Source: Sherman Publications

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Film puts texting in ‘Context’

by Andrew Moser

June 15, 2011

Oxford resident and director David Thompson (left) on the set of his short film "Context," a satirical look at texting. With Thompson is his assistant director Elizabeth Miller, of Perry, Michigan. Photo provided.
Texting has become a language all to itself, full of one letter words and three letter phrases.

Oxford resident David Thompson decided to take a satirical look at texting in his short film "Context", which took sixth place at the Christian Filmmakers 36-Hour contest held on May 27-28.

"It was a fun, over-the-top comedic situation," Thompson said.

In "Context," a teenage girl is at a bowling alley texting her friend when a swat team descends upon her because she is using "leetspeak."

"Leetspeak is completely butchering the English language," Thompson explained. "It is replacing words with numbers; you see it in text all the time. There will be the letters r u (representing are you), misspelled words, bad punctuation and things like that."

After spending some time with the "Editors", a secret society teaching people how to properly write the English language, the girl is seen texting a properly formed message.

A total of 60 points were awarded in five categories - story, cinematography, sound, performance and editing.

Context received a score of 39.2.

Thompson had to wait two weeks before hearing from the judges and was pleased when he got the results.

Some of the judges comments included, "What a fun story. You had some good comedy mixed in with adventure and drama...your creative use of camera angles mixed with the chopper sound made the team's entrance believable. Your use of visual effects was also done well and helped keep the interest of the audience."

Another judge wrote, "the last 10 seconds of the boy texting d00d and the replay of the gear being packed really brought the joke around. If you had not added that final bit, the film would have suffered immensely for it."

Thompson's video can be seen at www.youtube.com/fwproductions.

Christian Filmmakers 36-hour contest was sponsored by christianfilmmakers.org, an international group of Christian filmmakers comprised of 2,500 members.

In order to ensure the movie was made within the designated time limit, each film had to contain three of seven security elements ranging from a line of dialogue to a prop, which were released right before filming began.

Thompson used all seven in "Context," which was shot at a bowling alley in Rochester Hills.

He began shooting the film on Friday, May 27 and uploaded the film to YouTube on the evening of Saturday, May 28. He credits his assistant director, Elizabeth Miller from Perry, MI, for helping him pull the movie together.

"Film is a collaborative effort. She really stepped in and carried the ball well," Thompson said.

His interest in film began at a young age when he first started writing.

"I started out as a writer, and I still am a writer," Thompson said. "As a teenager, I realized I had a serious interest in film...I studied film on my own, and in 2006, I did an internship on an American feature film shot over in Poland."

"That was kind of big to see it all come together on a professional set," Thompson added. "Since then I have been doing my own film opportunities at my own opportunity."

Thompson said his ultimate goal is to be able to build his own studio in southeast Michigan.

"My dream and my goal is to build my own studio, not only to do my own films, butit allows me to pick up other screenplays and other producers to become a full studio where I can finance and distribute other films as well," he said.

Thompson said the time is right for Michigan to start "cultivating our own home grown film industry" instead of relying on Hollywood to come in and spend its money.

"The money they (Hollywood) spend here is only a temporary boost to our economy...and once the film incentives are gone - or another state comes in with better incentives - Hollywood will pull up tent stakes and move on like the circus, leaving behind a whole host of people with new skills in film support industries but little to no employment," he said.

"The technology is now available for independent filmmakers like myself to build something truly wonderful, but we're going to need support from the community to make it happen," he said.

It takes a whole community, from volunteers to major investors, to make a film happen, Thompson said.

"Film is a collaborative art, and I want to see local film studios become as much a part of the communities in which they are built as the churches, restaurants and the local newspaper," he said.

For his next project, Thompson is looking to shoot a 20-25 minute science fiction film around Oxford. "I have connections in the community...and I think that would be good for Oxford as a community," he said.