MILLBURN, NJ - Millburn Middle School’s Daniel Lee, an eighth grader, has a message for all of the Millburn students who tend to put off important assignments for the last minute.
“Do not procrastinate” Lee said.
Although parents and teachers might struggle to impart this advice to their students, Lee is having an easier time bending the ears of his peers with his latest satiric film Procrastination.
The film, which is one of only nine selected for the 2018 Film Festival, begins with a frightening, yet relatable realization: your essay is due tomorrow and you have not started yet. The audience then follows Daniel (who acted in his own film) in his delayed adventure to finish his paper. He is immediately thrown off course and struggles to put words on paper. The audience sees Daniel play with toys, fool around with instruments, and ultimately run in mental circles.
The struggle on the screen mirrored his creative process. Lee actually had envisioned a much different project than what he ultimately produced. However, due to complications within his perspective group members and his ironic procrastination, Lee was only able to put an unscripted shell of his vision on the screen.
“I’m actually really surprised it was accepted” Lee said. “I’m not really that satisfied with my work. I felt that if I was going to try I should do my best. I kind of just rushed myself too much, and I learned a lot. I have to give myself more time.”
An insufficient amount of planning left Lee scavenging for footage to meet the two-minute minimum for the Millburn Film Fest. In order to submit the film, Lee was forced to reuse footage in multiple frames. He estimates only about 60-90 seconds of original video in Procrastination. Using Adobe Premiere, though, the young filmmaker was able to keep the audience captivated even during repetition.
To his surprise, the student body and the Millburn Film Fest judges thought it was hilarious.
A noticeable feature of Lee’s comedic commentary is the lack of dialogue. Although the audience hears the crescendo of Wolf Hoffman’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King”, we never hear from Daniel himself during the struggle.
Although Lee admits that a major factor in his decision to produce a film with no dialogue was the quality microphone he had access to, he also believes in the power of visual comedy.
This is Lee’s first entry into any film festival. He is no stranger to filmmaking though. Lee received an iPad in 3rd grade and immediately began experimenting with iMovie.
“If I never got that iPad and never opened up iMovie this probably never would have happened.”
The first screening of Procrastination will be at the Millburn Film Festival on Friday night. Lee’s work may also be viewed at the Millburn Bow Tie Cinema on Thursday, April 26 for the encore presentation.