Derek Griffith’s Little Plastic Disk: A Filmmaker on His Film

17 Sep

We’ve shown you two scenes from Derek Griffith’s D*I*Y. Here are his words about what went on behind those clips and the rest of the film as it was being made. D*I*Y wasn’t exactly DIY. Here’s Derek’s explanation.


Zoom in: we reveal a high school senior holding a boom-mic above his head. Pan left: a Pima Student dims a 2,000 watt light. Tilt Down: High-top Chucks are strapped tightly to the feet of a Theater Arts student. Dolly Out: A 13-year-old actress stands next to him. Pull Focus: A 60-year-old grandfather claps the slate. More exposure on the audio guy! Bring down the levels on the 8-year-old kid sister. Elementary. Middle School. High School. College. Amateur. Professional. Retired. So what’s missing on this movie set? Answer: DIY.

There is no such thing as DIY (the acronym for “Do It Yourself”) when it comes to success in filmmaking, and the Summer of 2009 was testament to that. A quick glance around the room reveals a movie being shot about the story of a kid who goes about life doing it all alone–but that’s only through the eye of the lens. Behind that lens, however, is a High Definition camera, and behind that camera is something bigger than the movie itself: relationships. We come into focus on our HD monitor and we see many walks of life coming together with the goal of producing a 90 minute film called D*I*Y . But was that really the goal?

On the exterior, yes . In April we set forth with the concept of plowing through a no budget feature film with the idea of possibly creating something ingenious, new, and ripe. A sweet 4-3/4 inch plastic and aluminum DVD to be available on!

On the interior (and in retrospect) no , a shiny disc containing a simple coming-of-age teen drama was not the finite goal. A DVD is actually a tangible representation of relationships being built while on-set, while off-set, and while on the inside-out of an upside down set. If we fade into a bloody crime scene, we must fade out with a happy resolution, right? Well, that’s yet to be determined, but the set on D*I*Y was definitely that of a bloody crime scene at times.

With the chaos that ensues when your audio engineer fills the role of a lifeguard by night, balance easily falls out of whack during the course of three months. Maybe that’s what is so cool about it all. Similar to the landscaper who could double as a producer, the lifeguard could sew. Literally. He came to the rescue repeatedly, just like the piano master did when he stayed behind to wrap audio cables. People came together with swarms of talent. That’s what each and every day was like while filming this little indie flick.

When examining relationships closer, one can spot gems in a crowd. Unique gems. Like the barista who had a knack for maintaining positive moral. Or the Taekwondo teacher who whip-kicked the uninspired. Or the lab technician who could skate backward. Well, she never skated backward on the set of D*I*Y, but she definitely did a whole lot of bending over backward to keep the crew fed. The relationships built blatantly put it all into focus: that DIY is simply an excuse for failure. Do it yourself? Really?

It couldn’t be any clearer that the people and the relationships that made D*I*Y a success. A deleted scene from the movie probably summarizes it best when a crowd of teenage punks chants in unison: “Do it together! Do it together! Do it together!”

Maybe the scene was deleted because the crowd was too robotic, but the bubblegum chewer and the kid who walked through glass and the mannequin thief and the water fight kids and the lurking shadow-walkers and even the annoying little know-it-all brought to life the essence of the little plastic disc.


One Response to “Derek Griffith’s Little Plastic Disk: A Filmmaker on His Film”

  1. Caleb 20.09.09 at 10:00 pm #

    We are a rag-tag bunch of goofy human beings…..

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