Jerusalem Film Festival 2012 – Making Movie Magic

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A girl on a red bike, a handful of balloons, the full moon, and Jerusalem – it’s magical. It’s the poster image for the Jerusalem Film Festival 2012, and on opening night at the Sultan’s Pool, the image came to life in this lovely short film created by Nelli Guy and Dan Sachar:

Moments of magic in the movies don’t just happen; every minute onscreen is the product of many hours of work. Yet somehow Guy and Sachar managed to make it all happen in 48 hours.

Festival Director Alesia Weston shared the story of the sprint-speed production with Midnight East, and a conversation with filmmaker Nelli Guy filled in the details:

“A week before the festival’s opening ceremony, when Line Producer Eran Polishuk invited us to pitch an idea, Dan and I were in the midst of the 48 hour film project and all that madness. So Eran knew we could make a film in just a few days, because that’s what we were doing.

As soon as we finished that project, we sat down on Saturday to brainstorm and decided that it would be fun to work with the image of the festival’s poster. We presented the idea to the festival on Sunday at 10:00 am; they immediately liked the idea, and we started on another 48 hour adventure.

Sunday was pre-production – finding our actors, making phone calls all day while scouting locations in Jerusalem, getting our crew and equipment together. We wanted to keep it down to one car, so we hired a jeep that could hold the two of us, an assistant camera person, make-up artist and the main actress – Yonit Tobi. The other actors had to arrive at their locations independently, at the appointed hour, so there was a lot of organization and planning involved. We slept for about 2 – 3 hours that night and filmed it all on Monday.”

Guy and Shachar were thrilled when Yonit Tobi,  a young actress who has already won critical attention and awards, including the Israeli Theatre Prize for Best Actress, agreed to participate in the film. But finding a vintage red bike for her to ride posed a challenge for the filmmakers. “We started calling everyone we knew in Jerusalem,” Guy recalled.

Behind the scenes: it takes a dedicated team to create an illusion.

Eventually, they did find a red bike and by 5:30 am on Monday morning, packed everyone in the jeep for a day of filming, stopping first at a gas station to grab a quick bite to eat while filling up the tank. The coffee was good, but when the team went back to the car they discovered that the balloons were gone. It was a mystery – no one had seen them fly off, but the car was empty and the balloons were gone. It was another tense moment for the team – “Where was I going to find 15 balloons at 6:00am?” – and timing was crucial. Happily, everything worked out.

Reflecting on the dizzying process of those two days, Guy said that the festival was wonderfully supportive, “they were all for us, and did everything they could to help us out.” On the production end, the most complex location was the Israel Museum, “usually a place like that requires a long process of getting permits – but they were great with us. They were really glad to be part of the visual aspect of the festival and the images of Jerusalem that we wanted to represent. The Israel Museum staff members who worked with us are simply wonderful people and despite the bureaucracy really did everything to help us.”

On Wednesday morning they had a version to deliver to the festival and the composer for the soundtrack, and by Wednesday night at 20:00 they ran a test screening, and the finished film was screened before a very appreciative audience at the festival’s opening ceremony on Thursday, July 5, 2012.

29th The Jerusalem Film Festival’s Opening Short Film, created by Nelli Guy and Dan Sachar
Cast by appearance: Yonit Tobi, Yuval Greenfield, Yehela Agmon, Alon Vanger, Hadar Sason, Nurit Steinfeld, Rami Leon.
Production team: Guy Lahav, Gali Griffel, Tehila Guy.
Original Music by Dror Shiman