What Do You Care About?

Ian Schobel


Today, February 12th, marks the beginning of my fourth week at JTwo.

For every intern, week one is “bootcamp,” a multi-step guide designed to familiarize the interns with JTwo’s gear and organizational practices. After a week of tinkering and troubleshooting, I proved I’m not an irresponsible dunce, and was given the go-ahead to start my intern project.

A good brainstorming spot is really all I need to get some ideas flowing. Call me a grandpa, but I prefer pen and paper in these early stages. I’ll write write write write write– let a thought run uninhibited till it runs out of breathing room. It’s easy to get discouraged when bursts of inspiration fail to strike. Eventually, through sheer number of words, something resembling a story will coalesce. Two hours later, I had a pretty good idea and three storyboard pages in hand. I sat down with Justin and pitched it. 

I returned to Edit 9 desk with various holes poked through my concept; in short, it lacked an ending, and I was thinking too ambitiously given the logistics: two weeks to write, cast, direct, shoot, and edit. So I scaled back, developed a completely different idea which was almost fully fleshed out. Mid-pitch, it hit me– this was going to be a shit ton of work. When I finished, Justin gave me a kind of half-smile, half-smirk. He asked me, “what do you care about?” I chewed on that as I walked up the spiral staircase, and checked my phone: almost 5 pm, so I packed my things and headed for the The El. Rarely have I used the first idea as the basis for a final product, but I was frustrated the day hadn’t gone as planned. I hopped on at 2nd street station. Getting out of the office, the feeling the tracks jut against the train, it gave me room to look at my project from a distance, and I decided I’d been approaching this the wrong way, focusing on the concept itself; instead, I should assemble the resources I’d have access to (mainly the actors and the setting) and build the idea from those pieces.

When I write short stories, I tend to gravitate towards realism. So why not work with what I know, and draw from experience in this case, too? First: the talent. Of course, it had to be AK and Liam, two of my closest friends. They’ve been best friends since high school, and and they’re goofballs of the highest magnitude. I was pretty confident that if I experimented with a particular hypothetical scenario involving the two of them, they’d be down to play the roles, they’d respect me as director, and since their characters were largely based on their true selves/relationship, only minor character adjustments were required to fit them to my narrative. Next, the set: two years ago, when we were still in the dorms, AK and Liam roomed with a kid named Nick. We’ve all remained friends, and he now lives with two other guys in this kick-ass apartment (with adjustable mood lighting). The pieces now in place, I set to work on the script and shot list. We shot both scenes in one day, morning first, then night scene later. In the story, the scenes are reversed. AK and Liam took it in stride, though, delivered a great performance and overall, I’m extremely pleased with the final cut of my first piece of fiction filmmaking (s/o to Alex for the super helpful C100 walkthrough).

It felt really good to sink my teeth full force into a project like that. But remember, as an intern, the intern project is not your only responsibility. The intern project is just a job with a two-week deadline. Your daily contribution to JTwo’s workflow is first priority. You have to multitask, wear all the hats, be ready to drop what you’re doing to help where needed. Working on a number of sets these past weeks, it’s humbling to see that no one here is above any one task; as a smaller production company, everyone fills in the gaps as they arise, and there’s a significant amount of overlap across positions.

spray boy

I try not to get ahead of myself, but thus far, my time at JTwo has completely exceeded every one of my expectations. Who knew I’d be spraying then talent with sweat on most sets I’ve worked on? And this is just the beginning. Who knows where my spray bottle will take me next.