How to start, how to start...that's always the question.
Today is our travel day. Atlanta to Denver to Salt Lake City to Park City. And it's strangely uneventful. I say that because for the last year, I have been doubled booked in rentals homes, shown up at the airport to find my reservations didn't exist and been trapped in the airport overnight due to an earthquake knocking out the power grid in Honolulu. This morning, there was no traffic, there was no line at Air Tran and no line at security. Totally uneventful...except for the fact that I'm arriving in Park City on 1 hour of sleep!
I guess to start I should bring you up to speed on The Signal; its origins, its development and its players.
Let's start with Dailies (www.dailiesatlanta.org).
A little over four years ago, a group of local filmmakers, actors, directors, and play writes joined forces to create Dailies at PushPush Theater in Decatur. They challenged each other to create experimental films with a common theme that would explore different areas of filmmaking to help them grow as artists. This wasn't just another screening opportunity, this was a workshopping process with critical discussion, rough cut screenings and lots of collaboration.
Today, Dailies filmmakers have created over 100 short films, and the features 'Last Goodbye', 'Psychopathia Sexualis' and 'The Signal' have been produced by Dailies directors who have tapped the resources of the collective to help get their projects completed. All three features have gone on to play at major festivals and were picked up for distribution; Jacob Gentry's 'Last Goodbye' is available on Warner's Home Video, Bret Woods' 'Psychopathia Sexualis' can be found at Kino International and 'The Signal'...well, it's gonna get distribution...I mean, it's in Sundance right? ;)
OK...what does this really have to do with The Signal? Around two years ago, a new challenge was thrown out on the table. Exquisite Corpse for 5. The idea was that one filmmaker would write, shoot and edit a 20 minute piece, then pass that completed work onto the next filmmaker. Then that filmmaker would have to pick up the story and run with it for another 20 minutes and so on and so on and so on. Great idea, but it never got past the first two pieces. Jacob Gentry was the next director in line, but we were all busy producing his feature debut 'Last Goodbye'. The project sat on the shelf waiting for someone to pick up the torch and carry on.
Flash forward to the fall of 2005. Jacob and Alex were working to raise the funds for their next feature, when an investor approached them with a unique and different opportunity. Could they make a film really inexpensively, turn it around quickly and make a profit selling it straight to video? Of course! But what to do? It had to be a horror film. Instantly, they thought of the Exquisite Corpse project.
To use this concept, they knew they would have to redevelop the project and start from scratch. They would begin with 3 of the 5 original directors, Dave Bruckner, Jacob Gentry and Dan Bush. Frank Lopez of Submedia had moved to Toronto and David Edmond Moore was busy prepping to direct a spot for Georgia Pacific in Miami, so both had to pass on participating. For two months, the three directors and producer Alex Motlagh locked themselves in a room, discussing different ideas and writing. Then rewriting and rewriting and arguing and crying and rewriting some more until all three were satisfied they had something special.
In January of 2006, production began. Strangely, I had made plans a few months before that to go to Park City. I missed the last four days of shooting to go enjoy movies at Sundance.
We would have never dreamed that one year later, we would all be going with The Signal for a premiere at The Sundance Film Festival.