit the bill, so we pitched it to our remaining actors as an alternative and (thankfully) both were game for a last minute switch-a-roo.

We gathered the props we needed as best we could, as well as scouring filmmaker groups across the early hours of shoot-day morning, eventually locking down a makeup artist.

TIP: We can’t recommend Facebook groups enough - if you can manage to advertise a position as “Paid”, no matter how low that is, you’ll usually attract a higher level of candidates to your radar.

(Actress, Bridgette Wellbelove as “Jane”, slating a scene)

(Actress, Bridgette Wellbelove as “Jane”, slating a scene)

The Shoot

Considering the above madness, the shoot itself was very relaxed. We had a shot-list, but that was used as more of a guide, as we encouraged everyone on set to share ideas. The actor’s improvisation actually became driving forces that saved several scenes and we ended up with approx. 50% scripted and 50% improv.

TIP: From a writing point of view, It’s important to know how to use elements of your genre to your advantage, as well as what wouldn’t work. The only reason we could encourage so much improv, was because it worked in our favour with the ‘Documentary’ style.

Having a co-director on this shoot sent productivity through the roof, as the burden of decision making was halved. It meant both of us always had a go-to-person just to bounce ideas off of.

(Lexy applies some light touch-ups to Jorge Andrade’s “Michael” makeup)

(Lexy applies some light touch-ups to Jorge Andrade’s “Michael” makeup)

To Conclude

Shoots are stressful...if you let them be. But if you’re focused on enjoying the process of problem solving, you can actually have fun. We also recommend keeping an archive of scripts in your back pocket. That way, if actors/locations pull out, you have alternative material to potentially use and not waste a day booked off work.

Always be adaptable; whether you’re the director, camera-operator, or the editor, be open and allow people to respectfully stray away from the written page.

And finally, embrace your limitations - we had so many ideas we wanted to do, but restrictions meant they’d take too much time, or cost too much. We embraced our limitations and concentrated on exploring performances.

(Ben and Sound Recordist, Luise Guertler, with their portable kit setup)

(Ben and Sound Recordist, Luise Guertler, with their portable kit setup)

Our Advice

Just go out there, write a script and let everything you fall through, because guess what, sometimes life sucks (or, “Reality Bites”) but if you want to be a filmmaker, you’ll find a way to make it work.

Decide if you think 24-hours preparation was enough? Check out the film, “Reality Bites” here:

Get in touch

To find out more, get involved or get in touch, feel free to contact either of us on our respective social media accounts:

Instagram: @lexy__anderson and @benthemurray