The making of my feature film.


Alex Conn

When I was between the ages of 12-14, I produced, starred and co wrote(even though there wasn’t a script) a feature length film that was really awful and messy and boring. Not even my mom likes it. It was called Guys Night Out. It was a found footage film similar to something like Paranormal Activity or Blair Witch, but it was also a comedy. The basic plot is it’s about four teenage boys on their last night out together and they just talk about random stuff.

Flash back to October 2014: I was just coming back from the Hamptons Film Festival and I was really inspired and wanted to make a feature and I texted my best friend  Tariq an idea that I had where we would film every night out we would have for the next two years and make it look like one night  and shoot it with our iPhones. It would be super low budget, but in two years we would have a feature length film that we could send to film festivals that would mirror our influences, Kevin Smith and Richard Linklater.

Tariq loved the idea, so we told our friends Stephen and Zach.

The first day of shooting, which was Tariq’s birthday party, went horribly wrong. All of Tariq’s footage did not have sound and of course we did not bring external microphones. My phone was dead at the time, and Stephen was low on storage.

Over 2015, we shot little bits here and there and there were complications; Stephen shot some footage we all liked, but it was hard for him to send; Zach and his mom were very weird about the movie.

In October of 2015 we shot a big part of the movie at New Roc City in New Rochelle. After that the movie seemed pretty real, and we became pretty committed to the film. 2015 was the year in my life that I think influenced the film a lot. I had a massive crush, I was going to the movies every Friday after school, and then I was working with Tariq on Guys Night Out. This was my last year at a private middle school and I had some senioritis. I felt that school no longer mattered and the only things I cared about were thinking about that crush that rejected me the year prior, the film and my rebellion.

Through this point we had another challenge.  Zach officially lost passion for the project. He ditched the group more and more.  He started wanting to be more with girls so that was another challenge.

On the flip side my brother is in the film and he was really committed and passionate about the project. He loved hanging out with older kids and doing something fun like this so as Zach lost interest in the project my brother gained interest.

When I was shooting the film with Tariq, directing it was fun and creative. We all improvised and it was a safe and creative place to spend time with my friends. We all played ourselves, so, naturally, there are parts of our lives discussed in the film.

I felt in January of 2016 that we needed something besides just us hanging out. My friend Nikhil was always someone we found funny, so we shot him talking for 15 minutes. We only used three minutes, but the Nikhil stuff is my favorite part of the movie and, honestly, the only thing that works.

From January to June we were incredibly excited about the movie. I made an IMDB page for the film and Tariq starting making posters and building a soundtrack.

We had our last day of shooting in May of 2016. After this Tariq then started editing the film. I was in Pheonix, AZ at the time and Tariq said he had the final cut at 2 hours and 18 minutes. I was shocked because I was expecting a 90 minute movie. To this day, I have actually never seen this cut.

Tariq then came to my house a month later and he showed me what he had and it was not good, but we were in la la land and we still thought we were making the found footage Dazed and Confused. Tariq then went home and made a 2 hour and 4 minute cut, which I saw months later. It was messier than the previous one, but I wasn’t able to look at the cut objectively.

In October I went to a group called the Evening Film Club in Pelham and I saw kids that were smarter and more advanced than me. I immediately became insecure, but in a good way. It was the first time where I looked at Guys Night Out and looked at it in a negative way. Months later, I showed it to some friends in my film club who told me it was awful. We spent two years making an awful incoherent mess.

Eventually Tariq and I began to see what everyone else saw. That the film was garbage. It wasn’t the film that we wanted it to be. It wasn’t going to a film festival. Tariq even quit filmmaking and pursued music and graphic design.

It is crazy the film was made 4 years ago and it’s been 6 years since we started making the film.   I have tried to watch the film and it has good ideas in the film sometimes but overall it’s a mess and I can’t finish it.  

Sometimes I feel we wasted those years. We could have made a lot more shorts or a more planned out feature film. Sometimes I wish we saw a rough cut of Guys Night Out and abandoned the project and stopped wasting time on it but we had a lot of fun making it.

The reality is also we spent two years making something. A lot of people give up and it’s cool that we at least saw it to the end. 

I learned a lot about objectivity and right now whenever I make something I try to show it to as many people as possible to a level where some people view as too much.

When I think back on this experience I think of the times where we planned the film and I think of the things around it. I remember the era of 2014- 2016.

This is something I look back on with sentimentality and when I started writing this piece I thought I was going to write a joke piece but this is not a joke piece.