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Steven Hacker has been making films practically his whole life. While his passion for cinematography has taken many forms over the years, from television news to award-winning documentaries, he just finished his foray into long-form fictional drama. “On a Technicality” is a short film about five guys who make an outlandish bet that winds up putting life and friendship in focus. It shows at 9:20 p.m. on Wednesday as part of the Cleveland International Film Festival’s Ohio Shorts Program. The screening takes place at Tower City Cinemas.
“On a Technicality” was inspired by a story that actor/co-producer Jeff Grover had heard from some Corky & Lenny regulars. “The story Jeff told me [about these deli regulars] became the foundation of our film,” says Hacker. “Of course, we take a big, big left turn at the fork in the road that’s not based in reality.”
The film also deviated from real-life when it was shot at another well-known eastside Cleveland eatery, Jack’s Deli. “We shot into the wee hours of the morning and locked up as we left,” explains Hacker. “One night, we actually were leaving just as the bagels were being dropped off for morning delivery.” Although the filmmakers had to make these nighttime shots appear like daylight, Hacker thinks being on location was good for the actors and enhanced the finished product. “We did this all in almost real-time. We might do five takes to find one good one. We had to do this all on a fairly brisk timeline. It was expedient.”
After fleshing out the concept for the film, the whole project took place at a fairly brisk pace with rehearsals starting last June and the editing process wrapping up in late-January. Hacker credits a very talented cast and crew, along with director Andrew Gorell, for making it all possible. “It wasn’t just, ‘Roll cameras!’” says Hacker. “[Gorell] brought the best out of the actors in a very emotional piece of work.” He also contributed to a tight final edit. “Andrew, Jeff and I did the edit together and it was a lot of give and take. Less is more and we had to keep honing it until we couldn’t take out any more.”