• Paige Hart

It begins...

Updated: Feb 6

As anyone following my social pages knows, I'm working on a DIY short film project this year; working title: The Death of Miss Diva. I decided I'd start this blog to document the process, because I've fallen head over heels in love with working on this project and I don't want to stop talking, thinking, or dreaming about it. It covers so many genres they're easier to dot point, but loosely it's a short comedy-horror-burlesque-whodunnit I cast actual burlesque performers in. This was important to me as burlesque is such a huge part of my world; to only be represented by the questionable movie "Burlesque" is something that doesn't sit well with me or for many others in our industry.

But let's start at the beginning. This project was born right after Halloween 2021, when I put together "Lady Hart's Halloween Spooktacular"; a 45 minute online burlesque variety show with a spooky theme. For the past few years, my husband Jeb and I had been making little music videos for Halloween in lieu of being able to perform due to Covid or put on the Grand Halloween Ball I've wanted to. It wasn't the first time I'd dragged my close network of friends and peers into making videos with me, and of course hilarity ensued. On Halloween night, the Spooktacular aired; and the positive feedback was immediate and overwhelming. As soon as November 1st, my inbox was getting inundated every single morning: "Make a longer video, please!", "Have you thought about doing longer videos??" And let me tell you; at the time I hadn't. Video making is something I've grown to truly love over the last few years, I started out making just little aesthetic videos of roses and hearts and beautiful things and teaching myself different editing techniques to achieve what I saw it looking like in my head.

But the seed had been planted. I'd been gifted the opportunity of enthusiasm for my work and it empowered me. At one of our nightly sit down chats, Jeb and I discussed what the next step would look like, what a bigger project would entail and ultimately - what I wanted to make. There was also the big financial question: Just how low is a "low budget" film? Because this wouldn't be a matter of "Oh, I made a film on a small budget; only $15, 000", this was a matter of "I've got about fifty bucks, an OK camera, a glue gun and one hell of a dream".

And so, The Death of Miss Diva was born. I plugged it to Jeb as a 20 minute short, silent, black and white arthouse film. As basically all of my projects do, the seeded idea grew into the finished 45 minute - 1 hour long screenplay of the film literally last week. From silence to fully developed characters and a plot line with several twists, I'm enjoying the process of this project more than I ever have on any other project in my life. I knew I wanted to continue on the comedy horror path like in my music videos because we all need a little bit of laughter to lighten the mood. Extensive gore isn't my jam, I'm more inspired by the mood and aesthetics of directors like Ed Wood, Hitchcock, and Kubrik. Clever angles and murders like they're from a magazine. What I truly love though - are the mistakes. Ed Wood's in particular. Here was a man who knew what he wanted to do, and it didn't matter that none of it was perfect. For a man who went down as "The Worst Director of All Time", he certainly inspired future generations towards the joys of purposeful B grade.

In the end, the screenplay (and inevitable finished product) highlights a few important issues; burlesque as mentioned but also touching on the issues with the mental health system and the prices we pay in the pursuit of success. Putting together the soundtrack has been such a huge joy as well, I've been able to pick songs that have been the mantras through different phases of my life. I'm someone who uses music to express their current thoughts or overarching mood, so it was really special to me to be able to choose songs that reflected my relationship with who I would be working with in that scene. For instance, in Mya Mercury's big scene, she presses play on the stereo and the version of "Old Town Road" we have a duo routine to plays. I love love LOVE this lend to our earlier work together. The screenplay has a lot of Easter Eggs like this and I feel like I'm going to have to do a commentary on it at some point.

Where am I up to now? In less than 2 weeks I've got the first big group shoot day and I couldn't be more excited; I wish I could bring it forward because I'm so eager to get working on it. As 2022 shapes up to look like a year of more uncertainty, I'm so happy to be able to get to produce this film as something my peers can look forward to and work on no matter what the state of the world. I'm truly humbled the amount of people who have stepped forward to volunteer their time and talent to help me; I couldn't ask for more beautiful or generous souls surrounding me.

I'll be using this blog to document the work behind the scenes and everything in the lead up to the big premiere, mostly as a record for myself and so I stop boring everyone who doesn't want to hear about it on my personal Facebook!

If you'd stumbled here and are looking to join in on the movie making fun, all the latest is posted in the Miss Diva Short Film Facebook group. I'm always after extras and featured extras!

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