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At First Sight

1998, 4min. (B&W/Super-8mm)


Jessica Miller, Jameson Simmons


In a rainy city, a young man runs for cover from the downpour. As he waits, huddled under an overhang, he sees a beautiful young woman walk by. Their eyes lock. And in an instant they share a fantasy:

They are in a hotel room together. She dresses in a fluffy white robe and towels her hair dry. She takes a seat on the bed next to the young man, who is also wearing a robe. They exchange a little kiss on the lips and lay down. She whispers something into his ear as she plays with his hair and they giggle together. They kiss some more and roll around on the bed, holding each other. As the fantasy escalates, he kisses her neck and she removes her robe. She leans forward and they kiss passionately as the fantasy fades...

Influenced by the spark of romance they have shared, the young man runs after the girl. He catches up with her and takes her hand. They talk a little and walk off into the distance together, in love in the rain.

Production Notes

At First Sight was inspired by a dream I had. The idea was to tell the story of love at first sight, by finding a way to depict the spark that two people share when they fall in love at first sight. I decided to manifest that spark in a fantasy of a romantic encounter that both lovers share simultaneously. Once I had made that decision, I thought the film would also be an excellent opportunity to film a love scene in a new way. Instead of showing gratuitous nudity and dry-humping, I thought it would be nice to build a love scene out of tiny, romantic moments - the nibble of an earlobe, the fingers running through the hair - that combine to make an intimate encounter really special.

As soon as I knew that this idea was going to be my next film, I went to the Cinema Library on campus and sat down with as many of America's most successful romance movies as I could to draw inspiration (elements that worked as well as those that could be improved upon), and took careful notes.

It was still early in the 290 semester, which meant that production was allowed three weeks, from concept to final screening. I had to hurry, which meant no time to cast extras or scout locations. Fortunately for me, my good friend Jessica was planning to visit on a weekend during which I would be in production on the film, and she believed in the project and agreed to play the female role. I put together some storyboards and emailed them to her. (To make it easier for her, I decided to play the male role, assuming that someone familiar would be easier to act with.) When she came to town, we decided we would film in her hotel room.

It rained that weekend, which meant we couldn't shoot the "reality" segment of the film at the beach as I had initially planned. This worked out in our favor however, because the rain was much more romantic. The professors and other students would refer to filming in the rain as "a bold move," but really there was no other choice. After returning from the exterior location (one $30 parking ticket further into our escalating budget), we set to work on the "fantasy" part of the story. Because I had decided to perform in the film, my friend and longtime collaborator Joe Mulder very graciously agreed to run the camera for this segment.

As it turns out, the production was fraught with difficulty. Most of the intimate shots that were intended to build romance came back from the lab out of focus. (I was soon to learn that three things which contribute to narrow depth of focus are low light, slow film stock and close angles. We shot with all three.) The result was that the sequence seemed more like what I was trying to avoid than what I was trying to create. Also, exposure problems destroyed the shots of the girl experiencing the fantasy, so it seemed as if the male character (me) was just a pervert fantasizing about a girl. (So far, I was 0 for 2 on the key themes of the film!) And of course, my performance was distracted at best, as I was attempting to produce, direct, and star all at once. (I don't know how Woody Allen does it, but it may or may not have to do with the fact that he keeps his clothes on!)