The 54 Hour Film Festival states in the official rules that no crew member or talent can be paid. Why would any working professional give away their time for free?
SS: Funny, but I never looked at it from the standpoint of working for free. I always viewed it as an investment -- an investment of time that gave me an excuse to get together with my friends and create, tell a story. That may sound weird, but, to me, this was just plain fun. Yes, I hardly slept or ate, but I was able to get closer with my friends, make new ones, have a blast and make a movie all at the same time. Looking back, I loved every single minute of that weekend and there is no amount of money that you could have paid me to be elsewhere.
Being a director is like being an NFL quarterback with two minutes left to lead his team to a comeback victory. So, what is your favorite thing about working under pressure?
SS: Working under pressure pushes you to perform at your absolute best. You find out what you’re made of when you’re under pressure. To me, personally, I like that rush of adrenaline when you know that not only must you perform, you must perform well. I played soccer growing up and I relate working under pressure to having that final penalty kick or goal scoring opportunity -- all nerves and excitement, but it’s a great feeling. If I had a job that presented zero pressure situations, there is no way I could always operate like that. I would definitely get bored.
How did you treat this project differently than you would a paying client?
SS: I don't think I treated it differently than any project I ever work on. I am such a perfectionist and I always try to bring my best to any project I am a part of. The only thing different about this particular production was the limited time frame. Normally I would be able to spend more time on performances, edit decisions, etc. I obviously had to rush a lot of those things, but I had such an amazing team working on this with me. They made my job so much easier and, in the end, we created a solid final product that I was proud to be a part of.
What's the best moment of the weekend?
SS: My favorite moment of the weekend happened Saturday night while we were nearing the end of principal photography. I had just worked out blocking with Mike (our DP) and we were lighting for our last setup. All of a sudden, I heard someone play the opening piano chords to “Lean On Me.” I made my way into the living room to find Addie, our makeup artist, seated at the piano. Several others gathered around and we encouraged her to play more. She politely refused and claimed that everyone watching made her nervous. To her rescue comes Ben, strumming his way into the room with a guitar that he had found. Soon, everyone is in the room. Ben and Virgil started to sing. We all joined in and sang, laughed and clapped along. To me, that was awesome. After 13 hours on set with time restraints looming over us, we all stopped what we were doing and simply enjoyed being together. It was at that moment that I knew, no matter what the outcome of the film or contest, this had been a worthwhile venture.
And everyone at once said, “Awwwww.” We’re so pumped to have Sam on the Inkwell team! If you’d like to hire Inkwell for your next Nashville video production, drop us a line via the contact form.