Future // Tense

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We live in amazing times.

Yeah, that’s a cliche BUT seriously, how the Hell else do you explain being able to concoct a movie trailer, film it, layer it with effects, edit it, add a soundtrack, process it and put it on the web in under 60 minutes from first pitch to final product? That’s exactly what the kids and I did yesterday.

Saturday August 24, 2013 was one of those BEAUTIFUL last blast of Summer days in New England. With the kids due to start school this Tuesday, a pall has settled over them – especially Colin – who is feeling quite a bit melancholy these past few days as the reality sinks in that he has left his beloved Elementary School behind and is about to step forward into the brave new world of Middle School. I think he knows that’s the place where personal responsibility and independence ramps up big time; and while I know he’ll do just fine – it’s got him seriously worried.

When I woke yesterday morning to a brilliant blue sky – with the temps promising to settle a degree or two due south of 80 – and not a hint of humidity in the air; I knew I had to get these two out and about to enjoy the day and free their minds of any undo worry. After all, I know in a few short days, once the unknown becomes known to him – Colin’s sickly worries will subside and all will be right with his world. So the less time spent in idle thought, the better.

So there we were on a mostly vacant playground – soaking up the fresh August air that felt suspiciously like mid-September (warm sun with a hint of early Fall chill) – when I overheard the two of them pretending that Aria was from the future and the playground equipment had become a massive network of time machines. I smiled knowing he was chasing more fanciful notions for a change and not trying to make our mundane reality unnecessarily scary.

I suddenly remembered the Action Movie FX app I had downloaded for my iPhone several months earlier. This free app – designed by JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot production company – grants you the ability to overlay special effects shots over your own videos – in 5 – 10 second segments. If you frame it just right, you can make some decently sophisticated looking selections – or, at the very least, effects work that’s better than most of what you see on your typical SyFy Mega Shark vs. Piranhaconda flick.

This past Summer, Bad Robot added some new filters – tied in with their latest Star Trek flick – one of which is the transporter sequence. So, my original plan was just to film Aria and Colin teleporting in – just to add to their little game. I figured they would get a kick out of seeing themselves teleport in and out each time they said they were traveling to and from the future. Just another seed planted in their fertile imaginations.

Once we shot the teleportation scenes, the light bulb flickered. “Let’s make a movie trailer”. So, we went on the assumption that they were twins sent from the future – one good – the other evil. Think of it as Disney’s Race to Witch Mountain mashed up with The Terminator (and now that I write that; I know somebody in Hollywood has just greenlit that very premise. Damn it – I’ve got to remember to brainstorm a little quieter.)

We then filmed two quick scenes of each of them declaring they had come from the future. I decided to cameo as a guy having a real bad day – although not as bad as his poor Toyota Corrola. We settled on Aria as the villain as Colin said he was only contractually bound to deliver one line per flick – although he had no problem doing all of his own stunts in the big helicopter crash that ends the teaser.

All told, it took us 10 minutes to film our scenes. Then we hopped in the car for the 5-minute drive home – where we batted around potential titles – each a variation on the words “future” or “time”. We almost settled on Time Out; as the kids felt the concept of a Time Out carried such dread but finally we went with Future Tense. Not sure why. I think we just thought it sounded cool.

So, that’s 15 minutes of total production time.

When we got in the door, it took us about 5 minutes to get settled and upload the videos to the Mac – where we worked in iMovie for about 20 minutes, editing the clips in order, adding titles and overlaying a soundtrack (stolen from The X-Files movie) while tweaking the dialogue audio so it mixed just right. Once things were locked in place, we finalized the project and saved it as a movie file (a process that takes about 20 minutes for the HD format). That put us at 55 minutes – with 1 or 2 minutes left to pop it on YouTube and post it on Facebook. Once the kids realized we could put it on YouTube, they babbled excitedly about telling their friends at school on Tuesday to check it out. Hmmmmm – maybe this will help my little man in ways I didn’t originally foresee.

All it took was one measly hour to go from original idea to finished product for all of our world to see.

And now it’s got our brains spinning. Imagine if we ACTUALLY had a script to work with! And TWO HOURS to play with!! The possibilities are endless.

The future is now.

Comments now closed (4)

    • Judging by how quickly Colin has jumped on the script (and his plan to recruit classmates to play additional time travelers) I think we may have this On Demand this Fall.

  • That’s pretty awesome! And you’re right, this might help Colin gain some solid footing in that minefield that is middle school. Just be prepared to be the Cool Dad who puts his friends in his movies!
    But seriously, Ed Zone Productions? Get some pumpkin Gatorade in them- you may have another pumpkin beverage of your choice- and brainstorm something with THEIR names in it! You’re not fooling me, I know where the real talent is, as the money guy, you will reap enough rewards when Hollywood comes calling!