We weren’t always filmmakers—at the start, all we wanted to do was share a story. We knew no one else would film 50 episodes of a webseries, though, so we did it ourselves. While it didn’t end up perfect, we did realize that doing film projects is, like, super fun. We wanted to do it again, and we wanted to do it better, and most of all we wanted to do it for other young people who are passionate about acting and film.
The idea for Equal and Opposite came about almost 8 months ago. We were sitting there in Rachel’s bedroom, trying to decide what our next project would be, and Rachel had an idea. Inspired by short films she’d seen where the perpetuators of a social issue became the victims (for example, a film set in a world that is sexist towards men), she was struck with an idea: a world in which society’s attitude towards the arts and STEM are switched. We loved the idea; its theme is directly related to our goal this year, and we knew we could make something great out of it. Filmmaking’s not easy, though. We kept looking at our busy schedules and our lack of resources and we had to ask ourselves, “Can we really commit to another film project?”
The answer, “No,” was hard to come to. Filmmaking, at that point, was all we really knew. What else were we supposed to do, we thought, if not film?
That’s when SPOTA was born. If we couldn’t promote the arts through a short film, we could promote creativity directly to young people in Southern Minnesota. It was almost like a compromise; we weren’t writing or filming, but we were encouraging other teens to pursue their own passions. We just had to take a step back for awhile and work from the wings.
The short film never left our minds, though. We didn’t want to leave screenwriting behind completely—we loved it too much. Even though it wasn’t a priority at the time, we made a promise to ourselves. If SPOTA went well, we could do the short film.
Suffice to say, SPOTA went well. We got more submissions than we ever thought we would, and every single one of them was amazing. The night itself went off without a hitch, complete with a post-SPOTA dance party at Katrina’s house. We even attracted the interest of some local newspapers—articles detailing our mission this year were published in the Mankato Free Press and the St. Peter Herald!
Once we realized that we actually could tackle the short film, we promised ourselves that we wouldn’t start writing until everything with SPOTA was finished. That went about as well as our promise not to work for two days after SPOTA—meaning we started drafting a plot outline in December, and we were working on the first draft of the script by the first week of January.
Writing this film was an amazing experience; we hadn’t written for film in so long! It was great to throw ourselves into something that used to be our whole world. There were some complications, though; since it’d been so long, we’d almost forgotten how to write screenplays. Nothing was flowing, the dialogue was flat, and everything was twice as long as it needed to be. One day, though, we got together for our weekly Outtakes meeting and said, “Alright. We’re gonna make this good.”
And we did! We worked for hours just reading through the script, making lines sound like sentences actual human beings would say, and fine-tuning some character details. At the end of those three hours, we had something we could really be proud of. The characters were all likeable, there were actually decent jokes, and we absolutely loved the final scene we’d decided on. Even better than all of that, we’re really invested in the message of our short film. We’re passionate artists proud to be representing other passionate artists, and what better way to do that than through film?
The next step, obviously, was casting—scary business for a start-up film group that can’t pay their actors. There were doubts. Would people want to be a part of this? What if we don’t have many people at auditions—worse, what if we don’t have anyone at all? What if we put so much work into making this opportunity for young actors… and no one wanted to take it? We did our best to get the word out, but just like with SPOTA, we were in new territory. We were nervous.
Before we knew it, the day of auditions had arrived. Hours passed, and five o’clock came—the time we’d agreed to meet at the Arts Center. We got there, and suddenly—Jesus!
No, literally. There was a miscommunication with the Arts Center, and auditions were double-booked with a rehearsal for Jesus Christ Superstar. Obviously, we were a little stressed. It’s a bit challenging to hold auditions with three Judases belting it out and dancing around. There was nowhere else to go, so we devised a plan: we’d take over the office and transform it into a makeshift audition room! Perfect.
Okay, not perfect. It was a little cramped, and if we’re honest… Jesus Christ Superstar wasn’t too quiet. Beautiful and melodious, but not quiet. So there were some issues, and we were embarrassed, but we couldn’t stay that way for long. Jesus or not, we had to make auditions go as best as they could.
People started arriving, faces twisted in confusion—why is Jesus singing a ballad? Am I auditioning for a musical? But we led them down to the office and explained the situation, and their faces became only slightly less twisted. We offered tea, like good hosts, and chatted with everyone about things as 6 o’clock approached.
The actual auditions went simply enough. We had people run lines, did a few screen tests, and overall had a pretty good time. There were some amazing actors who stopped in to audition with us! We’re so excited for the cast we’ve put together—it’s gonna be a great experience.
Cast list will be announced Friday!