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Happy Accidents in Film

by Seoyeon Bae

Mistakes and unexpected events happen all the time. When you are filming outside there are a lot of things that can go wrong but that doesn’t have to be the case. Like famous painter Bob Ross has said “there are no mistakes just happy accidents.” One of the beauties of filmmaking is that you can turn these mistakes into happy accidents and art. Sometimes these mistakes can be the perfect effect needed for the final touches of a film. They can be what sets these films apart from others and what allows you to be more creative.

Many of the filmmakers in this festival had encountered themselves with the unexpected, and they decided to take advantage of these situations instead of trying to immediately fix it or cancel the shoot. In the “Borderline Bill” segment of Josh Litman’s anthology feature “The Cluster B Quadrilogy,” Josh would fly from Los Angeles back to London, his hometown, for just a week at a time to film these stories.. With this pressure of having to go back within a week, Litman and his friends were racing against the clock. During the filming of “Borderline Bill” Litman told us about having to face the rain during shooting. He had spent 3 sleepless days shooting and when they started to shoot outside, it started raining. He could not cancel that day’s shoot because the actors were already there, and so they decided to go with it. They took out their umbrellas and started to shoot in the rain. This actually ended up giving the shots a beautiful mystical effect. Purchase tickets to check it out here.

“In the Backseat” by James Salmon was shot entirely inside an antique car in the producer’s grandparents’ garage. This beautifully whimsical onetake film about a couple’s relationship was also shot within a tight timeline; Salmon also didn’t sleep for 3 days and started to see things that weren’t there by the end of the shoot. Salmon didn’t like the strong industrial lights for the shoot and couldn’t find anything to replace them – that was until he found a plastic sheet lying around in the garage. They taped that to the windows of the car and the scene transformed into something magical. Not only did it add to the overall aesthetics, but it also added to the story. You can see this amazing short film in the Relationships short bundle! Grab your tickets here.

“Spookwood” by Jerry Wolf was another film that had a beautiful coincidence. Shooting in the woods of Woodstock, Ontario meant that they had to fight nature’s clock; they had to finish before sunset. During this shoot, they happened upon an area that was filled with crows and they thought this would be a perfect scene for the film (pictured in the header of the article). Sometimes nature works for and not against you. “Spookwood” is a story of a young girl traveling through a haunted forest in order to perform a ritual. Get tickets for this wonderful short here.

Accidents happen – it’s a fact of life! Thankfully, these filmmakers were able to take these unexpected events in stride during their shoots and use them to their advantage to bring new, exciting, and authentic elements to their films.