72-Hour Film Competition — Sunday

Klein bottle -- Photo by Carolyn McIntyreSunday was another beautiful day, but all the filming we had left to do was, of course, indoors. Saturday we stood around in the rain on the Glass Bridge; Sunday we stood around in the garage or the basement with no windows and a fog machine. And dry ice. Did I mention that dry ice is a lot of fun to play with?

Our talent was magnificent — Megan Lindholm (aka Robin Hobb) played Elfrieda, and her niece Jennifer Lindholm played Alberta. And thank you also to Alison Jensen, recruited on the Glass Bridge, who played Tiffany on no notice. Kat’s dad Fred created us a wonderful debris field, and her brother Giles created a control room. (He also fed us!) My sister’s RV stood in for the transport’s drawing room, complete with antimacassars. Erik, a friend of Kat Ogden (the director), and an essential part of the film crew, was the robot wrangler.

For the competition, we had to include four elements. This is to make sure you start from scratch and don’t bring along a five-minute film you spent the last ten years polishing.

The four elements:

  • A phrase: “They don’t make ’em like they used to.”
  • An action: Washing
  • A situation: A misunderstanding
  • A prop: A container

For the container, I wrote a Klein bottle into the script. This presented a problem since while you can in fact buy a Klein bottle from the Acme Klein Bottle Company, you can’t order one on Friday and have it in hand for Saturday shooting. I was prepared to revise the script — But I had the feeling that the Seattle SF community would come through for me, and indeed they did. Tom Lawrence offered to lend us his — he has two! — and Erik was able to bring them down from Seattle for us.

In a movie, things are not always as they seem.If I’d ever done this before, I would have known to write a much simpler script with fewer sets (it had four, if you count several places in the Museum as one, or seven if you count each separately). And I probably wouldn’t have counted on luck or karma to provide a difficult prop. I wouldn’t have used a German word that even the scriptwriter can’t pronounce. (This isn’t surprising, considering I don’t speak German, but the French word was too much like the English word it was standing in for. The German word, on the other hand, was too dissimilar.) (I changed it).

That said, I think the Klein bottle worked great. Even the stunt double bottle worked great, and I brought the Klein bottles home safe and sound. I did behave a little like one of those jewelry wranglers for the Oscars, keeping a close eye on the bottles and putting them back in their box between scenes.

It does occur to me that the competition judges could disqualify our movie on the grounds that a Klein bottle, having no inside and no outside, is not, technically, a container.

On the other hand, the movie also contains a basket full of prop-wash, not to mention a satchel and a sippy-cup. On seeing the rough cut, Kat’s little boy said, “I like that movie!  You used my water cup! Yey! Can you make another one right now?”

As Kat said, Not tonight, kid.


I blog here every Sunday, and irregularly otherwise as the spirit takes me.

Dreamsnake is now available at Book View Cafe, serialized by the chapter on Sundays, or by subscription to the complete ebook (Mobipocket/Palm, html, PDF). You should read it. It’s pretty good.

You can also find The Moon and the Sun at Book View Cafe, where a new chapter is featured each week.It’s pretty good too.

For print copies of The Moon and the Sun and my other SF novels, visit my website’s Basement Full of Books.



72-Hour Film Competition — Sunday — 3 Comments

  1. A Klein Bottle having no inside and no out, thus contains the entire universe in it’s remit. I once got thrown out of a high school physics class for insisting that the universe was a Klein bottle.

  2. Next time you need a German word pronounced, call me. I studied German a good many years and even if it’s a word I don’t know (highly probable) I can pronounce it. German pronunciation is *very* regular.


  3. Martha — it’s a shame some teachers have neither sense of wonder nor sense of humor.

    Mary Kay — thanks, I’ll remember that. How the heck do you pronounce “Flüssigkeit” anyway?