Writing Notes: The Full Story

Love. It’s in the air, it’s in our hearts, it’s on post-it notes.

To celebrate Notes being selected for the Gold Coast International Film Festival, I will share the full story, from conception to release. Since I wrote, starred in, and edited the film, I can tell you about the pre-production, production, and post-production that went into writing “Notes.”

Pre-Production

They say the hardest part of a big project is starting.

For me, the hardest part of making a film is coming up with the initial idea. There are infinite possibilities, which makes it even harder to focus in on one specific topic.

Then, the idea struck me like lightning, flooded through my brain like a tsunami, echoed throughout my body like thunder. I had an idea. I had “Notes.”

It was a traditional love story with an unfamiliar twist: the couple falls in love through notes. Rose is walking down the sidewalk on a normal, drowsy morning when she spots a yellow post-it note on a bench. It reads “Hi.” She leaves a post-it note of her own and walks away.

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The girl wakes up to next day to find a third post-it note on the bench, and so it begins.

Adam: I mean, three months of talking through notes?

Rose: It’s pretty cool.

Adam: Yeah, I would say.

Rose: Me too.

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However, Rose walks to the bench one day to find all the notes gone, along with her chance at love. All that is left is a “Do Not Place Notes on the Bench!” sign and a boy (me!) with yellow post-it notes. Wait….

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So Rose finds a boy at the bench, but then what? You will not know true filmmaking struggle until you have tried to end a script. It is crucial that the viewers are satisfied by that single moment before the screen goes black.

I had many ideas about how to end “Notes.” One was a simple scene where they finally meet, but that wasn’t satisfying. In another option, the two never even meet, as Rose assumes the wrong guy to be Adam, but that was disappointing. Eventually, I settled on a little of both, bringing some humor into the film as well.

Rose: You’re the one who’s been leaving the notes?

Adam: These [post-its] were on the bench when I got here.

Rose: Oh.

Adam: No, I’m just kidding. Hey, Rose.

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Production

Beth and I were cast to play Rose and Adam. For the previous week, I had prepared my…two lines. We were all set.

It rained.

So we came prepared the next week! Since this film took place mostly outside, we gave ourselves extra weeks in case we needed to take a rain check.

We did.

So the shooting began. We started outside. Since we had no lines prepared after “Hey, Rose,” Beth and I had to improvise. At least, it started as improv, but by time we finished, it had been set in stone.

Beth and I had to write the post-it notes between shots, creating a realistic fictional dialogue between the two characters. That was where we let our creativity soar. According to the notes, the characters both live on Grover’s Corner, the location of “Our Town,” a fictional play that uses vague scenery to convey the idea that it could take place anywhere in the country. We used this allusion to show that this story could happen anywhere to anyone. We also included a fun reference to the film school itself.

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Next, the bedroom scenes. Beth, being the amazing actress she is, came fully equipped with bedroom props, pajamas, and fuzzy unicorn slippers.

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Logan did an outstanding job directing, capturing my script perfectly while also constantly finding new ways to improve the film. For example, it was his idea to make the bedroom scenes get shorter and shorter each time, showing how Rose is getting more and more excited and willing to see the bench every single day. Add in Beth’s amazing acting progression from scene to scene, and it results in a film that doesn’t need dialogue to convey emotion!

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First Scene
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Second Scene
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Third Scene

Post-Production

A film is just a string of videos without editing. And it’s not just cutting “Action” and “Cut” either.

Logan and I worked together to edit “Notes” using Final Cut Pro. Who better to edit than the director and writer?

One of the most important parts of editing is matching one shot to the next. There is nothing worse in film than discontinuity between shots. If someone’s hand starts moving in one shot, it should be in the next. When I edit, I try to cut between shots at movements to display the perfect continuity.

One thing the audience enjoys is when text (like a title) is revealed as something moves past. It makes it seem as though the text is behind them, when it is actually just editing magic. Yes, magic.

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For us, a very important detail of the edit was the background music. Since there was very little dialogue, we needed to find good music to match the sweetness of the film. A song of growing love. We ended up falling in love with a little piano song on JewelBeat.

After hours of collaboration, Logan and I finished the edit. Now came the next chapter: releasing our work for the world to watch. “Notes” had been my baby for weeks, so I was excited for the world to see it.

We presented “Notes” a few weeks later, and I was happy to hear the reactions. People thought it was sweet, which was exactly what I had been going for. I was proud that my work had been able to make someone happy.

Some time passed by.

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More like a few months. October 2016. We were informed that “Notes” had been selected for the Gold Coast International Film Festival. And now, a month later, I am ecstatic to see my face, I mean film, on the big screen once more. Tomorrow, we will drive out to Soundview Cinemas, Port Washington for the festival. There will be films, awards, and interviews. And don’t forget photo-ops. This photo seems to be popping up everywhere, including multiple websites and a magazine:

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So…

That is the story of the time and effort that went into writing “Notes.” Be here tomorrow to read about our second consecutive year at the Gold Coast International Film Festival. I am psyched to see both past and present co-filmmakers once more!

It’s pretty cool.

Yeah, I would say.

Me too.

Fade to black.

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