The Good Kind of Stress

by Omar Alqahtani

I was filming my first narrative short outside of a 7/11. One of the characters was smoking a cigarette. We were stopped by a couple of strangers asking saying that they did not have cash for cigarettes but they had a personal bottle of Grey Goose that they didn’t want. I was 19 at the time so I was pretty excited.

While working on a different movie, I called a casket supplier to ask for permission to film at his store. There was a scene where a grandma has to pick out a casket and I wanted it to be as visually compelling as possible; caskets hanging up on the wall felt like they would get the job done. The owner of the store was actually really cool about the whole thing. He gave me a tour around his little factory. He showed me his patented casket technology for people who only want to rent caskets, he explained to me how different types of caskets work, he even showed me how bodies get cremated. He has this giant machine that just sets bodies on fire for several hours. He showed me a can of ashes with leftover body modifications, such as braces, metal teeth, metal bones. It was all wonderfully morbid, but by far the weirdest part of that whole interaction is that he did not seem to mind my pretentious man bun.

For one short summer I worked with online media content company, so they send me on all kinds of weird prop runs. One time was especially different. They sent me out to carry a $10,000 chair through the busy streets of Manhattan. They half-assed the wrapping of the chair and made it my responsibility to return it without any scratches. I’m a pretty clumsy guy, and I did not want them to know that, which led to the most stressful 10-minute walk of my life. It was only 4 blocks, but it felt like 27.

All of those experiences lead to recorded moments on video. I would plug all those experiences onto a computer, and I would have to reappropriate all those memories to create a compelling narrative. To me, this is the beauty of filmmaking. The fact that the making of a narrative is a story within itself. Yes, for the audience, the narrative o the screen is completely divorced from the experiences that formed it, and for the sake of the art, it should be that way. However, the making of a movie leaves me with a lot of stories that I get to carry with me, and be able to tell my friends, family, maybe even grandchildren. I can’t think of many other professions that leaves you with so many stories to tell. That’s why I chose this profession. That’s why I took the internship at JTwo.

This project was created as part of the JTWO [INC]ubator Project. A semester long internship program built from the ground up to give young filmmakers, content creators, and all around hungry for a challenge individuals a place to stretch their creative minds while preparing them for the road ahead.

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