TWIN BROTHERS PATRICK AND JACKSON MUSKER
prepare to face off at the kickoff of the 2007 Movie Making Marathon.
 
While it was war on the morning of Saturday, March 24.. these two brothers were a pair of the many talented screenwriters that won this year’s MMM Short Screenplay Competition with their work, “Up in the Air.”
 
Scroll down to see what they, and all the other winning writers had to say about the two versions of their movies the MMM crews made!
 
Sue Li
writer of “Marketplace Kleptos” (revisions by  Aidan Stallworth and Matthew Slayton)
 
What was it like to see your pages come to life on the screen?
 
Absolutely amazing. I hadn’t seen any of the other films until the day of the premiere, and Marketplace Kleptos were the last two to appear, so I was pretty much sitting there the whole time shaking in anticipation. I laughed at every moment of the two films. They were wonderful. It was strange seeing some scenes on the screen that I had replayed in my head many times.  Many parts were improvised or altered, but neither film compromised the intention of the film or the vision that I had. I was also glad that the second film won for Best Ensemble. The characters that I wrote were meant to “feed” off each other.  
      
How did the teams do in adapting your work? What did they do that you really liked (or didn't like)?
 
I really liked the banana suit. I still don’t understand exactly how they got a banana suit. I also enjoyed the fantasy scene where one of the character imagines what would happen if he had a million food points. We see a blond girl in a cocktail dress sitting in his lap, feeding him cherries. I was really surprised how cooperative the marketplace workers were. When I was writing the script, I was worried how feasible it would be. Apparently, running around in a banana suit and stealing food from the Marketplace wasn’t exactly a problem! There were a few references that I written that I don’t think the producers understood. They had really unnaturally, grotesquely gigantic apples in the Marketplace one day, which I written into the script that never appeared in either of the films. I also would have liked to see Grace tried to “kleptomatize” a chandelier.  
      
Did you have a favorite version of the two? If so, which one was your favorite and why?
 
Each has its strengths. In the first one, I liked how the Marketplace Sheriff threatens the freshman with a spatula. After the dream ends, he invites Dave, I think it is, to a BBQ. Nice touch! In the second film, I liked how Bond-like it became.  
      
Since you also participated in the event itself, what was it like to be both writer and crew?
 
I actually enjoyed the writing more than being in a crew. Although working in a crew is supposed to be a collaborative effort, your vision can be compromised when you do not work independently or when you can’t work with people whom you are familiar with. It’s frustrating to feel like you are helping someone else out with their film, instead of working together in a group effort. Also, I wrote my script in a week or so; production for the MMM was 24 hours! It was exhausting. Nevertheless, I enjoyed both filming and editing, and seeing the entire movie come together from the first hour.
      
 
 
Hiram Rodgers and Daniel Wilson on the set of Team 5’s “Marketplace Kleptos”
Judd Schlossberg and Catherine Butsch stand out on the quad preparing for a scene for their version of “Marketplace Kleptos”
Clarence Hammond
writer of “Birthday”
 
What was it like to see your pages come to life on the screen?
 
It honestly didn't set in until I saw my name appear on the screen. It was an amazing feeling, knowing that what these actors were saying and doing was something that I had created.  It was a dream come true, to put it simply. After spending so much time writing and editing and re-editing,it's such a relief and almost nervous experience to see how your words will be delivered and how your scenes will play out.
 
How did the teams do in adapting your work? What did they do that you really liked (or didn't like)?
 
I think both teams did a great job adapting the work.  Each version
had its own take on the script, and it was interesting to see how the director would interpret my script and if he'd pick up on the nuances that I had put in there. I can only imagine how hard it must be to direct and edit something in 24 hours, and I give both teams much respect and credit.
 
Did you have a favorite version of the two? If so, which one was your favorite and why?
 
My favorite version was team 2's version.  When I wrote this, I didn't plan for it to be funny, so I loved it when the director and actors picked up on the emotional beats that I had created.  I tried to write a very deliberately paced script, and I think their version definitely got across all of the themes and messages that I envisioned.  And this isn't to put down team 10's version at all.  It was very interesting and enjoyable to see another take on the script and to see another interpretation.  That's what I found most interesting about the MMM -- just seeing how an artistic vision can be shaped and molded by those in control of shooting it.  Each group deserves a standing ovation for their efforts.
 
Did you enjoy being a part of the MMM as a screenwriter?
 
I loved every aspect of the MMM, from the workshops to the submission, to the announcement of the winners.  As a budding screenwriter, you want to seize
every opportunity to get your name and your product out there, and this was a great way to start.  This may be just me, but I would love to see a MMM DVD released at some point, maybe even with a "script-to-screen" feature where the writers could comment on the films as they play.  Overall, a great job by all, and hopefully I'll be able to participate next year.
Herbie’s mother straightens his tie in the mirror in this scene from Team 8’s production of “Birthday”
Family and friends gather around Herbie at his birthday celebration in Team 2’s version of Clarence’s script
Patrick Musker & Jackson Musker
writers of “Up in the Air”
 
 
What was it like to see your pages come to life on the screen?
 
Patrick: First, writing the script was a incredibly taxing and mind-blowing and enjoyable experience. I kept asking myself: "Can this really be shot in 12 hours?
Will an actor actually agree to jump into the the swamp-pond in the gardens? I wonder if the judges will go for surreal/sci-fi..." etc. I was fortunate to have my
twin brother, Jackson, on board as a co-writer, so he was able to let me know
if a scene was actually funny or suspenseful or intelligible. I'm in awe of the other 4 writers, who took up the challenge alone.
 
Seeing our pages spring to life on the screen was an unbelievably rewarding and
oddly relaxing experience. When I attend screenings of movies I've directed (i.e. for Froshlife and Freewater) I usually sit on my hands and grit my teeth and pound antacids and try unsuccessfully not to break out into a cold sweat. Afterwards I can breathe, and the feedback I recieve from friends and strangers is usually positive and encouraging, but I tend to get so worked up that the joy of the screening is a little lost on me. It was totally the opposite with the wo versions of Up in the Air.  I was able to maintain a greater sense of distance from the films, and simply revel in the talent and creativity of Danny and Jina's groups. They both did a fantastic job, and I'm so glad the script
ended up in their hands.
 
Also, in general, I think writers who choose to direct their own screenplays (i.e. Robert Rodriguez, me usually) are doing themselves a disservice in that their films' potential is limited by the scope of their vision. A fresh perspective makes such a difference and it prevents creative exhaustion.
 
Jackson: It was really eye-opening to hear my own words spoken by actors (fine ones, at that) on the big screen.  I'd honestly forgotten much of what I'd written
during the three-odd months since the screenplay competition; it was pleasantly
surprising to re-live the story in an entirely new way.  When Patrick and I finished the screenplay, we worried about how the general kookiness of the concept would come across.  But people actually laughed at the right moments and seemed to appreciate the bizarrerie.  It was really exhilirating to see that the audience was in-sync with our humor.
 
 
How did the teams do in adapting your work? What did they do that you really liked (or didn't like)?
 
Patrick: Both teams did a great job. I felt like I got a little better feeling
for Jay's character (outside of his avian tendencies) from Group 7's film. And
Jonathan's cawing before take-off in the climax was an excellent touch. Team 4 really nailed the dream-sequence. The music, the lighting, Jay's nest-building--it was all spot-on. Two things present in the script that I wish had made it to the final cuts were the Cop "caught him bathing in the gardens" scene and a final cut-away to a bird on a wire. The Campus Security scene, which was Jackson's pride and joy, was hilarious, but I guess logistically it wasn't workable for group 7 and apparantly Group 4 filmed it only to learn later they had audio problems. I was sort of hoping for more bird ambient/montage/doc-style footage in both films. There was the occasional b-roll of a robin or a sparrow, but overall I think it would have made the film a bit more clear and coherent. And there was the idea that the narrator, himself, was supposed to be a bird perched on Jay's windowsill or on a wire outside his apartment and the final cut-away to it would be kind of a kicker ending.  Such is the plight of a writer.  But honestly, both groups added way more to the story with their
direction and acting than they took away from it with minor script changes.
 
Jackson: Both teams did phenomenal jobs with the script.  I thought that they
nailed the whimsical-bizarro tone that we were going for, and when they did change
dialogue or action it didn't interfere in the least with the flow of the narrative.  I don't mean to imply that the adaptations were really similar.  In fact, I liked that they turned out pretty differently: the first took a more stylistic, dreamy approach, and the second felt more like a twilight-zone spoof, maybe because of its narration of Jay's routine with highbrow British narration.  I  REALLY liked the dream sequence in team 4's adaptation (the skewed, sideways faces), the choice of music (that calypso beat at the beginning rocked), and the acting of all parties involved.  Team 7's fall
sequence and its bandaging scene were especially awesome, and the performances were great as well.  It was too bad that both groups had trouble with the policeman scene, but I thought they used clever cuts and cheats to get around
it. Too bad the audio on the moustached guy didn't work.  He looked perfect for the part nonetheless. I guess most of all, I was elated with how well they made our writing seem. Top notch.
 
Did you have a favorite version of the two? If so, which one was your  favorite and why?
 
Patrick: Though both versions were great, I think I preferred team 4's. They really
captured the mood of the piece with the opening Bob Marley lounging-around
scene (I'm glad they changed it from Bruce Springsteen to Bob Marley--it worked
way better). The addition of the bouncing ballon was key and the actors who
played Philip and Mary really nailed their parts (Phil,in particular, was a riot). I liked that they saved the title until after the introductory voice, too (per the script). Moving the location of Jay's flight from his apartment balcony to the top of the Bryan Center was genius. It really heightened the drama of the sequence and allowed for their sweet down shot looking at an ant-sized Philip and Mary. The slow-mo feather fall was superb, as was their addition of the matronly regurgitation of the gummy worms.  I'm so proud of Danny and Matthew and the whole cast and crew for all the awards they garnered at the event. Well deserved! I'm honored to have played a small role in the making of their film.
 
Jackson: Hmmm...It's hard to take sides, especially since I have friends on both
teams...but I guess I'll have to alienate half of them and go with Danny's (Team 4's) version.  This is NOT AT ALL a put-down to team 7, but I thought Team 4 was really ambitious with its acting (avian regurgitation...brilliant) and special effects and creative shots (the feather fluttering down on broken Jay) so I'll give it the edge.  Team 7 you're cool, too (see comments above) and you had a really tough act to follow.
 
Since you both participated in the event also, what was it like to be both writer and crew?
 
Patrick: It was neat to be able to peak at the other monitors in the editing warehouse during the wee hours of Sunday morning and see something at once familiar and mind-blowingly new. Once I saw some of the groups' initial footage, I knew the finished products would be special. Also, I really enjoyed crewing a
project so different from my script ("The Usual #2--the one with the suspendered
professor and the checkers sequence). I'd never worked on a romantic-comedy
before, so it was pretty exciting and challenging to tackle Tom Brady's script.
 
Jackson: I kept trying to sneak a peak at the computers of the teams who were adapting my script.  I'm pretty sure they found this inwardly annoying and only by
reaching into the deepest reserves of their courtesy did they refrain from turning their monitors away from me or shunting me into a corner. I feel as though maybe I was more prepared for the difficulties we encountered because I had co-written one of the scripts.  That is, I knew that I hadn't given teams 4 and 7 an easy shoot AT ALL, and so I was actually pretty optimistic when we only encountered a few logistical problems in the "Marketplace Kleptos" script.
 
The lake scene from
Team 7’s production of
“Up in the Air’
The same scene from
Team 4’s production of
“Up in the Air’
ThE MoViE MaKiNG MaRAtHoN
THE 2ND ANNUAL 24 HOUR FILMMAKING CHALLENGE
MARCH 29-30, 2008 | DUKE UNIVERSITY
 
 
Copyright 2007. Webmaster
ThE MoViE MaKiNG MaRAtHoN2008
aBouT tHe MmM ShOrT ScReEnPlaY CoMpetiTioN MMM 20o8
GeT iNvoLveD! ReSoURceS SpONsoRs LaSt YeAR’s MmM (20o7) FReQueNtLy AsKeD QueStiONs HoMe CoNTacT Us