A Word from Tadd Callies, Scott "Spone" Hahn, Eric Seaburn, & Dennis Stay
Directors of "P.A. WARS"
The thing is, we didn't intend to make a short film. At the beginning, we were just a bunch of guys who were basking in the pre-Phantom Menace excitement. We had our super-cool plastic lightsabers at our disposal and we proceeded to beat the crap out of each other for hours on end. Spone (Sponikan Sponewalker) and Dennis (Qui-Stay-Gon) with the green Qui-Gon sabers and Tadd (Emperor Palpitadd) with the orange Darth Maul. It was the greatest. Then, one day, while a couple of us were recreating a scene from Empire, someone said, "Hey, we should bring in a Hi-8 camera and tape this." Because, of course, everyone must certainly appreciate how cool it looks for two grown men to swat big, green plastic sticks in each other's faces.
Well, once the camera was introduced, there was no stopping us. Considering that all of us are screenwriters or directors or both, and the fact that we like watching ourselves fight on tape, there was going to have to be a story. Not much of a story, mind you, just enough so we could continue to show-off. Little did we know that we would end up on an eight-month journey of perilous ups and downs.
Now, don't get the wrong impression, we had a hell of a lot of fun making this short and we're extremely happy with the way it turned out, but man, well, here's the scoop.
After we laid out our basic story, we began to shoot it using Spone's Hi-8 camera. Everything was going along fine until it broke one day and we could no longer record any sound. So, we borrowed a Hi-8 camera from one of the women in our office (we neglected to add earlier that all of us involved in this short worked for a television show in Hollywood and we shot PA Wars in that office, a lot of it during working hours which was interesting.) Wouldn't you know it, it broke down on us--after one day! Okay, what did we do then? We were about 75% done with the shooting and no Hi-8 camera was to be found. We decided not to give up, but to lower our standards.
One of our girlfriends was kind enough to donate the use of her Regular-8 camera so we could complete this opus. So what if the footage didn't match exactly, at least we could move on to post-production. We did just that, which introduces us to another member of the production staff--Eric. Eric edited PA Wars, as well as operated the camera and co-directed.
Now, remember, we were at the office, so we could only use the Avid editing machine when a) Eric was not actually busy with his real job, and b) when there was space on the Avid for us to do our cutting. Which meant lots of after-hours cutting and much, much worse--we had to blow away our footage from time to time because the space was necessary for the show. Bottom line was: the actual editing might have taken two weeks, but it took place over a three-month process. This was agony and an eternity when you couldn't wait to show everybody the fruits of your labor.
All right, so it looks like we were done. But no, around this time, Eric bought a brand-new digital camera. We decided to shoot some footage that will be used for Episode II -- Duel of the Fakes with the shiny, fresh out of the factory digital camera--and it looked great. The clarity was amazingly sharp and the sound was wonderful. This, combined with the newly discovered fact that our HI-8/Regular 8 version of PA Wars had some gaping sound problems, led us to consider the possibilities of completely reshooting the short from scratch.
After strenuous debate, we decided it was for the best. So, we began again. But considering how long it had taken us to get to that point, we made it our goal to finish fast. This was, of course, the biggest joke of all. It took us approximately another five months to see the digital version all the way through.
Not that we didn't try to speed things up, though. We would come in on a Saturday morning and shoot all-day and late into the night. This is, by the way, how our production company "Drunks With Sticks Productions" came to be named. One night, we were all
exhausted from a particularly grueling session of swordplay (this was a day we were shooting scenes for Episode II as well, which is wall-to-wall hard-core fighting) and we were shooting a shot where Spone was supposed to jump off a table. We did it over and over again until, finally, Spone just basically fell off the table onto the floor in a heap. After making sure he wasn't dead, we laughed hysterically until Dennis blurted out, "It's like watching drunks with sticks fighting."
Once again, the time constraints really came down to post. Eric worked his tail off, but, well, it's just damn hard to do post-production without your own equipment. Oh, and by the way, I'm sure some of you out there will see this short and think, "Hey, how come no glowing sabers?" Well, we concluded after much consideration that it would take us about 75 hours of saber-painting to paint all those frames. That's 75 hours for each of us, due to the heavy amount of swordplay at the end of this thing. Seeing how long it took us to get to this point, we figured that if we wanted people other than our family to see this short before the year 2008, we'd better call it a wrap.
At the end of the day, we don't have the knock-out visual effects of some of the other shorts on this site (which quite frankly, scared the
crap out of us when we saw how good they were), but hopefully people will find it funny and be impressed by the fighting. I know we got that
right. "Episode II" will be even better from a fight standpoint. A knockdown, drag-out, saberfest that will wrap this baby up in style.
Until then, enjoy PA Wars.
Scott "Spone" Hahn
Directors, P.A. Wars