Christopher Columbus Saves the World is finally here! Watch all three parts and then read below for a little more information about the movie.
I wrote the first draft of CCStW in January 2013 (the day after writing Showdown at Sullivan Oaks). We had just finished the marathon filming session for seasons 2 through 5 of Peter Bear’s Den, and I was taking a small break before all of its post-production. I wanted to write a movie that played with suspension-of-disbelief, time travel movie tropes, and NOT introducing paradoxical plot holes.
I had no intention of filming it, but as others continued expressing enthusiasm for it, it seemed more and more possible to do by ourselves. I think we fully committed to the idea when Andrew Mackin (Mystic River) got the script and eagerly wanted to play Christopher.
We shot and completed Fragmentation, shot Showdown at Sullivan Oaks, shot and completed Out for Delivery, and I completed all post-production (including music) on Peter Bear’s Den before diving in head-first into CCStW.
Lindsay and I teamed up with Andrew, Scott Seagren, and Heidi Cox to get stuff in order for the shoot, since this was going to be a pretty intensive shoot for a 40-page microbudget film. Casting, locations, props, and all that glamorous stuff. There is a lot that could be said about the pre-production phase that could best be experienced through the (highly dramatized) webseries project Weekly Meeting…
This was the longest project we had yet done in Los Angeles, and we learned how truly stifling it can be. Outrageous hourly rates for locations, permit and insurance requirements, etc., really hit hard when we were trying to nail down very specific and interesting-looking locations that couldn’t be substituted: a ghost town and a science lab. And to make matters worse, we lost a DJI Phantom Drone with GoPro Hero 3 attached testing it at Pioneer Town. (The drone was recovered 5 months later, but the GoPro is still in the possession of a particularly crafty desert-dwelling creature who makes ProTune home movies.)
Fortunately, we found Simone Aloisio at CSUCI Channel Islands, who was extremely helpful and accommodating, and Silver City Ghost Town. Without both of these, we would have probably been stopped in our tracks, unable to move forward.
We shot for 11 days to complete the film, including a couple of simple pick-up days. I used a Blackmagic Cinema Camera with a Letus AnamorphX 1.33x anamorphic adapter, which I finally received only a couple of days before we began shooting. We shot 2.5K raw with the BMCC for the entire movie, to experiment with natural light and the dynamic range and process of the raw workflow.
The shoot days were hard. We had to solve problems. But that is the life of the independent filmmaker, and some of those problems are just really not worth sharing publicly. Ask me in private some day. We didn’t have enough personnel, but we also only had permission for a small number of people in our locations.
I knew I wanted to have a “big budget” score for the movie to further play into the suspension-of-disbelief component of the movie, and my buddy Kevin Rogers’s string quartet Friction Quartet and Doug Perkins agreed to record my score:
Despite being locked down in the music arena, the rest of the movie audio was not perfect. Audio engineer Nikola Simikic did the best wizardry he could, but the science lab at CSUCI that we filmed in had a variety of loud but do-not-turn-this-shit-off equipment that we had to work around. And that noise had seeped pretty hard into the lavalier and boom mics. So I had to make the difficult decision of either having the opening important scenes of the movie be manipulated to best possible sound given the circumstances OR we needed to redub the whole movie (to give it consistent sound). We ended up doing the latter in September/October of 2013. It was not a short or easy process.
The film was finally completed in early December 2013, and I’m glad it’s finally out in the open. I hope you enjoy it!
– Alex Wroten, writer/director