Over a decade ago, I devised an idea for a webseries that could be filmed very cheaply. A romantic comedy about two podcasters who used to date one another, but who now do shows about their now separate lives. This show, called The Ex-Factor, would be about the length of a feature-length movie broken up into short episodes. As the majority of the series would be the two leads recording their podcast in a home studio, the filming could happen on a compressed schedule.
I pitched the idea to a few different people I’ve worked with in the past. Malarkey Films, a group of people based in Somerville, MA who formed to make films for the 48 Hour Film Project, took it on. We cast, we assembled, we prepared, and we filmed the whole thing in four shooting days! The plan worked!
Except… the part where someone edits it into something that can be uploaded for the world to see. The filming came together in a couple of months and took four days. The editing took THREE YEARS. The editor of the team wasn’t able to tackle it immediately. The multicamera filming method that made the filming nimble made editing difficult. For three years it sat on backburners. I taught myself film editing software to try to move it along. Life went on. Many of the people involved drifted away, stopped being as involved in filmmaking for fun. The momentum I envisioned for this dissipated as the months and then years passed. I had a kid. Priorities changed. As I said, life went on.
And then finally in 2015 it was posted. We had a web site. They posted it with pro editing and music! We sent the link along. noting that it now felt like more of a period piece as the pop culture debating main characters were now discussing issues in the rear view of pop culture relevancy. It was imperfect, of course, but I liked it a lot. The leads were great, the story held up. I’m genuinely proud of what we did, and I wish more people had seen it.
The website that was set up lapsed, and the pro-edited version is now hidden. So much time has passed I don’t actually want to bug them to dig that up. I do have the rough cut I put together when I was learning editing software. If you are curious enough to watch it, this… is the Ex Factor.
There aren’t proper credits in this, so let me put in a rudimentary listing.
Hilary - Holly Schaff
Josh - Mike Handelman
Sandy - Eleanor Marks
Freddy - Casey Preston
Other roles: Robert Woo, Daniel Gelinas, Sharon Kubo
Written by Greg Lam
Directed by Jack Cushman
Cinematography by Ben Pender-Cudlip
Speaking in general, there was a lot of talented people involved in this production. Holly’s trajectory is similar to her character, going from an office job to becoming a working actor. Mike Handelman moved to New York City to act and play music and is now apparently pitching movie ideas to executives in Hollywood. The Malarkey Films team basically perfected the 48 Hour Film Project process and made ambitious films that came darn close to winning their competitions. Ben Pender-Cudlip is an accomplished documentary filmmaker. Robert Woo, who played only a small part in this series, is in Hollywood making his bones as a writer and actor. I’ve gone on to have plays produced, earned a Mass Cultural Council fellowship, and ironically, I’m podcasting!
This project holds an odd place in my heart. It had so much potential that I think we almost struck, but due to timing and other factors, just faded away before we could fully harness it. If you’re reading this, I hope you give it a chance and let me know what you think.