The End

Watch the trailer

The End was my third short film project at the New York Film Academy. The assignment was to do a piece with music, and most of the students elected to do things like walk around Central Park shooting various random shots and putting the mess to John Lennon's "Imagine". Needless to say, they were, well, drivel.

I had had an idea during one of our previous daily exercises for a scary abstract piece about a man walking or being led through a series of rooms until he finds himself alone in the last one, unable to escape. It was difficult to explain to the others in the group, however, and through the collaborative process the idea got watered down and changed so much that I gave up on it (this is why I'd rather have complete creative control over my projects). The exercise turned out poorly, of course.

So I turned to my next film project, the music one. As I lay on my mattress on the wooden floor in the apartment of one of the only Chinese families in the Puerto Rican section of Brooklyn, I listened to music by Philip Glass and envisioned my short film. It seemed to work pretty well, at least in my imagination.

I went through the headshots at the academy and eventually found a couple of actors to help me with the project. One of my crew, Anders, was off on a modelling shoot somewhere in Europe, so all I had to help me was the remaining member of my crew, Scott. Scott and Anders alternated in not being there for my films (Scott visited his children in Switzerland on alternating weekends). Either one was there or the other, but never both. It was quite maddening.

I began filming with the grudging permission of the people at the academy, in the lobby downstairs on 18th Street. The academy is located in a wonderful old theater building on Union Square, but there's a rule against using it for filming. Luckily it was a weekend, so I cajoled Wing, one of the staff, not only into letting me use the lobby, but him as an extra as well.

Wondering what's next


Shot from the lobby



My only props were some dog collars I had bought at a nearby store and an encyclopedia I borrowed from the library. Scott wheeled me in a wheelchair for the opening shot. Then we filmed the ending shot outside of the door of the academy, and then we went to Scott's rented room a few blocks away to film the "room" scene. We took everything off the walls and placed it and all of the furniture to one side so that the room looked empty, and then did some slow-motion shots of Dennis, the main actor, running towards the window. Then Scott rolled me towards the window at a run in the wheelchair, nearly throwing me out of the window in the process. Then I filmed the one long shot, slowly lowering the camera so that Dennis rises almost imperceptably in the frame as he comes to the conclusion that he must jump to get out of the room.

I hung out over the side of the building, one of my crew holding my legs for this shot. Taken about 50 yards east of the World Trade Center.

We then proceeded to the downstairs lobby of a friend of Anders a block north. They buzzed us in and we went up to explain what we wanted to do, but there were no electrical outlets in the dark lobby, so we strung extension cords down the stairwell to the lobby and got a nice effect, as shown in the still at the top of this page.

The last shot was the one looking down to a street far below. For this I used a shot from the top of a building in lower Manhattan, about 50 yards east of the World Trade Center, which loomed over the entire area. Scott held my legs as I stretched out over the building's edge, holding the camera out. I am not usually afraid of heights, but that stunt gave me the jitters. I was glad to get it in the can.

After that it was just a matter of editing and putting it to the music, composed and performed by my friend Simon. On the big screen it became haunting and thrilling at the same time, almost exactly as I had envisioned it, although Dennis is a bit of a "hand actor", which comes as no surprise as he teaches Aikido at nights. All in all, I'm very happy with The End; I think it's my best creative effort to date.

The End was accepted into the International Festival of Cinema and Technology 2002, held in Toronto in late September, 2002, and is viewable (and reviewable if you like) on the Triggerstreet Film website.