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film: Short Circuit

Filmmaker Brian Fox couldn't get past his writer's block, so he made a film about it.

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When you have committed people, the budget and filming conditions don't matter, Strider says. Fox, who played the lead role in the film, had to be toweled off after every scene; black plastic covered all the windows to create the illusion of night; and the air conditioner couldn't be turned on because of the noise it created. One take was redone because Fox left an icepack sitting in his chair when he got up to fetch a Mountain Dew.

In "Zilch," Fox plays the part of aspiring screenwriter Bob Dobalina who's got a problem: His screenwriting software has an attitude. Dobalina and the animated Screenwriter's Assistant engage in a battle of wits, which doesn't go too well for Dobalina.



Fox's first acting role was a tough one because he didn't have a live co-actor. There was no one for him to play off or draw from.



Adding to the challenge was acting out a plot lifted directly from Fox's own life. When Fox expressed interest in writing a screenplay a few years ago, his sister and mother called his bluff and bought him Final Draft 3.0, on which the screenwriting software in "Zilch" is based. As in the film, it sat on the shelf unused for three years.



Without the resources to simply insert footage of the assistant icon into scenes of the film, Strider and Fox recorded icon scenes by filming a computer monitor, which posed another budget problem: Black lines appeared on the film when a standard monitor was used.



Strider and Fox needed a flat-screen monitor, but couldn't afford one. So they purchased a flat-screen monitor and returned it when they were done filming the necessary scenes.



"Zilch" was self-funded, attainable and practical, Strider says. Fox adds that overshooting your capabilities on your first production can set you up for failure.



"We wanted something we could build on and go upward with," Fox says.



He also says "Zilch" is different from what many think of when they hear the words "independent film," because its entertainment and comedic value outweigh any artistic merit. "We don't want to be obtuse for the sake of being obtuse," he says.



Fox is currently working on the script for their next short film, another step in establishing the track record of successful films needed to raise money for a feature film. The approximately 30-minute documentary and feature-style film should be completed by the end of the year and will involve multiple locations and actors.



At the end of the year, with, they hope, their next film complete, Strider and Fox say they might consider approaching investors about funding a larger production.



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