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Behind the Scenes with Ragtag Productions (5/8/06)

 

 

 

Steven Tsapelas

The resident writer of Ragtag Productions.

Angel Acevedo

The resident Director of Photography/Editor/Technical Whiz of Ragtag Productions.

Brian  Amyot

The director of all Ragtag’s competition films.

           

 

Double Dip 2: Or How Winning the Brooklyn Midnight Run Nearly Ruined Our Lives  -  Written by Steven Tsapelas

 

Shortly after winning the Brooklyn Midnight Run, Ragtag Productions fell into a downward spiral of cheap booze, easy women, and violent arguments about which team member had the highest midichlorian count. (This is the first and last ‘Episode I’ reference in this article)

 

Of course, it wasn’t always like that.

 

We started out innocently enough at a bar in Brooklyn eagerly awaiting the reveal of the Midnight Run’s “theme.” When it was announced as “bad advice,” we panicked. I remarked, “What kind of sick bastards makes a theme like that?” In retrospect, I would’ve said that about any theme. 

 

After first thinking of the most clichéd idea ever (a short film called “Bad Advice” about a guy who always gives “bad advice”), we panicked a little more.

 

Then, Brian Amyot harkened back to an hour earlier, when he and I were making fun of fellow team member Angel Acevedo’s DVD collection, which contains such gems as ‘The Patriot,’ ‘Swordfish,’ and, of course, “the 4 disc ‘Pearl Harbor’ Special Edition DVD.” Angel also owns the “2 disc bare bones ‘Pearl Harbor’ DVD.”

 

You see, back in ’02, Angel, fully aware that a ‘Pearl Harbor’ Special Edition was on the way, couldn’t contain himself, and had to buy the 2 disc to “hold him over.” Rarely a day has gone by since this fateful purchase that Brian and I haven’t made fun of him for it. 

 

So, on the night of the Midnight Run, Brian shot out, “What if we just make a giant inside joke that no one but us will get?” 

 

And that’s how we came up with the idea of “Double Dip: Or How Four Discs of Pearl Harbor Ruined My Life,” a cautionary tale about a young man whose friend advises him to double dip on the ‘Pearl Harbor’ DVD. This sets forward a chain of events that ruins the young man’s life. 

 

I quickly pounded out a script that I was sure no one else would appreciate. The only thing I remember about the writing process is at one point I turned to Angel and said, “Make a list of ridiculous DVD special editions.” From this list I chose ‘The Fast and the Furious: Tricked Out Edition’ and worked it into a speech. 

 

At around 5AM, the cast and crew arrived and found us sleepless, un-showered and slightly mad, babbling about “Affleck” and “Bay.” Still, they stuck around, mostly because they had all already taken the day off from work and knew we’d be providing them with a hot lunch.

 

The actual shooting of the film allowed Ragtag to do one of its favorite things… pick on and torture resident leading man Jeff Schine.

 

You see, back in college, we tried to make a feature length film with the express purpose of meeting girls. However, we stupidly let handsome, young, physically fit Jeff Schine star in this film. So instead of the girls falling for us, they all fell for Jeff Schine. To this day, we remain bitter about it, and usually cast him out of spite. On this shoot, we brutally made fun of him, then made him sit in a dirty alleyway on a pile of broken glass. Later, he told us he was having stomach problems from our glorious pizza lunch. Our immediate response was to bump up the “prostitute scene,” and have actress Ginger Kearns lie down directly on top of Jeff’s pained stomach. This caused Jeff to say, “I’ve never had to poop so bad in my life.”

 

Later, Jeff pooped.

 

Immediately after principal photography had been completed, Angel rushed back to the apartment to begin the digitizing process. He was chosen for this task because he loves action movies and therefore thinks he can drive fast. He also constantly refers to himself as ‘Delta’ and ‘an Action Junkie.’

 

Twenty minutes later, we finished packing up the equipment, and Brian and I headed back to the apartment to catch up with Angel. When we arrived, he was nowhere to be found. This led us to a very logical conclusion.

 

“Angel’s dead.”

 

Hey, it made sense. Brian and I sat on the couch for a good twenty minutes wondering how we were going to get this movie done with a dead editor and no raw footage. Then we thought, “Who gets Angel’s DVD collection?”

 

Finally, Angel showed up to a hero’s welcome of, “Where the f*ck were you!?”

 

Apparently, he had pulled over to take a nap, then got lost on the way back to his apartment. Now a good 45 minutes behind, we rolled up our sleeves and began piecing the movie together.

 

We quickly realized what we’d known all along. Brian said, “We made a movie that only we’ll laugh at.” Angel said, “Well, we won’t win, but we might as well turn it in.”

 

But we almost didn’t even do that.

 

You see, Brian and Angel had such a rough time with the exporting process that they almost thought they wouldn’t make the deadline. Delirious from not having slept in a couple of days, they were about ready to give up and turn into their respective beds.

 

Luckily, clearer heads prevailed, and they dropped it off at the meeting place just in time. Then they slept for a good couple of days.

 

Upon waking, we learned that we would be in the ‘Best of’ screening. This blew our minds.

 

Before the screening, I kept threatening people with “I’m going to throw up.” I usually feel this way before screenings or whenever I face some kind of pressure in my daily life, so it wasn’t uncommon. But I remember repeating over and over, “No one is going to laugh. People are going to hate us. We made a big inside joke.”

 

But they did laugh! And loudly! And with a newfound zest for life! (I can’t validate that last part.)

 

     

Clips from the making of 'Double Dip' - Winning film from The Brooklyn Midnight Run 2005

 

After a few more films, it was time for the awards ceremony. We held our breaths. I was pulling for 2nd Runner Up, because it would mean that we’d won something and then could be done with this intense ordeal.

 

When we didn’t get that, I was pulling for First Runner Up.

 

When we didn’t get that, I thought we’d go home empty handed.

 

Then they announced, “And the grand prize goes to ‘Ragtag Productions.’”

 

Brian was already on stage at this point, so Angel and I fought our way through the rain of celebratory balloons to get up there with him. As I looked out on a crowd filled with people I didn’t know, I thought, “This might be the greatest moment of poor Angel’s life.”

 

But it was indeed Ragtag’s finest hour. We were proud of ourselves and celebrated at the Slaughtered Lamb Pub. We toasted to the future and took our victory like gentlemen.

 

However, more awards were announced a week later. We had also won Best Directing, Editing, Writing, Cinematography, and Lead Actor (Jeff Schine). This immediately went to our heads. We became monsters.

 

We bragged and bragged and bragged. After a few weeks of bragging, we realized it had been a few weeks since we’d done any real work. People had already forgotten about our victory and stopped caring about us. Our fragile egos damaged, we decided to enter NYC Midnight’s Two Week Filmmaking Competition, where we made the erotic thriller “My Imaginary Friend Lars Stevens.” (Actually, our genre was romantic comedy… but we sure did make an erotic one!) The film won a few awards.

 

Our egos rejuvenated, Ragtag Productions continued its path towards global dominance, one silly movie at a time.

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To learn more about Ragtag Productions, visit www.ragtagfilms.net

 

Ragtag Productions continues to thrive in the wake of their Brooklyn Midnight Run success. They recently churned out the instant holiday classic “Merry Christmas… I Got You Herpes.” They are also currently in pre-production on a new short with the working title “Untitled Lance Henriksen Romantic Comedy.” If anyone knows Lance Henriksen, please contact info@ragtagfilms.net . Boy, would we love to work with Lance Henriksen.

 

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Steven Tsapelas

 

 

 

 

   

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