Basic is a short film exploring the insecure lil’ ho in all of us

Starring Nelson Franklin (Veep, Abby’s, Blackish), Georgia Mischak (Arrested Development, Love), and Chelsea Devantez (Bless This Mess, Abby’s). Chelsea also wrote and directed the film. Basic is a dark comedy exploring our nastyass petty side, and what it really means to be basic. The film is short, really short in fact. So short that this is how Chelsea described it for us:

Honestly, the film is three minutes and three seconds long, so saying too much about it will ruin it. So I’ll just say this: you are a dumb lil’ ho, we are all dumb lil’ hos, and this film is about you, your friends, your family, your high school bully who got engaged at Disneyland, and all your lovers: past, present and future.

Short can be a good thing, particularly when it’s very well executed. Basic is snappy and straight to the point (actually, it’s pretty much a devious curveball). But it’s really snappy, and everyone who has ever scrolled through an Instagram feed will instantly connect to it.

How did Basic come about?

I’d had this idea for an unreliable narrator for a while, but I didn’t have the story yet. Then there was a night when someone who shall not be named (until I’m at least three drinks in) went through my twitter feed and deep liked a tweet that was a year old. The whole film came to me right then and there. I wrote it that night, set up production the next day, and filmed it three weeks later.

What and Who is it for – where does the message come from?

The film is for everyone, even if you’re not on social media. It is about the emotions people have always experienced when they’re at their lowest and most insecure. When people watch the film I hope they know who the villain is immediately. But by the end of the film, change their mind and think a different character is the villain. And then three days later I hope the film crosses their mind for the briefest of seconds and makes them go, wait, am *I* the villain?

What was the main goal of the short?

I’m a very goal oriented person and I always film things with a purpose — a TV sizzle, a pilot pitch, etc. So funnily enough this short came about because my old manager told me to “just make something for myself” without caring about what it was for. Which also meant like, I have nothing for you and no plan for you. So I said hell no! And then a month later when this idea hit me. Got so excited to make it that I just did it.

I didn’t check in with anyone about it — I didn’t tell my reps, I didn’t run it by anyone who wasn’t already making the film with me. I just did it in my own bubble with no outside influence. Didn’t know why I was making it, I just was. I applied to festivals and in the deepest part of my heart I wanted to get into SXSW, but I pushed that thought aside. And then suddenly it got in. Now I have an entire feature inspired by this short film. So hey, the advice to do something for yourself, with no goals, just something you really are proud of, is good advice!

Describe any challenges you had while filming it

The entire crew for this film was 4 people, including myself. We shot it over two days with eight locations. There were many challenges! But here’s a specific one. The DP and editor, Kevin Walsh, and I had scouted this beautiful park for a shot we wanted and had practiced all the takes. When we showed up on the day a concert was taking place and everywhere was PACKED. I’d planned the day so Georgia and Nelson could shoot these two shots back to back in an hour, to be respectful of their time. So we pulled into the parking lot and re-staged it on the fly with my AD Kenzie Elizabeth. I’d bought this pineapple for an extra shot if we had time, and we pulled the pineapple in. Now it’s one of my favorite shots in the film and it’s in the ugliest location, ha!

What kind of equipment was used for the film?

All natural lighting was used for the outdoor shots, and one of the best sources of colored light for the indoor scene ended up coming from an app on an iPhone. The film was shot on two cameras: Kevin’s Sony A7, which was better in low light, and my Canon 80d which had better auto focus on the gimbal in full sunlight. The most expensive element of the budget came the day before when Kevin and I panicked and bought $200 worth of backup batteries that we never used.