written and directed by JULIAN ALVAREZ
Techno Scrap follows M0, a mute robotic farmhand who develops an obsession with physical connection after receiving a hug from his owner's daughter.
Filmmaker First Grant
Spring semester sophomore year, this was my first thesis film production. Kara Bartek took me under her wing again (we had previously teamed up on Oh Yeah) to co-produce this eerie AI drama on an AirBnb farm in northern Connecticut.
This was a 6-day shoot, bookended by 2 travel days. We were immediately struck by unexpected challenges. Firstly, our DP broke his leg the day before checkouts. Then, on the morning of our first shoot day, we awoke to a foot of snow. The ACs had to compensate for the DP’s lack of mobility, and we had to be extra aware of the icy surfaces, stalling his next hospital visit to the best of our ability.
It was extremely cold in the barn that we shot much of the film in. This affected the crew’s efficiency. G&E had to account for the electrical challenges of working in snow. The cold caused our prop glass to fail. We quickly fell behind schedule. By day 4, we were looking at a compromise that involved cramming an entire day and a half into our final shoot day.
These schedule compromises culminated in the core braintrust - the director, the producers, the A.D., the sound mixer, and the director’s roommate - working through lunch on day 6 to prep the final exterior scene. Pure grit and a will to beat the sunset drove us to spend our 30 minute break digging a grave in the frozen ground while everyone else was inside eating fish and chips.
Scheduling was undoubtedly the biggest challenge on this project. NYU requires 1 break day for shoots longer than 6 days, and we couldn’t afford to stretch the budget any thinner, and we couldn’t ask the unpaid student crew to scrap it in close quarters for longer than 6 days. We had to make the film in 6 days. I learned to trust the A.D.’s scheduling calls.
My biggest takeaways from this project were practical weather-proofing knowledge, familiarity with the budget needs of a travel shoot, and the importance of keeping your crew comfortable. I also became very confident in asking businesses for discounts and donations. Most of our meals were discounted. We’ll have a lot of special thanks to put in the end credits.
& AMAREE CHARLTON
& KARA BARTEK
director of photography
1st assistant director