Isaac Pumkin  

The making of Isaac Pumkin
by J. Grady

Making Isaac Pumkin quite possibly saved Ben and me from sinking into the depths of creative meltdown. Allow me to provide some back-story. The winter of 2001 drew to a close and a friend asked me to flesh out a one-act treatment I'd written, into a thirty minute screenplay that he would direct.

The screenplay is about an underground collective of revolutionary bi-pedal sheep plotting to overthrow humanity and liberate the natural world and is titled, Ovis Maximus.

Director Ben, (who will be referred to as G.I. Ben from this point forward) wanted Ben to be the DP and me to be the art director on Ovis; our first movie making experience. The three of us GROSSLY underestimated the shoot schedule. Shooting began late July 2001, and by October the leaves were changing color, G.I. Ben was obligated to start on another project, and we hadn't even finished shooting the exteriors. G.I. Ben was taking a leave and not releasing creative control of the project. We were hamstrung and the production stopped dead. We were extremely frustrated with the situation, but neither wanted to jinx ourselves nor admit the obvious. Out of this crucible of stifled creativity came the birth of Isaac Pumkin; Dull Grey Studio's first completed movie.
It all took place in our hometown of Keene, NH . Keene has little, save a bar, a bus station and the Guinness world record for the most lit jack-o'-lanterns. This record was set in 2001 and stands at 23,727 lit pumpkins. The Ovis situation had me and Ben burned out and depressed. Independently fighting oncoming psychological crisis ...we both came up with the same idea: "Pumpkin Fest is this weekend, we should shoot something.

We talked about the mutual idea and decided to make a 5min. short that incorporated Pumpkin Fest. Our main objective was not to make something particularly good, just something fast and finishable. We only had three days between original concept and Pumpkin Fest, so beloved pressure was back.
That night I wrote a brilliant treatment that was the seed of Pumkin, but Ben added his two cents and fucked up my vision.

The story of Issaac Pumkin developed the next day and that night we started on the storyboards. We kept drawing the next morning, until the bar to open at 3:30pm.

Ben gets cranky if he doesn't get a couple beers in him by four. He says it helps him "relax." We packed the camera, a tripod, two mics, went to Killkennys and were given permission to shoot. Ben was well lit by the time we got the lines right. That night we shot Isaac's introductory apartment scene and made plans to catch the 11:30 bus at the local bus station. We planned on finishing up with the Pumpkin Festival the following day. We shot four locations in three days including pick-ups; we finally had momentum.
Pumkin is not perfect. It lacks an easily understandable story, the bar scenes are a little dark, the title is hard to read and the guy in the red jacket holding the camcorder in the pumpkin fest scene looks directly into the camera and smiles. Say what you will, but as far as we're concerned, it's a fine independent digital video that saved us from sinking into the depths of depression and doubt.

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running time: 4 minutes
file size: 8mb
file type: flash 6