April 8, 2024

F.I.R.S.T. Institute Alumni Release Film: THE JESTER

where you can stream "The Jester":

In the world of cinema, it’s not every day that two young filmmakers get their idea for a film green-lit. However, for Colin Krawchuk and Michael Sheffield, this is exactly what happened. After producing and releasing a myriad of short films, they finally caught the attention of Epic Pictures producers. Their cinema dreams sprouted in classrooms and germinated into a feature-length film.

Facing Down Audacious Opportunities

Colin and Michael found joy in creating short films as a way to express their artistic passion. Their filmmaking journey truly began with their YouTube channel, MakeDo Entertainment. With each short film they crafted, their skills honed, their processes streamlined, and their stories came to life. One standout creation, “The Jester,” a horror film, became a sensation with over 15 million views, spawning not just a sequel, but a trilogy. Despite their surprise cult following, Colin and Michael cherished the connection their character, The Jester, made with viewers. Their dedication led them to explore various genres in their filmmaking endeavors. One fateful day, a phone call would change everything, propelling them to turn their beloved short into a full-length feature film.

The Jester Production

The Jester Got His Call To The Big-Time

One random afternoon, Colin received a call from an anonymous individual asking about his and Michael’s interest in creating a feature film based on The Jester. Initially, Colin was hesitant, having received similar inquiries before without much follow-through. However, upon realizing he was speaking with an executive from Epic Pictures, known for Benny Loves You, Terrifier, and The Wave, Colin sensed this was the opportunity they had been waiting for.

Given two weeks to expand their 10-minute short film into a 90-minute feature, Colin and Michael faced a challenging task. Working tirelessly, they crafted a script that met Epic Pictures’ criteria while staying true to their artistic vision, refusing to compromise their work’s integrity. With a tight deadline, the duo submitted their completed script, awaiting further guidance from Epic Pictures.

The Jester Production Behind The Scenes

After a few weeks, Epic responded positively, affirming the script’s quality and assigning a production team to them. Colin was appointed as director, and Michael retained his role as the Jester.

The Pre-production Process Is No Joke

Colin and Michael had collaborated on numerous short films in the past, but this marked their first venture with a substantial budget and a larger team. Excitement mingled with nervousness as they delved into this new experience, set to unfold in Fredrick, MD, a considerable distance from their base in Orlando, FL. The challenge of orchestrating pre-production remotely loomed ahead, a circumstance not ideally suited for the intricacies of filmmaking that often demand in-person interactions and site visits.

An integral moment in the preproduction phase was when Michael had the opportunity to collaborate with renowned FX artist Jason Baker, known for his exceptional work with notable entities like Slipknot, WWE, and Lady Gaga. Noteworthy among his recent creations was the mask featured in the movie The Black Phone, worn by Ethan Hawke. This collaboration proved pivotal for the project, especially considering the initial Jester mask was a basic Halloween store item with copyright constraints. After dedicated sessions with Jason, they unveiled a final rendition that elevated the terror element and brought a fresh perspective to this menacing character.

Production and Post-production Dreams and Nightmares

With the updated script, cast, and crew ready, Colin and Michael embarked on a month-long shoot in Maryland. Filled with a mix of excitement, anxiety, and countless questions, it marked their first venture into such a large-scale production. Despite the challenges ahead, they were resolute in giving their best and confronting whatever obstacles came their way. Little did they know, they were about to embark on a thrilling journey. Much of the pre-production work was executed remotely, with Colin and Michael not physically present at the shooting locations. Some of these sites were nestled deep within the woods, requiring the crew to trek for extended periods, lugging heavy film equipment while ensuring no gear or crew member was harmed in the process.

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Facing a significant hurdle, they grappled with a tight deadline. Despite having a month to capture all the necessary footage, the pressure was on to nail it on the first try. With no room for reshoots, every second was precious. As the tension mounted and time slipped away, our dynamic Jester duo persevered, forging ahead to wrap up filming, securing every essential shot successfully.

The next challenge involved the editing process, which Colin personally undertook to ensure his vision was realized without compromising the story’s quality. While accustomed to creating short films with a 10-minute runtime, transitioning to a feature-length film demanded a 90-minute duration, as requested by the studio. Drawing on his years of experience, Colin persevered through this significant task. After submitting the film to the producer, they eagerly awaited feedback, which ultimately turned out to be positive. The producer loved the film and eagerly anticipated its release.

Unveiling the Future

With their first feature-length project in the book, Colin and Michae are charting new paths in their cinematic journey. They are venturing beyond the horror genre, exploring fresh ideas while continuing to push the boundaries with their short films. Their future plans include crafting stories that transcend genres and captivate audiences. They are beyond pleased with the fact that they got to work with a production house like Epic and realize a long-standing dream.

The Jester in Theaters

We recommend all budding filmmakers to view their feature films and subscribe to their YouTube Channel for updates on upcoming projects. If Colin and Michael’s journey inspires you, we welcome you to explore our Digital Filmmaking & Video Production program for further insights.