One-Minute Time Machine - The Short Film that (probably) helped Rick & Morty win an Emmy
A short film by Devon Avery and how it came to be:
Early in 2012 while working on the CBS TV series NCIS, I approached actor Brian Dietzen about a short film I had written about a One-Minute Time Machine.
Brian recommended TV writer Sean Crouch take a look at the script, and he made some big changes and vastly improved on my early attempts at being a screenwriter.
The screenplay was now funny enough that the insanely talented comedic actress Erinn Hayes agreed to join the project. The next challenge was finding an available location to shoot the film on a date both actors were available. This took several months.
Finally, on Sunday November 5th 2012, an extremely talented film crew led by cinematographer Christos Bitsakos helped me shoot this film in 8 hours.
I then spent 13 months editing the film into something that it deserved to be. The initial edit only took a few days, but there was something not right. It was funny but nothing special. I revisited the edit every few weeks, trying to look at it with fresh eyes. Eventually, in December 2013, editing on my laptop on a flight to New York, I tried removing a really funny reaction from Brian. It was probably my favourite joke in the whole film, but once it was removed, everything worked better. All of the comedy beats had a more natural rhythm. It just worked. I then tightened the edit even further, down to individual single frames.
During that year, I also worked with Jamie Harper on the score. Jamie had composed a beautiful score for my award-winning short film "Practice Makes Perfect". The two of us communicate really well, but halfway through this film, we hit a road block. I was in Los Angeles and Jamie in London, so I jumped on a plane, and after few hours in a London pub, we were on the same wavelength again and the music was completed a few days later.
Another problem I experienced was sound design. The location we filmed at in Burbank was close to the 5 Interstate Freeway. This meant that the pronounced background traffic noise was drastically different cutting back and forth between each actor. When a loud roar from a semi-truck driving past when Regina asks a question, is abruptly replaced by a whiny Moped when James answers, the edit will never work. I had no money to pay anyone to fix this, so I spent three months learning and using sound design software so I could remove the sound frequencies of traffic noise from beneath the actor's dialogue without affecting their voices. It was by far the most challenging process in the making of this film.
In Spring 2014, the film finally received its world premiere at the Vail Film Festival in Colorado. The film played at film festivals across the world, winning numerous awards before I decided to submit the film to the Sploid Short Film Festival on YouTube in 2015. Within the first 24 hours, One-Minute Time Machine had received 1 million views. Then 2 million in its first week. Numerous film studios and production companies in Hollywood reached out to me, which was extremely flattering, but at that time I had no follow up to offer them.
Over the following years, the film was remade in several languages and copied by many filmmakers. Even Rick and Morty's Emmy winning "Vat of Acid" episode appears heavily influenced by this short film.
One-Minute Time Machine is taught at film schools all over the world, including the USA, the UK, Sweden, India, South Korea, Iran, New Zealand and Germany. When Sploid closed their channel at the start of 2023 One-Minute Time Machine had been viewed 12.7 million times. An Italian-subtitled version on Facebook had 15 million views in just six months.
Some behind-the-scenes photos from the film shoot can be viewed here:
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