Cinequest 2017 Student Spotlight: Rebecca Uddin
What does the future future of filmmaking look like? This year’s Cinequest Film Festival offers a look at a few student filmmakers who have gotten a jump on their IMDB page before even graduating high school. Westmont High School senior Rebecca Uddin’s short film The O-Doring Orange is inspired by Cyrano de Bergenac, but the classic tale is given new life when viewed through an LGBTQ lens. Film School Shorts caught up with Uddin to find out about her process and inspiration.
Absolutely. Even with our thoughts growing more and more progressive, we still lack so much understanding of one another. Film develops empathy. What better way to show the world where you and so many others stand than by making a movie?
How much of your filmmaking process is collaborative? Do your actors stick to written dialogue or do you allow for improvisation?
I’m fairly new at writing. I know I’m no Tina Fey, so I always have the people I want to act in the film proofread the script. Any questions, any concerns, any comments, I ask them to bring it all my way. If a line doesn’t make any sense, I’ll change it. And that’s what happened. They read the script and gave me feedback. I took the notes accordingly and rewrote bits and pieces. For the majority of the film, the actors stuck to the written line.
Since The O-doring Orange is mostly a romantic drama, I couldn’t allow improvisation. However, the post end credit scene, that’s 100 percent Austin. We had a couple of different takes and kept shooting until we found a solid funny line to end on.
Talk about your pre-production process. How much do you prepare before making a movie? Do you rely on storyboards or other methods to communicate your vision to cast and crew?
With only three available days to shoot before one of the lead actresses left for Denmark, I pre-planned like crazy. Thankfully, because I wrote the script, that wasn’t too difficult. Once I had a cast, I could go to locations and play around with blocking by myself or with a few members of the crew and take pictures of possible shot angles. Then I’d come home and draw out the storyboards. After I completed the drawings, I took pictures and sent them to the group chat with all of the crew and actors.
Every shot and every movement was planned before anyone stepped foot on set. I even had the actors send me pictures of their costumes beforehand. When I went to bed, I dreamed of my movie. In class, I daydreamed of my movie. Any spare moment I had went into marinating the film. No matter what, I made sure I knew how to tell my story so I could lead my crew and cast toward a successful day of production.
What made you decide to submit your film to Cinequest?
Last year, I attended the Power to Create Conference with Maverick Award winner James Franco. At the conference, I found out that Cinequest has a high school short program. From that moment on, I was set on submitting.
Do you have a new project in the works?
I’m currently refining a story, a satire about our current American government system. It’s not going to be like anything I’ve ever made before, so I’m stoked.
Do you plan on pursuing filmmaking after high school?
Absolutely. The dream is to continue telling stories till the day I die.
The O-Doring Orange screens as part of Cinequest’s Short Program 8 – High School Shorts starting on March 11.