By Irina Fomichev
At the last GA on Wednesday November 6, the premiere of the short movie The Hitchhiking Game was announced. Again, the question was raised as to why the film took so long to produce. This was a point of criticism especially because it was quite an expensive project as well. The Boomerang investigates.
The Hitchhiking Game was the initiative of a group of students who had the ambition to shoot a short film and wanted to make it happen. “We thought it would be nice if there was a project, a sort of singular entity onto which the creativity on campus could be funnelled.” says David Backovsky, the co-director of the film.
When they approached the UCSA to ask for a budget they had already come up with a team and done most of the preproduction. “The guys involved had been working on the script for months and had outlined the whole thing very meticulously and in great detail. They gave me as treasurer one of the most detailed and well researched budgets I had seen that year.” says Guido Danen, ex UCSA treasurer.
In May 2012, UCstudios received €3750 from the UCSA to shoot this short film, which was to premiere in May 2013. While for the UCSA and its members this a big amount of money, for a film budget it is very low. Most of this money was spent on the rent of equipment that UCstudios didn’t own, such as lenses, tripods, sliders and a shoulder rig, that would all contribute to the cinematic quality of the short film. Luckily, they managed to get a 38% discount on the equipment and were able to get free software.
10 days after the budget got approved they started shooting. By the end of June 2012 they were done with the production stage and were left with 13.5 hours of usable footage that had to be archived, sorted and edited. It is during this postproduction process that several issues came up that caused the delay.
Because the exchange students who were involved went back to their own respective countries, they had to work long distance, which turned out to be harder than expected. This problem was partly solved when the exchange students, Alex Hoffman and Samuel Kolodezh, moved in with David in Prague over the summer to work on archiving and sorting the footage. They worked the entire summer on this but were still not done.
David got a job offer from director Bryan Reynolds to work as a sound designer for 4 months in California, which is why he took a leave of absence. The other students involved kept working on the edit, however there were still many things to do such as manually syncing the sound and finding ways to colour grade the film. There is a lot of complexity to all the software that they had to understand before using it. For all the students involved this was the first time they ever participated in such a big project so it was a learning process as well. David emphasizes that, because of their passion, they never stopped working but that they were discovering the complexities of the postproduction process. They could’ve delivered at the promised deadline but they decided against it. “The product quality would not be as high as we imagined and we wanted wholeheartedly for this film to really be as good as we could possible deliver.” says David.