Amber Alert is a film that reminds me of how good I can be as a director when the stars align. It’s a giant story that was shrunk down for the purposes of a student film festival. Shrunk down to the point where even some of the bare bones were missing. As I sat in the middle of a crowded banquet hall watching my film play before an audience, I thought to myself, Man, did I underwrite this movie…
We began shooting my rough draft in October 2006. There was no budget, very little time to plan, and I was working with untrained actors, some of whom I’d never met. But no one felt as untrained as me, with only five student films under my belt, none of which adhered to a narrative structure. Filming would go as late as 2 or 3 in the morning, the outdoor conditions we shot in were horrible, the film festival deadline dictated speed over precision so a tripod was hardly used, and one action scene required coordination of 11 people – how did I go from Bananas to this in only three moves?!
But alas, it all came together in the end. After placing third in Oakland University’s student film festival, more footage was shot and added in (everything that’s in color) to complete it as good as it was gonna get at the time. The end result is something I cherish… even if it does mean staring at my ex’s face and listening to her awful line readings haha. The counterpoints to that were Mike Dennie’s surprising performance giving a lot of emotional weight to the dialogue, and the revelation of Courtney Clogg as Allie, who walked into my home that second shooting day and improvised lines that had me jumping for joy behind the camera. She is a natural.
Over the years, as more people have seen it, it’s become one of my most beloved films among my friends and family – not as much as Purple Heart’s Final Beat, or in some circles, Bananas, but you get handed gifts of inspiration like those once in a lifetime. But lately there’s been surprisingly more and more people asking the question: “Have you thought about making this into a feature film?”
The answer is “yes.”
The story of the Youngs is ripe for expansion and fleshing out in a way that none of my other short films ever have been. Not to mention, Amber Alert concludes with what is hands-down the biggest bitch-slap I’ve ever delivered to an audience. It leaves virtually everyone emotionally shaken and unsettled, and if it came after a fully-realized feature-length vision of this story, I know in my gut it would bring the house down.
So maybe one day we’ll see a feature length Amber Alert. I’ve been developing how I would further the story in my head for a while now. I think it would be pretty kick ass. Enjoy the original and let me know your thoughts!