"I really like the political and social message at the end of this film and talking shop from a filmmaking perspective, Fight or Flight was in itself a really useful masterclass in "how to" in terms of low budget/guerilla filmmaking. Great innovative use of shots, colour grading that adds suspense to the piece itself, good soundtrack and use of wild-tracking in the woods. Also, employing cleverly the use of open spaces, which I know personally saves on budget, and not getting too involved in twisted and convoluted story lines which could overcomplicate things, which can cause problems logistically/financially when filming low budget filmmaking. Aside from the fighting looking a little staged at times, this was a great short, keep up the good work! :-)"
While we definitely didn't want to beat people over the head with it, it is indisputable that there are political currents to "Fight or Flight". Yes, it is basically a seven minute chase scene, but it all comes about because a peaceful protester -- not even a protester, an activist posting signs! -- has attracted the attention of someone who really doesn't like what he's saying. What does this critic do? Hunts him down and kills him.
It's all too common to hear about exactly this kind of thing happening in the Middle East and Third World, but here in North America we don't like to admit that it's happening on our streets too. Yet everyone reading this knows, for instance, about how the Republican Party (with Fox News and its Tea Party nutjobs), view anyone who even suggests helping their fellow Americans get affordable health care:
Most Canadians are aware of what now happens, under our right-wing government, when we peacefully protest near something like the G20 summit -- or even just sing our national anthem:
The police brutality inflicted on the Occupy protesters, because they've stood up for regular Americans, goes without saying. But we should also remember the words of Fox News pundits, particularly when they use metaphors bound to infuriate viewers who think that crosses should be burned into the skins of unbelievers:
In fact, the protagonist of "Fight or Flight", Mike Bridger, is named for Canadian Senate page Bridgette DePape. Ms. DePape made headlines -- and attracted death threats -- for protesting Harper, in front of the entire Senate and the media.
Suffice it to say, that within our homemade suspense movie, is an extremely important message: standing up for your country MUST NOT be turned into a crime. It especially must not become a crime, punishable by death.
For a crash course, here's our throwback to Rodriguez's Ten Minute Film Schools, with the Mad Twins Film Class on our picture.
To start with, having great locations is a huge asset. Of course, what "great" means to you, will depend as much on the story you're telling, as your own personal tastes. But in general you'll want something that is visually a bit complex, with a lot of detail. And for my money, nothing beats going out to real places and just seeing what strikes a chord with you. Even if we had the cash to build sets, for a lot of things nothing beats the look of just being in a real house, or a real forest.
In the case of not only "Fight or Flight", but nearly every movie I've made so far, I shoot in forests a lot, not just because they can be both soothing yet a little sinister, but because I live in an area that has many forests to choose from. When you're a micro-budget filmmaker, your neighbourhood is effectively your backlot by default, so look at what's around and figure out a story that uses it.
As I said in the video, preparation is VERY important. While this movie has stunt work as an extra reason for that, even in a quieter movie you want to have some idea ahead of time where you're going. It's okay to discover the story as you go along, but you're never going to make a compelling film by just wandering aimlessly with a camera and taping everything willy-nilly.
When you're doing a scripted film, an extra advantage to this is that with no more than a digital camera and a walk through the locations, you can plan every beat of your movie, and know exactly what you're going to need on the day you shoot it for real. Because of work like this, as well as the simplicity of the story, and knowing the locations very well from hiking in that area many times, we were able to shoot all of "Fight or Flight" in about five hours.
Furthermore, we were able to shoot the movie almost entirely in sequence, once again due to this planning. And with the efficiency of digital video technology, this meant that the first rough cut of the film was finished, just two hours after principal photography was completed. Incidentally, all post-production on this movie was done with built-in editing software -- meaning that anyone with a recent computer, can do what we did.
One of the more ambitious things that we did, while making this movie, was do all of our own sound effects and dubbing. Between background noise and a poor on-camera microphone, much of the production sound was unusable (as in many "real" movies). Fortunately, we had bought an MP3 recorder for another project, and we re-used it on this movie (if you have to splurge a bit for one of your own, you can buy one for around $100 in stores, and the onboard mic will usually be decent enough to record on its own). To do our looping on "Fight or Flight", we had to determine ahead of time what sounds would need to be emphasized in the final movie -- usually footsteps, a bit of ambient sound, and anything that a character on-screen did with his hands. And since we live in the area that the movie was shot in, it was no trouble to find somewhere outside that was out of the way, and re-record the sounds there. You get much better looping done that way, versus a studio, because they are essentially natural sounds, just done separately from the picture shoot.
All of this takes some time and work, but it costs very little money, and the only special equipment you need, is between your ears. Go out, and create art!
2011 Merit Award at the Awareness Film & Arts Festival (Hollywood) • www.synergy-theshortfilm.com • Produced by GABBY EGITO • Director of Photography ANDREW KURCHINSKI • Edited by GABBY EGITO • Original Music by LEO PEREZ • Written & Directed by GABBY EGITO • Produced at NEW YORK FILM ACADEMY - Los Angeles.
In the summer of 2010, world leaders and activists from around the world gathered for the G20 Summit in Toronto, Canada.
What nobody knew was that the police had petitioned the government of Ontario to amend an old war measures act from 1939 which gave the police sweeping powers to arrest people within five meters of the security fence. Even after this rule was officially corrected, the police still used their new powers to arrested people miles away from the fence. The entire city was framed in a legal landscape which was tantamount to martial law.
After several police cruisers were burned on the city streets under suspicious conditions, the police and security forces, over 19,000 strong, used this as a pretext to start arresting massive amounts of people throughout the city of Toronto.
Universities were raided, protesters were ambushed by large numbers of police, and hundreds of peaceful people throughout the city were 'kettled' and arrested in record numbers.
The circumstances in which the police cars were allowed to be destroyed and burned by a small number of destructive protesters raises questions about the security of our democracy in Canada.
Over 1100 people were arrested in total and held in a de facto concentration camp. This was the largest mass arrest in Canadian history and by far the worst violation of civil rights.
The whole world is watching.
Direct link to Trailer on youtube.com
Our Committee for Traditional Indian Land and Life (T.I.L.L.) was formed to give legal and media support to Native American groups defending their rights, and in particular, the Hopi Traditionals. I had heard of the Hopi and read that the name meant “peaceful people”. For a thousand years, they lived in peace and harmony on their high desert mesas in what is now northern Arizona. For myself, the Hopi approach to life came as a relief from the Cold War conflicts grabbing the headlines all through the 1960’s. The Hopi followed their ancient prophecy to protect Mother Earth by living in harmony with nature.
The Hopi elders were passionately committed to making their prophecy heard. My wife and our children and myself were extended a rare and special invitation to come to the traditional Hopi village of Hotevilla to start work on a film. For many years, we spent all school breaks and vacations, winter and summer, living among the Hopi, whom we found to be a gentle, generous, kind people.
On that high desert with freezing winters and blazing summers, the Hopi agricultural way of life had to be in harmony with nature. Their ceremonies marked the correct times for Spring planting and Fall harvest on the silt soil brought down by winter rains.
When corporations sought to drill for oil and dig for uranium and bring in electric power poles, Hopi elders saw that the dangers warned about in their prophecy were about to come true. So many elders risked their lives, throwing their bodies in front of the advancing bulldozers to protect Mother Earth.
At that time, science did not yet foresee that humanity’s increasing use of fossil fuels for an expanding population would soon reach the limit of the Earth’s capacity. But that was exactly what the Hopi prophecy said. I agreed with the elders that harmony with nature is life-or-death for humanity. The Hopi elders requested the presentation on film of their ancient prophecy of the disasters that would come from penetrating Mother Earth. I could not imagine any film project more important.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A HOPI (9 minutes), our documentary short with James Kots (Kootshongsie) and his son Dennis, provides a historical sketch showing the peaceful simplicity of Hopi life. The government-sanctioned Tribal Council did not support the Traditional point of view and prevented further photography on the reservation.
The Hopi elders’ request for a film expressing their prophecy captured me totally, and I could not refuse a request to do my part in alerting humanity. With credit cards and help over the years from friends, family, crew people, and actors, to show the prophecy, we made the docudrama feature EARTH SPIRIT (83 minutes) and won the Neptune Award at the MoonDance International Film Festival:
The internet developed over those years, and video footage began appearing from all over the world showing what has been done to indigenous people by oil and mining. I felt such footage needed to be collected and shown as the very fulfillment of the Hopi prophecy.
So we completed our documentary/docudrama feature PROPHECY & POLLUTION (80 minutes).
In Part Two, EARTH SPIRIT (35 minutes, a condensation of the longer film) oil and mining development threaten the indigenous pueblo people, who raise protests, citing aboriginal prophecy that incursions into Mother Earth will bring disaster.
In the third and concluding part, THIRD WORLD INVESTMENT SEMINAR (36 minutes), prophecy is fulfilled as corporate capitalism does in fact develop oil and mining on lands of indigenous peoples all around the world, and the results are more protests, but also widespread war, disease, and devastation:
PROPHECY & POLLUTION was an Official Selection by the GreenScreen Environmental Film Festival, the Al Jazeera International Documentary Film Festival. the SURGE International Film Festival, and the Third World International Film Festival.
The trailer and download for PROPHECY & POLLUTION are at
Our Short Film is Based on a True Story... hopefully it can open up dialogue for Bilingual Education in Public Schools.
Since the 1960s, studies have shown that the best time to begin the study of a foreign language is in elementary school. Because children at this age show a better mental flexibility, more creativity, divergent thinking, listening and memory skills, it enables kids to process language early on.
The Center for Applied Linguistics discovered that most countries have mandatory foreign language requirements for children beginning at eight years old. However, in the United States, most students do not begin to learn another language until ninth grade, or the age of fourteen.
“Studying another language, any other language, will help you understand the issues faced by Americans who speak languages other than English, will help you understand the immigrant experience, may help you understand your neighbor, your family, or yourself. And look at the world: America is less isolated […] and the world is more interconnected than ever.” ~ Rutgers-Camden
To date, SURGE is the only festival to have accepted our short suspense film, "Fight or Flight". It is a simple movie, shot in a few hours by four friends, with a Digital 8 camcorder and an MP3 recorder. It is, first and foremost, a throwback to thrillers by Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles (with a touch of early Robert Rodriguez).
However, it is also a movie that needed to be made. In the last four years alone, we've seen rising extremism, even in the supposedly enlightened Western world. It is becoming all too common for people to be harassed, assaulted, even murdered by various parties, just for wanting peace and compassion in the world. While "Fight or Flight" was made as a response to the Tea Party's violence, and the police brutality of the Toronto G20 summit, it can also speak to the Occupy movement, the Norway terrorist attack, the Arab Spring, and countless other actions.
So "Fight or Flight" is a testament to not only how important it is to say these things, but how easy it is for anyone with imagination to say them.