Costello’s director journey continues, part 2 – an essay

Colin Costello directing “The After Party”

So here we were. NJ Bourque and myself. Yep, we were going to do it. We were going to make a short film on our own and I was going to direct this puppy.

On the surface, I felt as confident as Jordan in the paint, as I had worked with some of the best in the business — Spike Lee, Michael Bay, Marcus Nispel, Jaume Collet-Sera, Pam Thomas and Malcolm Lee. I was ready. I could do this. Yes, yes.

All of that sounded great over wine with NJ. However, in the morning, while drinking coffee, I was more like, “What the f**k have I committed myself to?”

Don’t get me wrong, I had made short films before and had been inspired by the likes of Larry Ziegelman, with whom we made a great, award-winning DC Comics Fan Film, Little Man of Steel, Lloyd Stein, First Kiss, and Monica Zaffarano with whom I collaborated on our webseries, Lost n’ Found. And of course, there was Larry’s twin brother, Terry, with whom we made our geek festival darling, the DC Comics Fan Film Committed.

NJ BourqueThe fact is when it comes down to it, I’m a wuss. God help me if Donald Trump is around. I’m deathly afraid of failure and embarrassment. So, on my own projects (not the features) I always made sure I had a safety net.

Whether it was my co-writers on Lost n’ Found, Brenna Leigh and Ashley Alvarado or my co-producer and star of Committed, my eternal crush, Brandi Price, I always felt I could kind of hide in their shadows and focus on the story.

Not anymore. Oh boy. I was going to put myself front and center. So, armed with my own idiosyncrasies, and NJ’s unflinching confidence, we began to go about setting up a team.

I needed to find a Co-Producer, someone as crazy as me, but someone who believed in me as well. That came in the form of a petite, sassy blonde whose heart and drive are triple her size.

I will say it here. Rachel Amanda Bryant, who I was introduced to at the Burbank International Film Festival, is going to be big. Like BIG. She is that talented.

I was not only impressed by her acting in her award-winning horror short, Jet Set/LA. I was super dazzled by her production skills. Although it was a short, it didn’t feel like a typical short with bad sound and hand-held cameras. Rachel had managed to create a world of high quality production. For 1000 bucks. Yes, $1000. I was blown away.

So, I asked her to read The After Party to play the lead role of Skye.

Rachel Amanda Bryant

To me, Rachel embodied everything that I visualized about the troubled character — a certain innocence on the surface, but a complex person fighting to get out underneath. Rachel was the first (and only) actress I felt could really balance the complexities of a social media queen completely addicted to herself.

That’s when I got into trouble. Rachel said, “yes.” She loved the script and not only wanted to play Skye, but wanted to produce.

On the outside I was jumping up and down. On the inside, I was like, “F****ck. I really have to make this now.” See, Rachel takes her craft very seriously. She is one of the most driven people I know. I could not waste her time. WE HAD TO BEGIN THE PROCESS OF ACTUALLY MAKING THE AFTER PARTY.

When I was seven, I had bragged and boasted, to my teenage cousin Mark, that my group of seven-year-olds could beat him and his teenage buddies at baseball. Mark, of course thought I was nuts, but he gave in (I think my mom pressured my aunt) and the challenge was set. We would play the “Giants” at Sedgewick Playground in good ol’ Mt. Airy (that’s Philadelphia btw).

We talked as much trash as any seven-year-old could. They took it on the chin. We knew we had them. They were “skurred.” Confidence was in abundance all week in the tree-lined neighborhood of Mt. Airy. But on game day, that confidence balloon had a pin put into it as everyone, except me and my best friend Brian, chickened out. This was an epic fail. Luckily, my dad came along and kept the teenage bullies from beating us physically (to join our egos) into home plate.

It’s a feeling I never forgot. And I carry with me to this day. The idea of making a film with my name on it, front and center, was a daunting thought. But sometimes you have to just do it.

So, after a few breakfast meetings in the Fall, Rachel and I decided that we were going to first crowdfund and then shoot the short in March 2017. I felt pretty confident about that as I had helped raise money for my two previous projects. But we would have to assemble a team. A crowdfunding project does not succeed without a dedicated team. It would have to be the best team I had ever put together. That team building began at Rachel’s birthday party in Hollywood where I would meet a bubbly strawberry blonde…


LA-Based Colin Costello writes for film, TV, advertising and of course, Reel Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @colincostello10.