Yesterday, I mentioned that some friends and I launched a Kickstarter campaign to make a beach house mystery in Wilmington, NC. Let’s talk about the origins of the Joe&Nancy mystery films today!
When I started my second year of graduate school, my friend Teresa told me that one of her passions as an undergrad was making mystery shorts with her friends. Surprisingly enough, she hadn’t made just one or two shorts but rather five or six (and if the shorts she made in high school were included, we’d probably be talking about ten). So one day in the early fall semester 2011, she told me that making a mystery movie inspired by the Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys stories was one of her dreams. In general, when I think my friends have a big dream, I try to be quite supportive. And when this big dream sounds like fun I get excited and am even more supportive if possible. So I told her that I was going to help her make her dream come true.
Of course, projects like this involve a great amount of people. We already had the protagonist (Teresa), and I could be a supporting character. She had written, directed and edited movies previously but I absolutely had not. So I had to learn “on the fly” as they say. Since I have always loved photography, operating a videocamera was both a new experience and something I had some experience before. As a result, not only could I be a supporting character but also a camera operator. Needless to say, I volunteered to photograph and document the filming.
Teresa had just started teaching French at Duke, so she mentioned the project to a colleague of hers, Germain, a French tall, extroverted and quite friendly language instructor at Duke whose dream was becoming a Hollywood star someday. It was quite simple to convince him to be part of our movies, and not only as a supporting character but rather as a protagonist!
Two leading actors, a supporting character already. And then Teresa and I could perform diverse roles (mostly her since making a movie was absolutely new like I said before) to make it work out. When we discussed what the structure of story was going to look like, we reached some conclusions:
- Because of copyrights, we couldn’t use the name Nancy Drew; however, naming the protagonist just “Nancy”, a graduate student who was a private detective in her free time, seemed to be an appropriate homage to the series.
- Nancy had a relationship with Frank (the older brother of the Hardy Boys) but since they were breaking up in the movie, we were never going to see him. Instead, Joe (Frank’s younger brother) was Nancy’s coworker in the detective agency (so he was also in graduate school).
- The story needed to take place at Duke but, again because of copyrights we were not going to mention Duke at all. We chose Sarah Duke Gardens for the location and decided that we needed to start filming soon.
- Nancy and Joe were going to solve a murder case and one of their friends was going to be involved.
The rest was simple. Since our department is Romance Studies, we asked our friends in the Italian, French, and Spanish programs (both graduate students and language instructors) if they were willing to spend a weekend to help us make a short. The responses were quite positive and so we have a very multinational diversity of supporting actors in Picnic of Death which we filmed by mid-October 2011.
If you are curious about the final result of this first film adventure, you can click on the Youtube link!
I hope you enjoy the movie! We have made seven so far and some of them are already on Youtube. Watch them and feel free to comment what you think about them, dear followers and visitors!…
PS. Teresa also happen to manage the Joe&Nancy blog. Check it out!…