2016’s The New Millennial Tramp – director’s notes

A message from Joseph:
I’ve been in contact with Rob Bowen recently, as we’re currently working on the sequel to 2016’s Is That My Wallet? that was so successful for us at the 14ers Film Festival, he mentioned that he lost his website and had to start over.  It turns out that it can still be accessed thanks to the Wayback Machine, and I thought it was important to make sure his thoughts on our collaboration were preserved.  Here they are:

In this silent, postmodern comedy, the New Millenial Tramp begins an adventure to recover his stolen wallet after a thief knocks him out and steals it from him.

Written & Directed by Rob Bowen
Assistant Director: Katie Hermanson
Starring: Rob Bowen & Katie Hermanson
Original Score by: Joseph Irvin


– Was made for and won 1st Prize in the Judging & tied for Audience Choice’s Best Use of Genre/Prompt at Colorado Springs 14’ers Film Festival – December 2016

Director’s Notes

As my 20th short film, I am particularly proud of this one, but for so many other reasons beyond that, I swell with pride at this entry in my gallery of work. The 14’ers Film Festival was a brainchild of mine that I took to the Film Club as my last major act as the President in the fall of 2016. We decided it would play out very much in the vein of the 48hour Film Project, wherein a designated number of teams (a max of 14 in our case) would sign up and be given specific prompts and genre assignments for the (14 minute or less) short films they would then have 14 days to script, shoot, edit and otherwise complete. Having decided in the beginning, that I myself would not be participating in the festival, getting here was quite the feat and something of a complete turnaround. A turnaround that proved utterly successful.

Before the close of the Info Night event where the teams came together, signed up, and took their prompts, there were rumblings of teams not being able to complete the task in the already quickly approaching 14 day deadline. Wanting to help ensure a successful first year for the event, and knowing we were only at the halfway mark of 7 teams as it was, I felt that throwing my hat into the ring was becoming more imperative to flesh out the final film roll call at the end of the deadline and guarantee that whatever audience we managed to gather had at least more films to screen than they could count on one hand. Still, though, I sat on the prompts (silent comedy for genre and the general ones assigned to each group, that the film must include one character waking up with another standing over them, and the first line of dialogue had to be “is that my wallet?”) for several days before deciding to move forward and get my script together.

On the third day, a revelation hit me like a pipe to the back of the head. Suddenly pieces of the film were coming together, and I had the major elements already running through my mind as I sat down to pen the piece and see what I could make come together using the assigned prompts. With a looming deadline, and the prompts I drew, I knew I needed to keep things simple. Create and play off of the situational comedy as much as possible. Knowing I wanted to channel Chaplin, the character of the New Millennial Tramp was born, and everything pretty much flowed from there. Before I knew it, the script was completed and I was reaching out to potential cast and crew! Before the close of the first week, I had about 8 other people involved. Five as potential cast/extras and three to aid me behind the scenes (two on the day, and Joe to compose the score). Things were looking up, and this film was seeming like a complete possibility. With commitments in place, we set the schedule, giving us a single afternoon to get the film completely shot so Joe and I could have the weekend for scoring and editing respectively. Little did I know, that come the end of the next week, practically everything we had set would fall apart.

By the Friday before the Monday deadline for the film (our day of shooting), I had already lost communication with three of the people involved in the project, two of the on screen actors/extras and one behind the scenes crew who doubled as a potential actor. With my messages going unreturned, I had prepared to drop one of the sequences from the script to work around this potential issue, should the need arise on the day. Which it did. Also, on the day, I awoke to a message from my Tramp that unexpected car troubles suddenly rendered him unable to participate. No problem, I told myself, I should have plenty of help so that I could step in as the Tramp and we would be able to pull it all off. I arrived on location ready to fill the Tramp’s shoes, and began setting things up when I received another message of an actor in distress fifteen minutes before everyone was to arrive! The Thief had been involved in a car accident on the way to the film, and, while unhurt, was now stuck waiting for that situation to resolve itself. Clearly the cinema gods were trying to tell me something I was not to receptive to hearing. That the film was likely not to happen.

But I was determined to not be deterred. I ran back home quickly to grab a second costume. I would now play both Tramp and Thief, and beg Katie to step in front of the camera too as Janet (given the lack of communication from the actors I had for that role). When she arrived on set, I explained our predicament and what we were now facing, all the while expressing my desire to see it through regardless. She smiled wide, and I knew we were set to do the nearly impossible! Make this short film, on location in Manitou Springs, with just the two of us, and some minor adjustments to the script. I ran around, doing quick changes left and right to allow the filming to flow from location to location with ease. Katie helped more than she was comfortable with or prepared for with regard to both acting and working the camera, but she handled it like a freaking champ!

The punches kept coming throughout the shoot, especially in the beginning, but we rolled with every one and adapted like pros as the afternoon wore on, and the end of our shoot approached. Going only thirty minutes passed the end of our proposed schedule seemed like a miracle in and of itself, let alone the fact that here we stood four and half hours later, having completely gotten what we needed shot! I started getting footage to Joe as quickly as I could get it rendered and uploaded so he could see what he was facing in terms of scoring (a rough draft with some themes had already been crafted and shared with me beforehand). By Sunday evening, we had a completed film, with less than twelve hours remaining before the deadline. And one I could not have been prouder of!

When the judges read the results and our film had taken top honors and tied for an Audience choice award, I was stunned, and so completely humbled at our efforts paying off so magnificently, that I was left speechless. Now having recovered my voice, though not necessarily from the shock of the short’s reception, I can say here, thank you Katie and Joe for helping me make my 20th short, an award winning, memorable experience I will never forget, and never not be proud of. We did it!