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The ins and outs of creating ‘Beach Club’

Miles Andersen and Emma Obrietan, Video Editor and Staff Artist
Originally published February 8, 2017

Photo courtesy of Jack Kingsley

The cast and crew of Beach Club. After 19 months of hard work, we screened the film to a sold-out theater in the SIFF Film Center.

Beach Club began as a simple idea in the minds of three somewhat-innocent sophomores entering their second half of high school. We worked on an outline one scalding-hot day in June, in the midst of finals and end-of-year mania, and emerged with the story of three boys on the trip of a lifetime through the dense and wild forests of the Pacific Northwest. That was nearly two years ago.

Step 1: Build a crew that you like.

A crew made up of likable people is one of the most essential features of a successful shoot. Since conceptualization in June of sophomore year, both the idea and people involved matured and expanded into fully-grown entities. Leo Galen Rauf (12) worked tirelessly on a script, and the crew grew larger. We added friends from both Ballard and The Center School and soon became a full-blown film crew. Many of us had years of experience in film, but some did not. This, in the end, was irrelevant; everyone was equally inexperienced in long-form filmmaking. We genuinely liked each other, and that’s important; a set can’t function properly if precious hours are spent being mad at one another. There were, of course, moments where we didn’t get along. Making a movie is hard, and you often find yourself looking for someone to blame. In these moments of stress, take a breath and remind yourself how lucky you are to be doing something you love surrounded by your friends.

Step 2: Don’t ignore the details.

Every detail is important. Color was a significant part of Beach Club; each actor had his and her own color scheme. The importance of color also found itself woven into the sets, scenery, and the props. Camping for ten days in messy tents made keeping track of props a particularly difficult task, so we speak from experience when we recommend keeping an eye on your props at all times. Maintaining continuity was stressful, but the entire crew made a group effort to keep up with the daunting shooting schedule and the props necessary for the film. Doing this was hard work, but it made for a uniquely recognizable and memorable film.

One of our schedules leading up to the shoot. Each crew member was tasked with organizing certain props, costumes and equipment.

Step 3: Plan ahead.

Our central failure on the set of Beach Club was our lack of organization. Nothing gave us more stress and anxiety than this failure to plan ahead. We planned out every individual shot in the film, but didn’t have time to organize when or how we would shoot them. This led to a fireside sit-down every night, at which Rauf would scribble a schedule for the following day. One day, dubbed “Special Things Day”, was reserved for the wackiest and most difficult elements of our shoot. As colorful and eccentric as this sounds, it is not how you should plan your shoot. Schedules and storyboards are best; you should be able to look at your schedules and know exactly how many scenes you will be doing that day. Otherwise, you will find yourself staying up late each night attempting to crayon a schedule for the following day.

Step 4: Prepare for the worst.

Things will go wrong; it’s completely and utterly unavoidable, so accept the problems and deal with them. Our car broke down at a grocery store, forcing Producer Katy Baker (12) and Director of Photography Sebastian Mesler (The Center School, 12) to sleep there overnight. We got backed into by a van at 6 A.M. on the last day of shooting, and Best Boy Jesse Romero (12) had to get her car repaired once we returned. So, as best as you can, prepare for these things. Don’t expect everything to go swimmingly because, no matter how well you plan, it won’t. At the end of the day, though, that’s okay. A story with no hurdles is hardly a story at all.


Miles AndersenEmma Obrietan (12) and Mesler gleefully take up the last bit of space in our transportation. Filming took place in August of 2016 in Port Townsend, Washington.

Miles Andersen

Emma Obrietan (12) and Mesler gleefully take up the last bit of space in our transportation. Filming took place in August of 2016 in Port Townsend, Washington.

Step 5: Recognize the moment.

For every one thing that goes wrong, there will be five that go right. There are moments that you expect: a difficult shot is completed in one attempt; an actor delivers a line exactly how it was imagined the moment it was originally typed. These are important — they help shape the quality of the film and your feelings whilst on set. However, the truly special moments are ones of spontaneity. Some will have to do with the film itself: we experimented with improvisation throughout the filming of Beach Club, which made for some of the funniest lines in the movie. Other moments, though, will have very little to do with the film and much more to do with the people making it. Dancing to David Bowie under the moonlight. Playing board games in the tent after cooking burgers on a cheap grill. Waking up at dawn to the increasingly annoying sound of “Another Day” by Paul McCartney, played to death each morning by Rauf in a vile attempt at self-referential humor. Recognize these small moments; they will be the things you remember.

Step 6: Commit and hope for the best.

The process of making a feature film is one of blood, sweat and tears; it’s tiresome, annoying and ecstasy-inducing. It will be both one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, as well as one of the most rewarding. It takes time, and before you embark on that journey you need to stop and consider something: Is your film something that you’re willing to put years of your life into? Is it something that you truly believe in, without a shadow of a doubt? If the answer is yes, then we implore you to take the first step in the long trek towards victory. Good luck.

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The ins and outs of creating ‘Beach Club’