Barrage: The Making of a Short Film – Introduction

Featured — By on March 23, 2006 at 10:22 am

Hello, my name is Craig Cirelli, CFP Board Member and writer, producer and director of “Barrage” – a short film for the upcoming Community Film Project’s CFP Shorts series, which kicks off early this summer at Endless Mountain Theater. “Barrage” is one of ten short films taking part in this event.

The idea for “Barrage” came to me last summer, after I had just finished editing “Cubes” – a feature-length film directed by Jason Sherry. Jason and I had been kicking around an idea for a feature-length action movie for some time, but we knew the next year would be spent promoting “Cubes”. So when the first CFP Shorts series was announced, I decided to write an action / sci-fi short. I knew I wanted to make a movie that was loud, fast, and entertaining. I wanted it to have as much action as possible, and at the same time, I wanted the characters to be interesting. Finally, I just wanted to make a movie that has bullets flying and stuff getting blown up.

Early on, I realized there were going to be some challenges making this film. First, the story takes place soon after WWII. I needed authentic clothing, gear, and weapons (three of my four characters are soldiers). CFP President Jeff Fowler found most of what I needed at a local flea market (Sugarman’s), so I borrowed a few things and bought the rest for $70. I also borrowed some hollowed-out grenades and an M1 Carbine rifle from a friend. I made my bazooka for $6 using PVC from Lowe’s and some old green spray paint.

Second, this movie needed to be shot entirely outdoors, in the woods.. in late February / early March. I was completely at the mercy of the weather. Of course, the first scheduled shoot was snowed out.. so we decided to hold a rehearsal that afternoon. The following Sunday we had a sunny day and I was able to shoot a little more than half of the footage I needed, which was my goal for the day. The second (and final) shoot was completely rained out, so we re-scheduled for this Sunday, 3/26. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Third – hopefully without giving too much away – quite a few shots in “Barrage” require some heavy effects. Explosions, bullet hits, smoke, and models – all added during post-production using 3D and effects software. Even though this is a short film, these shots will be very time consuming to pull off the right way. Also, there are a few things I need to learn, pretty much along the way. I’ve always been a big fan of project-based learning. There’s no greater motivation than a hard deadline, and people tapping their toes waiting for you to get something done.

So I have some long nights ahead of me to get this all done by late April, but I’m really enjoying the work. And my actors (Jason Sherry, Ellen O’Brien, Joe Palumbo, and Jack Evans) make my job a lot easier too – they are unbelievably talented and bring years of experience to this project. My brother Russell Cirelli is handling sound effects and music, and my friend Rocco Castellano helped write the final screenplay and sketched out some early model designs. This project would not be happening without any of the people mentioned above.

I’ll post here hopefully once per week during the next month or so. Feel free to leave comments, ask questions, or contact me via the Community Film Project web site (www.communityfilmproject.org). Check out the photos from our first shoot (and a few other CFP Shorts films) here:
http://www.communityfilmproject.org/blog/2006/03/behind-scenes-photos.html

    6 Comments

  • forart says:

    Glad to hear about a local artist making strides towards accomplishing his vision. Good luck to you….

  • Craig says:

    Thank you forart. :)

  • Jack says:

    There are a number of efforts going on in the area to be putting together more film it seems. I guess the accessibility of high end equipment has bumped the industry as a whole. I know there is a Scranton Film Office now that is trying to raise the profile of local projects and attract national projects to the area. Hopefully all of these great efforts will gain some synergy.

  • forart says:

    Late April is here…How goes the project? Have all necessary items been blown up? When can we expect a premier???

  • Craig says:

    Hi forart,

    I tend to bury myself when I’m working on this stuff, time gets away from me. Sorry I haven’t posted again, but even with the best of intentions I somehow knew that would happen. :\

    So, project update: all footage has been shot and I’m wrapping up the Endless Mountain Theatre edit (the 5-minute cut) this week. My first rough cut came in at 7:12, the second at 6:08 (this will be the version that goes up on IFC). Not sure why I thought I could get away with a 6-page script for a 5-minute film.. but at least I have a longer version for other sites / festivals.

    My brother is doing all my sound fx and music, so he’s hard at work. He’s in Minnesota, and we’ve been swapping files across the net to make this happen. It’s working out well actually. The stuff he’s coming up with is very cool and adds a lot to the project.

    I’ve been prepping my 3D models and getting them ready for animation & compositing. This part is huge fun for me, but also challenging. Selling these shots as real takes some planning. I also shot this entire film on a (home-made) steadycam, because from the beginning I wanted Barrage to have a raw documentary style to it. This made for super quick shot setups during filming, but it also means all my CG shots have to be match-moved. Not a huge deal, just a little more work but hopefully it will pay off.

    Finally, all 9 films were recently matched up with their big Hollywood counterparts for the EMT festival. Each of our short films gets paired with one Hollywood movie, and is played before every showing of that movie for one whole week – pretty cool. So, the festival will last for a total of 9 weeks at EMT. I’m REALLY happy with the film that Barrage was paired with.. :D

  • Craig says:

    Woops, hit the ole’ Submit button early. Anyway, thanks for checking in. I’ll check back before the release. Oh, to answer your question about the release – Barrage will be running in early July at EMT. Not sure yet if we (the CFP) will be holding any public screenings prior to that. If so, I’ll be sure to let you know here.

    Thanks & take care-
    craig

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