The founding (and short-lived) principle of Terminal Velocity Films was to do more with less. Way less. Like … nothing. The equipment we had was typical of the hardware available in 2018: Pretty decent for a relatively small sum of money. All the equipment we used on our first semi-serious production, the Terms and Conditions Re-Make, cost less than $2,000 in total, and most of it we already had on hand.
We also did more with less (“fewer” to be gramattically correct) people. The entire crew was my son, Jackson, and me. My wife, Tammy, supplied a voiceover and an old friend, Dave Poole, contributed the music.
Jackson and I staged and shot everything. Jackson did what little artwork was needed for the shoot. Tammy stood in the kitchen and read her part into a recorder. I did all the post-production, including editing, the shoe effects, tweaking audio and laying in the music Dave provided.
After the film was done, I essentially created the “company”, Terminal Velocity Films (named after the fictitious band Jackson and I made up for playing “Rock Band”). In a matter of days, I created a logo, Twitter feed (but we’ve quit Twitter since), YouTube channel and an IMDb page for the short film. And, of course, this website.
The Problem with Less
The problem with doing more with nearly nothing is probably obvious: It’s limiting. I don’t mind wearing lots of hats and doing a ton of work. I was so excited about it all that I couldn’t really stop! I guess that’s the definition of a “passion project”.
However, there is only so much you can do with so little. Jackson and I had to play all the roles, and with three roles and two people, I had to double up. I had hoped viewers would see my Iggy character as “not me”, but I have it on good authority that it’s all too obvious that Dad and Iggy are the same guy.
Oh, and you may have noticed this: We’re not actors. Sure, I’ve toyed with the idea of acting over the years and Jackson was stellar at the lead in his High School musical (as a freshman, no less!), but as he recently told me, acting is not his thing. And although I don’t mind acting, I think I may not be… you know… good. And I recently figured out that what I really wanted was to make the film, not so much be in it.
Less? Or “Too Little”?
I think the problem is really about trying to do something interesting with too little or, to state it another way, not enough. I still think less is more, but too little is definitely bad.
I’m sure it’s naive to say, but it is hard to imagine spending millions to make a film. Or to have on staff the hundreds of people whose names scroll by at the end of a major motion picture. If I can shoot something watchable, in 4K using a camera setup that costs tens of hundreds of dollars, do I really gain much by using a camera setup that costs tens of thousands?
There has to be a sweet spot where there is a reasonable amount of people using reasonably-priced equipment. It seems like a small, perhaps not even noticeable reduction in quality would be offset by a gain in agility, flexibility and lack of inertia.
Quite a Bit More
Thanks to the pandemic, we’ve been unable to get back to the short film business for quite a while. While we’ve been “awa”, our compnany (not this one; the one that supplies us a living wage!) has been upgrading and accumulating better equipment for use in making its own videos. And we get to use it for making our next short film!
We’ll detail what that equipment is when we get through our next project, which is Cincinnati’s 48 Hour Film Project, 2023 edition.
We’ll post all about it here when it happens!