Filmmaking To The Max: Cleaning Up

Hi! I’m Kyla, teenage filmmaker & creator of the teen drama webseries To The Max. This column will serve both as a production diary and an ever-growing list of how I’ve found my way around every issue I’ve come across and every mistake I’ve made.

It’s that time of year again, folks-- except it only kind of is. Like, it depends on the sort of person you are. Actually, that’s too aggressive; on a conscious level it depends on when you cannot put up with mess anymore but I’m sure there’s more logic behind it on an unconscious level. Regardless, it’s that time of year again, folks: cleaning/deep-cleaning/spring–but-it’s-actually-the-end-of-summer-cleaning.

I actually don’t know if this is a season for deep-cleaning, but I’m doing it! My deep-clean includes my room, in which I have hoarded things for at least a decade (if not longer), and my bags upon bags of To The Max props and clothing. I’ve also semi-extended it to a whole different turf-- I’ve been sifting through my Google docs in search of all my old screenplays and brainstorming things. The amount of documents entitled “latest film idea” or some variation thereof is kind of concerning.

So as I dive into the muck, I invite you all to come with me! We’ll start with:

HOARDER’S ITEMS

You know that feeling when you open up a desk drawer that hasn’t been opened in at least three years and you find a fluffy pastel rainbow notebook? I’m sure you don’t, but I do. My problem while deep-cleaning is that I’ll find stuff like that and I’ll think “that’s such a cute character prop” or “that’ll be a really nice decoration” and I’ll want to keep it despite the fact that I’m not currently in pre-production for anything and I have no idea when or in what I’ll actually use a fluffy pastel rainbow notebook. Here’s what I’m doing and what you should do:

Keep everything worthwhile in a box. Warning: your definition of worthwhile may be vastly different from mine. If there’s a wooden cross necklace from a seventh grade field trip or a can of temporary blue hair dye also from the seventh grade that you think you could genuinely use in a project within the next five years, put it in a box. Be reasonable with what you’re keeping-- are you really going to use the “How To Make Safety Pin Bracelets” kit? What I’m considering if ignoring Stareable’s podcast name-- I might just put limits on the boxes in terms of numbers of boxes and sizes so I’m forced to be reasonable and keep what’s necessary. Above all else, look to the future. Do you really need all that neon paper? Wait, is it actually going to be functional for that one project you want to do over the March break? Is that project a doable thing? Consider the realities.

OLD IDEAS & SCRIPTS

That was a perfect segue, because as you sort through your old ideas and scripts my first piece of advice would be to:

  • Consider the realities. If you find something old of yours that you forgot how much you loved, don’t get all wrapped up in your head about it already. Consider: is it a genuine possibility? Is there a reason you tucked it away before? Could you make this with the resources you have?

  • Organize everything. Create a folder in Google Drive for all the docs; give everything a proper name so you know what it is beyond “new new film idea!!”. This way, everything’s in one place and cohesive and easy to find.

  • Keep the scraps. A piece of an idea from 2009 might be your saving grace for a project in 2019. I mean, it won’t be for me because I was eight and telling my diary about how I ate a bag of Doritos (a true thing I found!!!) but it may be for you! Keep every idea and see what you can piece together now or in the future.

OLD PROPS & COSTUMES

What use do I have for bags full of 80s/90s clothing? Sure, my mom’s vintage stuff is cool as hell, but the rest of it I seemingly have no use for. However, all that clothing doesn’t have to sit around in my basement forever! Here are some ideas:

  • Give clothing to your cast/crew upon request or as gifts or something. I think I stole this one from @ghettonerdgirl months ago to the best of my memory. I asked the cast & crew what clothing items they wanted (besides their own back if they’d volunteered them) because they’re working without pay so the least I can do is give them that! One of our actresses asked for the iconic sweater that her characters wears so much. It’s not because she’s going to wear it or anything; it’s just for sentimental value (which warms my cold dead heart).

  • Keep it so you can re-use it for a new season or a new project. I’m personally not doing this because I know for a fact that we cannot do a new season of To The Max during the next school year, the next summer, or the next year after that. The next time we could potentially do it would be summer 2020 and the coordination of at least seven of our fifteen original cast members would be incredibly difficult because of summer jobs and university and such. I also refuse to helm a period piece ever again because damn that was difficult; however, if a second season or a related project is in the works for you, keep it! Use it! I’m going to keep all the makeup we used because that can be re-used.

  • Sell stuff on eBay/Depop/Poshmark/Facebook/etc. This is what I’m doing with the clothing. I believe I’ll have the best luck on Depop with the authentic vintage clothing (if I can bear to part with it!) My aunt’s had good luck with selling things on Facebook as well. If anyone’s in the market for vintage clothing, let me know so I can shoot you a message when I put my listings up!


The lovely Daria Miran as Heather in the iconic Heather sweater!

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Yes! I have been organizing the things in my office as well which includes props and wardrobe. The giving clothes away tip was from What To Do When You Can't Pay Cast & Crew. Glad I could help! I too find this to be the deep cleaning season!

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