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Dana Scott and Mischa Ayoub are the complete cast of “Double Negative,” an independent, full-length (80-100-minutes) film they shot here last month. They are also co-directors and editors, and Mr. Ayoub wrote the screenplay. Bill Burlingham of Burlingham Productions is director of photography, and the movie was produced at Burlingham’s Greenwood Street studio. This dramatic production is the first for both Ms. Scott and Mr. Burlingham.
Ms. Scott is a corporate video producer, freelance editor and former stage actress who currently works out of the 24 Truth Productions office at her home in Skokie. Mr. Ayoub graduated from Northwestern University’s School of Radio, Television and Film, recently returned from eight years in Toronto. The two are longtime friends who have acted together before, for instance in “Three Flat” here last year.
The film is a “dramedy, though it gets kind dark and dire towards the end,” said Ms. Scott. It takes place entirely in an office elevator falling incrementally from a high floor.
A single mother who is nine months pregnant and a ”cocaine-addicted, obsessive-compulsive businessman,” are the only passengers. They have never met before. The question for them is “What would you do if there were no tomorrow?”
Mr. Burlingham came into the picture via a corporate video he and Ms. Scott worked on together for Covert Creative Group 10 years ago. They “talked about personal projects,” said Mr. Burlingham, and he decided then that he was “going to weasel myself into this production!”
The crew had four days in which to shoot, Jan. 4-7.
“From my perspective, it’s a huge challenge,” said Mr. Burlingham. “After all, it’s 115 pages in an elevator.”
From any perspective, this film is a challenge: The $13,000 budget, said Ms. Scott, is “incredibly small” for even an independent film. It was possible, she said, because they “didn’t have to rent a lot; we brought the cameras ourselves.” For lighting, they used modified standard fluorescent lights and construction “clamp lamps.” And everyone working on the project was from the Chicago area.
A RoundTable reporter observed part of the filming. The studio set was a 6-foot by 9-foot, three-walled elevator with no ceiling standing on industrial springs on a platform about two feet off the floor.
Cameras and sound equipment and their handlers crowded around the opening in complete silence until the associate direct cued the actors. During shooting, what the two cameras were focused on appeared on two computers on Mr. Burlingham’s desk 10 or so feet away from the set.
Kathleen Foshee, a graduate in cinematography from Columbia College and this film’s script supervisor, perched next to him, ready to remind Ms. Scott which hand, for example, she had used in the previous scene to loosen Mr. Ayoub’s tie.
A few feet back and center sat Mike Michaels, sound, attending to his boom operator, high up on a scaffolding next to the elevator and Laura Black, hair and makeup, who had also, she said, “worked with Ms. Scott on corporate projects.”
The set, built in the Burlingham studio by Chicago’s David Krause of Big Works Inc., was shaken manually on cue. Ms. Scott directed from the elevator, which meant she at times broke in and out of character, and was sometimes in awkward positions for quite some time.
First assistant director Vincent Shade is to be credited with “keeping us on our 114-page schedule,” said Ms. Scott. But Mr. Shade responded, “No, it’s the crew.” The team worked fluidly together, with a sense of humor and excitement.
Ms. Scott said she hopes to have “Double Negative” post-production finished and the film released by fall 2011.