Making Movies: The Birdman Phenomenon

Movies are a big passion of mine, so it should be no surprise that I've had my hand in some video productions. All amateur, of course, but I like to think I've gotten better with each project. My first forays into video were naturally just fooling around with buddies in our backyards. We'd film ourselves fighting with stick swords, making silly infomercials, lip-syncing videos, fighting with real swords, shooting each other with BB guns, and planning many projects we'd never get around to finishing. We did finally finish a couple of videos that we'd even submitted to local high school film festivals, the best of the bunch being The Birdman Phenomenon. 

Mr. Belling

Like all heroes in the Hero's Journey, I had a wise man to help me make movies. He was Mr. Belling, my physics teacher. But he wasn't just any physics teacher, he was also Michael Belling, who worked as an Hollywood editor on the films Rocky V, Snow Dogs, Camp Nowhere, and of course, Baywatch Nights:

After starting a family, he moved to Western New York, and started passing along his film knowledge to his students. In my junior year in high school, my friends and I learned that the local community college had been running a Digital Media Festival, and we could submit films. Mr. Belling was happy to show us how to film and edit, and we spent a lot of time working on our first film for the festival: Talent. 


The concept for Talent was a bit half-baked. At the time, mockumentaries like The Office were very popular, and the previous submission that won the film festival was a mockumentarie. Therefore, the first idea we came up with was a mockumentary. While the genre wasn't new, we were still able to think up a fresh setting and characters. Check it out for yourself:

The short didn't come out too bad, but the biggest issue was the ending. We didn't win the best film award because the ending was deemed too mean-spirited. They might have been on to something there. We didn't let that stop us, though, and in our senior year we put together a short film that would outshine the first: The Birdman Phenomenon.

The Birdman Phenomenon

High school can be a little dull sometimes, but we always managed to make things fun. Over the summer a couple of us learned to play a game called Birdman. We started playing the game all around school, and when it came time to dream up our next film, it was only natural to base it around Birdman. At the time of filming our school was under constructions, which led to some drab backgrounds, but also offered some great settings, like the training scene. Check it out:

We submitted the film to the Digital Media Festival and we did end up winning the best film! We also submitted to a local high school's film festival and won best comedy. The phenomenon continued even after we graduated. My younger siblings let me know they've been shown the film, and at that time, the game picks up again. I'm happy the short has received so many accolades, because I feel it could be improved in so many ways. Maybe one day, I'll reboot the concept. Until then, I'll be working on Poppin Soles!