Student Work Wednesdays – Catfish


What is the premise of your film?

Max Gilmore (Director): Feeling an increasing distance between his girlfriend Hannah, Nathan discovers that she has created an online dating profile. His search to discover the truth leads to a deeper understanding between them.

Megan Lee (Producer): Catfish follows a young couple who creates online dating profiles without the other knowing. One does it in hopes of finding an escape while the other does it in an attempt to salvage the relationship.

What was the Pre-production process like entirely online?

Max: Online Pre-Production has an entirely different feel from in-person meetings, and it’s much more important to be checking in, as Zoom meetings don’t allow you to really gauge how people are feeling.

Megan: It was sad not being able to see our crew members’ faces and work collaboratively in person but I think having to schedule consistent Zoom meetings actually made us more responsible when it came to managing what needed to get done.

From Left to Right: Max Gilmore, Symone Coleman, Andrea Batista, Tony Argueta

How many crew members did you have on your film? How many were on set?

Max: Our crew is 7 people, 6 were on set.

Megan: Our crew consisted of seven people, six of which were able to be on set.

What was it like working with a small crew?

Max: I loved working as a small crew. Everyone contributes so much more, and being able to hear feedback and thoughts from anyone is a huge help. It also leads to a significantly more relaxed atmosphere on set, as the lines between different jobs blur significantly. This takes a lot of stress off each person’s shoulders because we can rely on each other.

Megan: Once we were able to assign who needed to do what, which meant a lot of doubling up on positions this year, I think a smaller crew was much easier to manage. Having crew members that were knowledgeable in more than one area was a great help this year.

Maya Baskin

How do you think this experience has helped prepare you for the professional world?

Max: It was a great lesson in working in unfamiliar environments with short turnaround times, obviously very common occurrences in the industry. It also really helped us learn to manage extremely limited resources, even more so than on a usual VCU short.

Megan: Being producer, I think it gave me an idea of how to take a leadership position in filmmaking and how much goes into planning a film before you can even arrive on set.

Which part of the process was your favorite? Why? (Pre-pro, Production, Post-pro, Modules)

Max: Production is where it’s at! I love every part of the process, but nothing beats being on set and actually making that planning happen in front of the camera.

Megan: I was very hesitant going into pre-production, but I really enjoyed the planning process and helping assemble all of the puzzle pieces of shooting the film. I think it was really interesting to have the extra challenge of doing that remotely this year.

Which part of the process was the most difficult? Why?

Max: So far, Post-Production seems to be our biggest challenge. It’s one thing to shoot some nice footage, another entirely to turn that into a completed short.

Megan: I felt like it was hard to get the crew excited for production since we couldn’t bounce off of one another’s energy in person. As helpful as Zoom has been, it’s difficult to show how excited you are for projects like these.

From Left to Right: Miranda Hugo, Tony Argueta, Max Gilmore

What was the most rewarding part of this experience?

Max: Wrapping up on Day 2 of shooting knowing that everyone’s planning and hard work had paid off.

Megan: Even though I wasn’t on set, it was super rewarding to see and hear about how smoothly things went on set for the cast and crew. Seeing an idea come to life, especially after the year we’ve had, is extremely gratifying and a reminder to not take opportunities like these for granted.

What advice would you give to students who take this course after you?

Max: Enjoy the process. It’s definitely going to be hard or stressful at times, but at the end of the day, everyone on your team wants to make a great movie. Things will go wrong every week of planning and shooting, but that’s part of the fun.

Megan: I would tell future students to work hard in pre-production so that they can have a good time on set and not be stressed to the point where they can’t enjoy collaborating with their crew. I think poor planning takes away the more enjoyable parts of filmmaking. Work hard and have fun!

Clip from Catfish (2021)