JAMIE KLOTZ’S ORIGINS, PART 3

THE WEEK IN HOT SPRINGS

Following Gump’s prior antics in “A Day in Hot Springs” and the partially completed “Quest for the Lost Treasures,” we had scripted five other “days,” which could be released on *cough*MySpace*cough* as webseries episodes. Because of a large number of issues in production, the extent to which each was completed varied highly, and though fewer elements from these were later reused in Jamie Klotz’s Diary, the ones that were carried over were significant.

1001 ARABIAN GUMPS

The third “day in Hot Springs” was, essentially, a beat for beat rip-off of the classic Disney film, Aladdin, with Gump filling the Aladdin role, except the villain introduced was an annoying short pipsqueak known as “Half-Pint.” Complete with two musical numbers, almost none of this script was filmed as it was one of the last scripts of the seven days written (it was also the least connected to the other episodes, plotwise.)

However, in 2009, Gump and Matt (Dr. Lawrence in Jamie Klotz’s Diary) did film one scene that we adapted from the original script into a single short where Jesse meets the Genie of the Trash Can.

Sahera's costume was directed to be Arabian-influenced as a callback to one Week in Hot Springs script.
Sahera’s costume was directed to be Arabian-influenced as a callback to one Week in Hot Springs script.

Another element from this script that sort-of led to inspiration in JKD was the incorporation of an Arabian theme in the design of Sahera’s costume by Bridgett Hill. But, with this script having never been filmed, it wasn’t much of a reference. It just looked cool.

Visit http://www.seraphimtheatricalentertainment.com/ to learn more about Bridgett’s current endeavors!

PARADOX

The fourth day in Hot Springs script, however, heavily influenced Jamie Klotz’s Diary II in very specific ways. I’ll try not to spoil the plot of JKD2, but Paradox saw Jesse having his car, The Gumpmobile, stolen, leading to a montage scene (see the last column for video comparisons on that scene.) After finding the car, (it having been stolen and destroyed by Half-Pint) Gump is gifted a kitchen timer by his girlfriend that coincidentally doubles as a time machine.

The Men in Dark Gray are introduced in Paradox.
The Men in Dark Gray are introduced in Paradox.

Sensing some time-travelly antics, two secret agents show up to capture the offender, and Jesse escapes to a prior episode and brings a past version of himself to the current episode to help.  These agents were known as “The Men in Dark Gray.” Though they were cast, nothing was actually filmed with these characters, but in Jamie Klotz’s Diary II, we learn that in Jamie’s alternate timeline, Eric the FBI Agent has been promoted to inter-dimensional duty as one of the Men in Dark Gray, and has powers of his own.

The Man in Dark Gray threatens Jamie and Ryan, demanding the diary.
The Man in Dark Gray threatens Jamie and Ryan, demanding the diary.

Jamie Klotz’s Diary II originally also called for multiple MIDG, but scheduling limited the number to one, played by Sam Martin, with the power to multiply himself.

Another element from Paradox that later influenced Jamie Klotz’s Diary II in a minor way was the script-only distinction between Future Jesse and Past Jesse.

Jesse of the present day (right) brings
Jesse of the present day (right) brings “PJ” (left) up to speed.
“PJ” ruminates on what to ask of her future self.

Throughout Paradox and War of the Dandelions (the final day in Hot Springs), the Jesse from the past is referenced to as “PJ.” Whilst originally not even mentioned in the script, halfway through shooting JKD2 the original scene of Jamie travelling into her past was rewritten to take her into her future, and an exchange about what the two Jamies should call each other was added to the script in an homage to the other “PJ” and also establishing the playful attitude of the Jamies toward each other.

ADVENTURES IN HOT SPRINGS

Only one element from any of the other episodes of the Week in Hot Springs carried over to Jamie Klotz’s Diary. That element was filmed once but was unfortunately taped over before it was transferred to dgital, so only a few frames exist from that shoot. Coincidentally, it’s a twist that, if revealed, actually would ruin the plot of JKD2, so I will wait until the movie is out to reveal that part!

Art by Jesse Needham
Art by Jesse Needham

Anyway, after what seemed like an utter, abysmal failure in my attempt to be something like a filmmaker, I finally gave up on the Week in Hot Springs project in late 2007, around the time my grandmother passed away and moved on to another project, entitled Shards of the Transient Diamond.

This project was different from The Week in Hot Springs in that Jesse would portray a young man gifted a piece of the titular diamond and be joined by an assassin sent to protect him from a crime syndicate set on retrieving the magic diamond. While minor in its influence on Jamie Klotz’s Diary, Daniel Crossman (The Man) would have played a loner figure who talks to his pet turtle Greg, who talks back, but only to him. The complete “diamond” prop and the puppet turtle purchased for this film (the script of which has long been lost) both were reused and appear in Jamie Klotz’s Diary’s treasure-hunting scene.

After stumbling around that failed project for another year, we decided to revisit the Week in Hot Springs characters in 2009, but with a micro-webseries of sketches. Numerous short scripts (and some advice given to me by a pro filmmaker taken to heart) led to the filming of videos like Kazoo Hero, MilkGump Blues, and the adapted scene from 1001 Arabian Gumps.

One of these sketches was partially filmed and would have frogfeatured Gump being turned into a frog, going through the stages of grief, trying everything he can think of to try to be turned back, including attempting to date several girls in accordance with the classic fairy tale “The Frog Prince.” He eventually learns to accept his fate, only to be rescued and returned to human form by the end. Scenes filmed include one with Matt returning as the magic Genie and one where “The Frog Gump” prays to God, who responds “If I help you out, you’re never going to learn anything. The frog puppet purchased for this sketch is reused for a gag in Jamie Klotz’s Diary wherein Kaitlyn sets her friend up on a blind date with someone with the online persona “Fr0gPrince.”

IN REFLECTION

At the time we started doing The Week in Hot Springs, I was between the ages of 17-19, roughly the same age as the young cast that I eventually worked with on Jamie Klotz’s Diary and its sequel. When the vision I had fell through, I was absolutely devastated. I did not see the value in what I had done. I left the video we had shot unedited on my hard drive and started on another big project that ended up not even going beyond a half-complete script.

One of the four remaining shots from my earliest film project ever - Indiana Jake and the Viking's Sacred Staff
One of the four remaining shots from my earliest film project ever – Indiana Jake and the Viking’s Sacred Staff

I have to confess that one of my biggest inspirations from as early as 2003 when I sat at the family computer and wrote over 100 pages of script, printing them out on the crappy little printer below the desk and eventually filmed four or five minutes of a Hi-8 video with “Indiana Jake and The Viking’s Sacred Staff” was this independent film made almost a decade earlier by a bunch of high school kids. I found it online and just went nuts. Their creativity and passion inspired something within me. If they could pull something like this off, why couldn’t I?

Every step from Indiana Jake to Gibbers to Shards of the Transient Diamond felt like a failure on a deeply personal level. I have a list that has remained with me since August 1, 2007, just before I started on Shards, on which I typed the title of every idea for a feature or short. At the time I created it, it was excruciating because I considered nearly all of them failures that never got beyond a script, some not even beyond a title and outline. The list wasn’t in any sort of chronological order, but some of them I had been thinking of for over 3 years already. The beginning of the list goes like this:

“Dukes of Fall River” (A Dukes of Hazzard Fan Film)
“Star Wars Fan Film” (I didn’t include any details on what this would have been)
“Long Black Limousine” (A short based on the Elvis song)
“Gibbers: The Movie – original” (based on the original script)
“Gibbers: The Movie – revisions” (based on a revised script)
“Gibbers: The Movie – rethought” (I once thought of scrapping the whole thing and starting over with a new script)
In search of Jamie Klutz’s Diary

The original 2007 list, which hasn’t been added to or taken away from since being created, goes on from there for another 54 ideas, including the Week in Hot Springs. I periodically looked at that list time and again for years, reminding myself of things I hadn’t done, as a sort of twisted motivator to keep trying, but never really grasping what it meant other than perhaps guilting myself into it. And every time I looked at it, I saw that title “In Search of Jamie Klutz’s Diary.”

Only a few seconds of
Only a few seconds of “Taterfied” still exist on tape.

Now, looking back, having brought that one single line to life, not once, but TWICE, I understand that every title on that list, whether they came to completion like A Day in Hot Springs, or only partway, like, say Taterfied, which was a road movie taking cues from “Red Green,” each page of script, and every second of video taught me something useful and helped me develop skills needed to succeed in some meaningful way.

The advice I was given by that filmmaker between Shards and Adventures in Hot Springs was that I ought to focus on shorts instead of features. There’s more flexibility and less risk. You can experiment without fearing the outcome. You can move on from failures quicker.

There’s a reason Jamie Klotz’s Diary means so much to me. Because that movie and its sequel represent the final trial of that advice. The incorporation of so many elements from the “failed” projects is my own private little “fuck yeah, I did this!” They’re not perfect films by any means whatsoever (I’d argue not much good at all.) But to me, they’re proof that I’m learning and developing. And every project from here on out, whether a success or failure, good or bad, is another lesson. I’d rather get better at failing than not try at all.

That film that inspired me, by the way, was Indiana Jed, by Michael & Marc Linn. Marc was the one who gave me the advice, and this past year I worked for a couple days on their upcoming film project as a PA. It wasn’t much and I am pretty sure I wasn’t impressive as a PA but it was an honor and a privilege as far as I was concerned.

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