Earlier this year we, Awful DJ, made The Trunk. The Trunk is a sketch series all told from the perspective of the trunk of a car. Like the famous shot Quentin Tarantino puts in all his movies. We wrote the scripts so the trunk itself was a device to move the story along, to jump through time, and even be a character in the stories themselves. We could cut between scenes, use it for callbacks, and tell multiple stories in one – all by just shutting the trunk.
So just get a car, and shoot out the trunk. Super simple, right? That’s how Quentin Tarantino made all his movies. He just got a car trunk, put a camera in it, and he was done in a weekend. Then he used the rest of the budget to buy a sensory deprivation pool and float around for 2 months. Trippyyyy.
It was not this simple. Shooting The Trunk was the most complex thing we ever produced and what seemed like a simple shot involved many, many, mannnnnyyy moving parts. And we’ve produced some complex stuff before. We built a special camera rig for our the finale of our web series, Model Wife. (Cool rig shots here!) And we’ve made sketches and done live shows. But The Trunk was our Mt. Everest.
These idiots (that’s us!) have no idea what they’re about to get themselves into
To start with, we wanted to frame the whole series as a collection of different stories, like The Twilight Zone or more specifically, Night Gallery, the 70’s horror show hosted by Rod Serling. So we needed a playfully spooky opening showing where all the stories came from, sort of like the opening of Night Gallery. And where do they come from? Different trunks, that’s where. Back on track with trunks! So let’s get a camera featuring a bunch of different trunks with an ominous narrator telling where the stories come from.
Ok, so we needed to find a way to shoot through the trunk of a car, shoot multiple trunks as a ‘gallery of trunks’, and we live in a city where no one drives and people don’t really have cars. Awesome, off to a great start. Plus, because the trunk is such a great story device (pat on the back, us, way to go guys) we have multiple stories which means multiple characters, which means lots and lots of casting. And all the stories are specifically themed from this collection of trunk stories, which means LOTS of specific wardrobe and props. Lots and lots of details (take that pat on the back away, us, dumb move guys, just shoot videos on an iPhone with a cat in them and call it a day, get with it).
We sat down with Celeste Ballard, our producer at Above Average, our director Edmond Hawkins, and our DP, Sean Donnelly, to talk about all this. Above Average was nice and gave us drinks and chips to work out these issues. Here were some of the ideas:
- Buy a junkyard car, weld the trunk off of it, and shoot in a studio with half a car – NOT SIMPLE ENOUGH
- Get different types of cars – one for each episode – and shoot them in at least six different locations for the different episodes. Outdoors in New York. In March. TOO MANY LOCATIONS, IT’LL BE COLD
- Drive cars into a studio and shoot through a trunk onto an ENORMOUS green screen. …POSSIBLY?
Read the full account of how The Trunk was made here.