Hmmm… how do I talk about a film like J.P? It’s a film that I never thought would be given much thought or attention at all by anyone other than close friends and family. It’s a film that took us a couple of hours to shoot and even less to outline. A film where I found myself buying a pet fish and going to a public firework show with it in tow, all within eight hours.
Going into that weekend, Stephen and I expressed how we really wanted to film “some cool shit,” needing no further elaboration. We met up with a couple of friends at the local Dunkin’ and brainstormed some ideas we could film in the next 36 hours. Our starting point was only an image of a kid anxiously getting ready to “go out.” By the end of that weekend, we had a red and blue beta fish to take care of and a little short that we thought was pretty neat, but we didn’t really know what to do next nor did we even think about it too much.
Fast forward to a year later, and we find ourselves going to another festival screening this same neat little short. While we never got too ambitious, we were proud enough of the final product to think that some folks might want to see it, so we applied to a handful of local festivals. It ultimately got shown at four film festivals around the Pittsburgh-area, and for a film shot in a day, that’s not too shabby.
J.P. wasn’t about the idea behind it, but more about the manners in which stories can be told. The film doesn’t fool itself into thinking it has more layers or depth than it can manage. It’s simple and pure all the way through, which I feel is what hooked those who enjoyed it and also what can turn people off to other efforts that get bogged down by anthemic concepts and ambitions. In the end, the main lesson I took away from it is to not take your ideas so goddamn seriously. A good story can be recognized in its most elementary form.
Fun fact: We took a bus on the way to the fireworks show. It was completely empty and I was almost certain that we’d be denied entry while struggling to carry an open fish bowl with a live fish sloshing around. The bus driver might as well have not even noticed either of us, however. I think he burnt out a long time ago.