Best Music – Jerry Wood & Jay Blanchard – “Where Is She?” (USA)

Title: Where Is She?
Runtime: 46 min
Country: USA
Director: Jerry Wood
Placement: Award of Excellence + Best Music (Jerry Wood & Jay Blanchard)
Competition: September 30, 2019

Synopsis: Jeff takes Mary on a vacation that she’s reluctant to go on. They stay in an oddly decorated rustic cabin with no modern amenities. The strange wall hangings, antiques, and minimalist living accommodations aren’t the strangest things they have to deal with. Jeff and Mary suffer memory loss and torment after Sarah’s trick or treat encounter. Unable to get rid of her, Jeff and Mary try to figure out what’s going on through clues left by Sarah.

Filmmaker Q&A – Jerry Wood, Producer/Director/Writer/Editor

GS: What was the inspiration for your film?

JW: I was originally going to write it as a dark comedy after seeing and loving “Tucker and Dale vs Evil”. I loved the concept of filming a horror but integrating humor. After finishing the script I started to think, if I’m going to go to all this effort to make this film; I would really like to film it strictly as a horror. Shortly after deciding that, I met Dan Flanders of Manic Mart at a Comic Con and saw all his wonderful masks. It was then that I realized that I could incorporate masks really easily into the script giving it a full on halloween theme since it already had a candy element in the story. So I worked on a re-write, adding in a new beginning to the story so that I could give the actresses interested in playing Sarah lines they could read at the audition.

GS: When did you conceive the idea for your film and how long did it take before it was realized?

JW: I came up with the idea for “Where Is She?” in the Fall of 2014 and shaped it to be filmed mostly on a set that we would build in my two car garage. That way I had control of the set, lighting, and sound for as long as I needed to finish the film, since I worked a full time job. I spent the next year in Pre-production working on figuring out the set layout. I literally started planning the layout by building it in Minecraft. Two foot square for every block seemed about right. I figure out how much space I had and what furniture and props I could fit where. Eventually I graduated to using Frame Forge for the final construction set drawings where I could put texture to the walls and add set props to the design. Moving props and furniture around to figure out the best lay-out in the space I had available. The plan was to use only part of the 24ft square garage. I would leave a 5 foot walkway in the front of the set and a 3 foot walkway on the left side of the set for storage, building tools, and access to the back side of the set. My father passed away in November of 2015 and I took a year break from working on the production to mourn, get his affairs in order, and help my mom with getting financially stable. In the Fall of 2016 my wife told me about an auction at a near by college where they were selling film equipment and furniture. That December, I picked up my winnings from the auction which included the kitchen cabinets that were used on set. My mom passed away a month later. I mourned again and took care of her affairs.  Pressing on, I met Dan Flanders and his wonderful masks at a Comic-Con in April of 2017.  I commissioned Dan to make me 6 masks and proceeded to work them into the script. My friends Chris Lamore and R.W. Martin, who played Jeff, started building the set in May of 2017.  By June, R.W. and I were working on casting. We started filming that next Labor Day weekend. We finished principle photography in February of 2018, pickup shot and POV’s in spring of 2018, and editing in August of 2019.

GS: What was the most challenging aspect of working in a short film format?

JW: I honestly don’t feel there are any significant differences between filming a feature or a short. Granted on a feature, you film for more days and probably have a bigger cast and crew. But the process is the same, just longer.  Also, my film is 46 minutes long and is classified as a feature in some festivals and a short in others. Ultimately I consider my film a feature by IMDB standards of 45 minutes or longer. When I started writing “Where Is She?” I intended it to be a short, but didn’t restrict myself to any length limitations. I simply stopped writing when the story was finished. I guess the most challenging aspect would be figuring out what to do with the film when I was done with it. There aren’t a lot of venues for short films. My plan after the festival circuit, is to try and get it show at comic-cons and other similar venues, as well as selling Blu-Ray and DVD’s.

GS: What was the most challenging aspect of your production?

JW: I’ve always said, making a movie is easy. It’s getting all of the cast and crew together in the same place at the same time. Everyone that worked on this project, for the most part, had full time jobs. We all had other projects, personal endeavors, and responsibilities that made scheduling difficult. Since filmmaking wasn’t our full time job, we worked on the production when we could. Scheduling out months in advance. Distance was also a factor. Sandy lives in Rutland, R. W. lives in Springfield, Ellie and Tina came up from Rhode Island to be a part of this production. Laura was the only local actress.

GS: Do you have any advice for first-time filmmakers?

JW: Don’t give up and make the film the best it can be. I’m sure you’re like me, always excited to get to the next stage. Once finished writing, you can’t wait for pre-production. Once there, you can’t wait to start filming… then editing, and so on and so forth. It’s when you get to that point of exhaustion because you’ve struggled while filming, then you’ve struggled while editing and you just want to be finished with the whole thing; that’s when you need to stay diligent. It will be tempting to cut corners or say… “ah, this is good enough”. Realize that you’ve spent a lot of time, energy, and money to make your film. Don’t give up on it. Overcoming the current challenge at hand has always inspired me to keep going. I had know idea, at the end, when I reached final cut; that I would win any awards. I just knew that I was proud of what we accomplished and felt good about the film.