We Filmed a Drunk History
This is a blog post that I promised myself that I would write after this whole experience. Why? Because we got SO MANY questions about this project. So, if you have questions, are curious about how we did it, OR if you are looking to shoot your own Drunk History this quarantine, read on!
In February 2019, we got an email from our friends Jimmy and Alanna asking us to make a video. They wanted to do a Drunk History video for their save the dates. Unfamiliar with Drunk History, Catherine and I began our research.
Drunk History is a television series on Comedy Central that stars inebriated celebrities retelling historic events. If you have 10 minutes (or hours), look it up, but be warned, you might have a hard time stopping.
After agreeing to the project, we began pre-production. This project would have two shooting days. The first day would be the drunk interview, and the second day would be the reenactment shoot. Both phases would require a lot of planning and coordination. It would also take a lot longer (and cost a bit more) than we all anticipated.
We began by planning for day #1, the drunk interview. Below were some of the suggestions we shared with Jimmy and Alanna in the planning phases of the shoot.
Know your story, but don't try to recite anything. We want you to tell it how you normally would, just drunk. Send us a detailed description of your story (include any important dates). While we want you to tell your story naturally-drunk, we want to make sure that you give accurate recollections of your story. Having your story written, out and us knowing it well will help us make sure you are retelling it accurately. Also, if there are parts that you DON'T want to share, let us know.
1: Alcohol: Choose a drink that you have never had a bad experience with.
2: Start drinking before we arrive (try for a light buzz when we get there around 5).
3: Once we get there, Evan and I will set up, and Catherine will begin drinking with you. Catherine will also be in charge of making sure you recall your story correctly.
4. Have drunk food ready, and water nearby.
THE DAY AFTER:
Make sure that Saturday is free for recovery. We want you to be able to commit to being drunk and not afraid of the next-day hangover.
Friday, February 22, 2019: The Drunk Interview
Of course, there were some things didn't quite go according to plan. Here were our big takeaways from the first day: The Drunk Interview.
TIME: Going into this shoot, we had anticipated this portion of the project to take 1 to 1.5 hours, MAX! At one point in our emails, we mentioned "rambling for about 20 minutes or so." In reality, this drunk interview portion of the project actually took us 4 hours! Once the video was put into a timeline, we ended up with a 90-minute story.
ACCIDENTS: Another problem that arose on day one was the camera/tripod accident. This accident actually cost us more money than we made from the project. Although it was not preferable, it was alright because we agreed to the project knowing the risks it could hold.
MICS: Maybe avoid lavaliere (the clip on) mics when interviewing drunk people. Many people don't know how to get out of those sober. That being said, you will have to assist with unclipping and reassembly for all bathroom breaks.
FLOORING: Don't shoot on a carpet. There were three spills during this interview, and Jimmy and Alanna have a very nice carpet.
FOOD: If you plan on having your intoxicated friends order food, have them do this BEFORE the drinks get flowing. We had 2 failed attempts of big mac orders :( Thankfully, Jimmy and Alanna had bought plenty of snacks prior to shoot day.
After 5 months of narrowing the storyline, creating storyboards, finding actors, locations, props, scheduling, mixed in with wedding season, we were finally on shoot day #2! This day, we knew would be a little longer than the first. So, we cleared our schedules for the 8-hour day ahead of us.
Saturday, July 20, 2019: The Reenactment
This day required a lot of people, and strict screenplay that had to be followed. A few takeaways from the second day: The Reenactment Day.
TALENT: Be patient with everyone. When using your available friends or doing a shoot with a lot of extras, the scenes will take a while. Also, remember that not all your talent are actors. Luckily for us, Jimmy and Alanna's friends and the main actors, Mary and Kevin, both have backgrounds in acting!
START BIG: Scenes with a lot of people can be distracting or time consuming. Once your talent finishes their scene, let them leave. Minimize distractions. Get the crowded scenes done with early on. Generally, the less people on set the less distracting, and the quicker you can finish your scene.
PLANNING: Any shoot requires a lot of planning. The more planning you do ahead of time, the less time you waste. We had met with Jimmy and Alanna several times to make sure our shot list would be efficient for all the actors, and for all the locations.
FOOD: Don't forget it! Thanks Jimmy and Alanna for the pizza break! That came at the perfect time!
THE TEAM: The best thing that I could recommend to anyone thinking about making a short story of any sort would be to trust your team. Although the SMF team was focused on technical shooting, editing, and storyboard, etc., Jimmy and Alanna were just as busy, coordinating locations, talent, on-set meals, props, calendars, hosting, etc. Meanwhile their friends (our actors) were studying lines, collecting outfits, and offering their apartments up to use at sets.
Thankfully, Jimmy, Alanna, and all their friends are a wonderful crew, and made our shooting days enjoyable. As for the project, while challenging, it was also one of our favorites. The people and story allowed us to have a lot of room for creativity, and we really appreciate them trusting us with this project!
Enjoy Jimmy and Alanna's Drunk History!
And after over a year, and a new wedding date, we are excited to share, that's a wrap! LOVE YOU ALL!