FILM CRAFT: Valencia the Movies & How CrashPad Made Me a Better Filmmaker

by Alexa Shae

This month, CrashPadSeries.com celebrates its 6th anniversary. 

The best part about the CrashPad is that there’s value in not talking. The value lies in the sultry looks, the beckoning body language, and perhaps a good prop. If you really think about it, it’s a great film school. Tell a story with out words. Go.

Use the non-verbal. When I first started rehearsals for Valencia, a lot of the dialogue I had written didn’t sound or feel right. That’s really common in scripts, especially for newer scriptwriters like myself. As the words fell out of the actors’ mouths, I edited and replaced them with shrugs, glances and subtle eyebrow raises. There’s actually only one line of dialogue in the entire short that matters, “We don’t eat food that’s been cooked in bird muscle sweat.” And then at the end of the scene she binges on food that’s been cooked in bird muscle sweat. The average dialogue in a CrashPad shoot? One line from each performer. The math is perfect.


Valencia: The Movies

Keep close. Another rule of thumb we follow at the CrashPad is shooting with a specific lens length. We secretly (secrets out!) film with 50-millimeter lenses to capture what the true human eye sees. Well, that’s not really why we do it. It started because we were shooting two cameras and needed them to edit together well. We figured out that if we kept the same lens length, then most shots edited together smoothly. Also and most importantly, our various sets were always small and DIY designed, so keeping this tighter lens meant softer backgrounds and a greater feeling of intimacy with our performers. With Valencia, I shot mostly mediums and close ups. Whenever I shot a wide, I just didn’t feel close enough with the characters. My entire short only has one true wide edited in with a collection of close shots. And I don’t really like it.

Be collaborative! At the CrashPad, we let our performers do whatever they want. If they arrive with a storyline idea, they get to perform it. They decide what kind of sex they want to do in their scene, and we just follow like a documentary film crew. The only rule is you have to do everything on the bed because that’s where the light is shining. During rehearsals for Valencia, people started writing their own dialogue. I had written words that helped shape the character, but then during rehearsals I said they could translate that however they wanted. Of the dialogue that remained in the short, a lot of it was rewritten during improv rehearsal sessions. This resulted in funnier and more genuine moments from non-actors.

And then of course, a handful of my actors were cast directly from the CrashPad. They had the most acting experience of everyone, only had a few lines each and gave a lot of good face.


Valencia: The Movies (Hey, it’s Dallas from CrashPad!)

VALENCIA: THE MOVIES premieres at Frameline37 and features directors: Peter Anthony, Sharon Barnes Rubenstein, Aubree Bernier-Clarke, Cary Cronenwett, Bug Davidson, Cheryl Dunye, Lares Feliciano, Dia Felix, Hilary Goldberg, Silas Howard, Alexa Inkeles, Michelle Lawler, Jerry Lee, Olivia Parriott, Jill Soloway, Sara St. Martin Lynne, Samuael Topiary, Courtney Trouble, Chris Vargas, Greg Youmans.

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