The very idea of One Night Stand — that a cast and crew throw fear aside and do the seemingly impossible, move from a blank page to a live performance in 24 hours, demonstrates perfectly that when you dive into the creative process with everything you’ve got, magic happens. There’s a brazenness and love of craft that is so inspirational, it obliterates any chance of getting so-called writer’s block.
The NYWIFT Writers Group is planning its own 48-hour Script-to-Screen Film Festival to be launched in Fall 2013. It will showcase the group’s work. The “One Night Stand” was captured in a documentary of the same name. The film’s creators have set a very high bar for what a team of pros with passion and skill can produce when under the gun. One Night Stand Producers/Directors Elisabeth Sperling and Trish Dalton share their experience in an interview below:
Photo of Trish Dalton and Elisabeth Sperling by Kerry Long.
What inspired you to make this film?
Elisabeth: I had lots of ideas but no idea that seemed like “it.” I wondered how other people come up with their ideas; so when I heard that these writers were going to have to face a blank page and write musicals overnight, and they’d be coming up with their ideas out loud, in collaboration with the composers — I thought I’d like to be a fly on the wall for that!
Trish: Elisabeth came to me with an idea about the creative process — a topic I’ve always wanted to explore, and then when I heard about the caliber of talent that would be involved, I was hooked. It was amazing just to be in the room with these people, it was electric.
What was your process?
Trish: Our process was a lot like the process you see in the film. We just had to jump into the shoot without knowing what would happen. We didn’t know the people we were shooting, or who would be the main characters in our film. We had several cameras going at once in different rooms. It was frenetic, but there was so much adrenaline that we never even got tired.
Elisabeth: The shooting happened in 24 hours, but then it was a tough edit. Together with fundraising, it took us three more years. We went through a lot of highs and lows, just like the characters in our film. sWhat kept us going was the amazing characters in the film. In the edit room, even the scenes we had been cutting for months still made us laugh and sing along.
What was your biggest challenge?
Elisabeth: Fundraising. The key was to know that the film was going to be a joyful, inspirational experience for a wide audience, so that the fundraising was for a worthy cause. Believing in your film is what enables you to seek support.
Trish: The edit was a challenge because we had to convey so many people’s emotional journeys, the plots of the musicals, and the overall energy of the event.
Did you have an “aha” moment?
Elisabeth: Originally I had intended for the film to be very interesting, about how artists create, but I didn’t realize it would be so funny. The first time we showed a 9-minute demo to a crowd, they laughed the entire nine minutes.
Trish: We both came to realize that the film was more than a musical theater film. It’s really a celebration of creativity, and it draws in anyone who does anything creative–and that’s pretty much everyone.
Elisabeth: Plus anyone who hits up against that limit of only 24 hours in a day — which is also just about everyone!
Do you have tips for other filmmakers?
Trish: Make a film about something you feel passionate about, because you may end up spending five years on it, like we did!
Elisabeth: Yes. My dad kept asking me,“so, have you found the secret to creativity?” and I eventually said yes: The secret is to creativity comes down to commitment, playful collaboration, and putting doubts aside. At some point in the process, you will be certain that you and your project are completely and utterly doomed. You should keep going anyway.
One Night Stand is screening at The Quad Cinema, NYC* this week. On Wednesday, May 1, at 7:30 pm, there will a Q&A with the cast, producers. and directors, as well as a post-show after-party at SideBAR NYC.
*NYWIFT members get a special discount to The Quad Cinema and are invited to the after-party.
— STACY BAKER MASAND