October 21, 2003


This past weekend, along with 15 other individuals, I took part in the National Film Challenge. The challenge consists of this: Participating teams are given a genre, character and occupation, prop, and a line of dialogue which must all be represented in a short film ranging from 4-8 minutes in duration. The assignments are sent via email at 7pm on Friday. The film must then be written, filmed and in the mail, time-stamped, by noon on the following Monday. The majority of us had never made a live-action film (but many of us have animation experience), so we all jumped at the chance. As you can imagine, the coffee pot was constantly being refilled and there was little room for sleep.

This is what we ended up with:

  • Genre - Spy
  • Character and Occupation - Jessie Thomas, Success Coach
  • Prop - Bicycle
  • Line of Dialogue - “Can’t you see I’m working here?”
We brainstormed and wrote until the sun came up. Collected supplies, costumes, and props in the morning, and began shooting after lunch. The shoot lasted for about 9 hours, after which we all collapsed. On Sunday, we edited, synced with music and sound, and created an animated title sequence. The entire process took 58 hours, start to finish, from 7pm Friday to 5am Monday.

All in all, I am very pleased and proud of the results. A tremendous amount of work went into this project, and a hell of a lot got finished in just a weekend (even if halfway through the shoot we punished ourselves with about 10 pounds of food from Burger King).

We had the luxury of professional lighting, sound, and cameras as well as an original score created just for this film. My apartment was the set, which took little dressing up (luckily too, because there really wasn’t time). Stunning performances were given by Ian, Pete, and Liz, and great teamwork was exhibited by all.

A great big thanks and congratulations goes out to everyone involved. As is usually the case when we do this sort of thing, we went a bit overboard with the details and created a companion website to go with the film. So, without further delay, here it is, Dial-a-Spy. Enjoy, and please post your thoughts.

Commentary (6):

1. Kevin Cornell says… oct 21, 2003 | 8:52 am

I loved it! The cast was HOT!

2. mary says… oct 21, 2003 | 9:31 am

your film is the bomb. tr’s rad! i also must add that ian is the funniest person.… ever.

3. PeterSantaMaria says… oct 24, 2003 | 11:03 am


Seriously guys and gals involved with this project , you all did a fabulous job! The video looks so cool! And it was a very funny script, good camera work (did you use regular ‘ol cameras or digital video?!), sets and shots looked real good, just overall a very entertaining piece of video. I can’t see how you could not get some sorta award for Dial-A-Spy!

My only complaint is that we don’t actually get to see Rob’s face on camera. That was a disappointment, but I guess you had a time restraint for the actual video length.

4. Jason Santa Maria says… oct 24, 2003 | 11:51 am

Actually, we tried, but the lens broke. We ended up having to finish using the back-up camera. Oooo…burn!

5. ROb Weychert says… oct 27, 2003 | 8:07 am

Actually, we kept my face out of it in case this film was ever screened theatrically. Movie theaters generally aren’t well-equipped for crowd control, and the Beatles-esque hysteria that would surely break out among the young ladies in attendance—squealing and fainting and the like—could prove problematic.

6. RJ Hampden says… nov 3, 2003 | 4:53 pm

Hey, Mary, I just did what they told me to do.
ROb and Jason did a truly amazing job at keeping the entire process as organized as possible.
I’ll be begging them to help me on my shoots into the future.