Sunday, March 2, 2014


By Laura P. Valtorta

Screen writing involves more collaboration than writing a novel or a poem. To be serious at all, the writer needs to submit the screenplay to intense criticism in a class or from an editor. The criticism relates to the form of the story, the style of the writing, and the visual aspects of the film. Nobody writes screenplays for friends and family. Screenplays are written for production. Ultimately, they need the approval of a spouse, a best friend, business people, and plenty of enemies. Truth tellers.

Making an independent film requires the involvement of even more people: producers, cinematographers, lighting engineers, gaffers, and production designers. Musicians. Actors. The director relies on a team.

Recently I traveled to Washington, DC to film an interview with the head of a large company. This interview, if I can obtain the right to use it, will be the centerpiece of my documentary. I discovered that while writing the narration for the film as we neared the end of initial shooting. I needed that interview.

In order to shoot the interview, I required the help of many players. The CEO’s assistant, Tom, had been instrumental in scheduling the time and place. My husband, Marco, came along to keep me company and give advice. To do the filming, I had hired a Washington-based film company called “Blue Sky.”

Blue Sky sent me a cinematographer named “Jackson.” He was a friendly guy who wore a ski hat and a down jacket throughout the entire shoot. He came in with three huge bundles of equipment that he unpacked and set up fast. We tried out the lighting and sound, and then we waited.

The CEO arrived 30 minutes late accompanied by her COO. By then I was high on coffee and cold weather. Outside it was snowing a little. I wondered whether we would make our flight home.

The CEO settled right into the hot seat. She had read my questions and maybe even practiced several of the answers. I threw in a couple more questions to make her think. She answered those as well. I admired her training and expertise. She stated she had an engineering degree and an MBA. She showed me pictures of her young family.

Once the filming was over, Marco and I dashed out of the hotel. We grabbed a cab to take us all the way to Dulles – something we’ve never done before. The cab driver became part of the filmmaking process, too. We arrived at the airport in time to catch one of the last planes to leave before the snowstorm hit.

More than anything else, filmmaking is just plain fun.

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