One, his passion to do this film thing was evident when I saw him following RiM not once, not twice, but three times in two months.
I've been doing a version of this artsy Black Man thing for 18 years and focused on film exclusively in some fashion for the last 10 plus. Do this long enough and you'll come to understand that only about half the folks you meet who want to be filmmakers you'll see at least one more time within a year. Within two years, that number risesto about 80 to 90 percent.
It's not that folks are lazy, even though that can play a part, it's that this can be hardwork and be you a poet or a painter or a filmmaker, finding your ins takes time. And, for most artists, unless they shoot out the gate working, their day job is a time-suck. If they want to get that last page written, if they want to not lose their 12:05am spot so they can read their latest piece on stage, something's got to give. So sleeping eight hours drops to six, then five, then four, and eating three times a day becomes snacking whenever and wherever.
So seeing McHie that often in a such a short period made him instantly memorable.
However, the real reason I remember McHie is because of what he did in his RiM short that year. Of the one million and one pieces of advice we festival folks can give to most indie filmmakers, avoid directing kids is probably in the top twenty. Even when the writing, tech and directing are excellent, if a director doesn't have deft hand with actors under 12, even a so-so kid performance can derail the best of efforts.
McHie not only directed several kids, a few of them his own, he made a short that only featured kids. In a short film contest in which he had 50 hours to write, direct and edit the entire project. Oh, and did I mention it was an apocalyptic tale about a world in which all the parents have suddenly disappeared?
I'm not going to sit here and tell you the entire short is brilliant--dude, it's me...I'm a nitpicky bastard, and I ain't mellowing with age--however, I can tell you the first two or three minutes thrilled me and put McHie on my personal watch list. Naturalistic as hell, from the free floating camera work, to the "they're so good can you call it acting" performances of the kids, McHie totally sells the idea that we're in an alternate world.
The making of a good director is when they can take an inherently melodramatic idea beyond plausible and to make it feel tangible. The obvious direction would be to punctuate the opening frames with "holy shit the world has gone to hell." Yet, McHie instead chose to remind us that, in a world without adults, kids are going to be kids first. As a result, a shot of a young girl struggling to pour milk from a carton that's almost as big as her for her sister, is at first cute and touching. Then as one realizes what's happened, it takes on a horrifying subtext.
As with Crystle "Clear" Roberson, who I posted about earlier this week, McHie has started building up a name for himself in the ATL film community. And like Roberson he's got a project he's crowdfunding, Passive Fist, which will feature one of Atlanta's most ass-kickingest actors, Kely McClung of Blood Ties.
You can check out the pitch video for Passive Fist below and its crowdfunding page at Indiegogo.
Got to say, I'm loving the creativity and energy ATL filmmakers are demonstrating in their campaigns. I'm hoping they'll lead to more cinematic moments that will remain stuck in my brain for years to come.