FALMOUTH –The circus came to town on Saturday at the Falmouth Library, where filmmaker Alecia Orsini Lebeda held auditions for actors to be in a short movie she is making in May.
“It’s a circus,” she said of film making. “It’s fun, it’s a little chaotic but when it comes together it’s a great show.”
Lebeda, CEO of Good Natured Dog Productions, and her crew are entering the Boston 48-Hour Film Project, in which contestants have exactly 48 hours to complete a short film and deliver it to Lir Irish Pub & Restaurant on Boylston Street in Boston. The concept will be announced at 7 PM on Friday, May 2, and finished films must be turned in by 7 PM Sunday, May 4.
“It’s like our Falmouth Road Race,” said Lebeda of the contest.
To be ready for the competition she needs an entire cast and crew ready to go when the concept is announced on the evening of May 2. There is a writer in Kansas waiting for instructions as well. Essentially, contestants must use a specific prop, a specific character name with a specific job, and one line of dialogue. Each contestant is assigned a genre – comedy, musical, thriller etc.
“They pull it out of a hat,” she said.
Lebeda has entered several other 48-hour competitions, she said. She has done stop motion animation, a post-Apocalyptic vision of the future, a comedy about cops who are actually Chippendale dancers, a drama about an 8-year-old boy helping his single mother, and movie about someone making a web show from their bathroom and thinking they are a star.
Unlike other contests she has entered, she said she will be filming on the Cape, specifically in Falmouth, her adopted hometown.”I can make Falmouth look like anything,” she said, citing various parts of town, from Teaticket to Woods Hole, and how she can make them appear.
Although she has been part of teams entering 48-hour film contests before, this time her role is director, “in charge of the creative process,” she said. Her producer, Mandy Miller, “executes all the things I want to happen.”
For a six to seven minute film, she will have up to 60 people working on it, including actors, said Lebeda. “In film, time is money so we break down all the specific jobs,” she said. “The fun thing about film is you need all disciplines to make a film. Filmmaking is every facet of life.”
And for a 48-hour film festival, it requires a large amount of planning to be ready to make a film without any upfront plan. Not knowing what kind of film they are making had Lebeda and her crew asking random questions at auditions such as, “If you were a fish, what kind of fish would you be?” One actress, Jacqueline Gomes, said she’d be a bottom feeder, which elicited a laugh.
Lebeda said that such questions give them a glimpse into how their actors think. But they also asked if the actors felt comfortable or uncomfortable with anything. One young woman said she preferred not to play sad characters.
Alan Resnic, an actor from Boston who has worked with Good Natured Dog Productions in the past, came for the audition. He said, “Every one of them is so passionate and so professional. And obviously, they’re all crazy.”
Lebeda and her husband, Scott Lebeda, a freelance camera operator, met at the Savannah Colllege of Art & Design in 2004. They moved to the Cape in 2007. Before coming to the Cape, she said they tried both New York and Los Angeles, and didn’t like either one. “I’m a New England girl,” she said
She has worked for FCTV in Falmouth, and she currently works for WCAI public radio in Woods Hole as host and traffic coordinator and “making videos for the radio.”
Besides entering film festivals, Good Natured Dog Productions is a for-profit film company that makes music videos, commercials, and many other kinds of professional videos. “It’s an inconsistent business,” she said. “We’re technically still a startup.”
And she added, “Film making is expensive and hard. Everybody has a video camera in their pocket. Why do they want to hire me?”
Plenty have found reason to hire her and many others have found reason to volunteer to work with her on the juggling act that is the 48-hour Film Festival.
Christopher Pamula, a production assistant from from New Hampshire, was working in Pennsylvania and drove nine hours to help Good Natured Dog Productions with the auditions. “This is what I love to do,” he said. “I find positives in everything. Getting to meet new people is bliss for me.” Being involved with film, said Pamula, “is something I’ve always wanted to do. I feel irritated if someone asks me what my plan B is.”
And Dillon Laurino, 17 of Forestdale, is helping as a production assistant, which he defined as “all the little jobs.” He does this, he said, just so he can be around and work with “a lot of creative people. It is really crazy, very fast paced. It has helped me get over my shyness. I’ve been doing stuff like this for eight years. It’s amazing that I was able to get in with this group of people.”
After the auditions, Lebeda said she was very impressed by the diversity of talent, and especially loved when she was approached by someone who had never acted. “I had a little old lady call and say she has no acting experience and she asked, ‘Do you need little old ladies?’ I love that, “ said Lebeda.
In the middle of March, she was preparing the steps necessary to have everyone ready when the assignment comes in on the evening of May 2.
First, the writer will put together a script and by Saturday morning, she said, filming should commence. “When we wrap filming, most of the crew disappears,” she said. “That’s when there’s a wave of terror. We have to finish this thing.”
Some of her crew members live in Boston, so the editing will be done there to be closer to the drop-off point. “Editing out of the car is not out of the question,” she said. That’s the moment in the circus, apparently, when the trapeze artist shows up.
Until then, she said, she is looking for donations of food and drink for the crew, as well as potential locations.
— Brian Tarcy