Full of neuroses about untimely ends and brimming with well crafted deadpan humour, Zach Wechter’s This Table is an elegantly nested story which whips along at an impressively frenetic pace, barely pausing for comedic breath. Zach tells DN how freedom from high expectations and his 10-year friendship with writing partner Jack Seidman opened the door to this delightfully tall tale.
This Table is an obsessive-compulsive short film starring my best friend and writing partner Jack Seidman. His anxiety about death – and the way it’s affected us both – inspired the project. My intimate knowledge of his OCD gave me the confidence to know I could realize his script the right way.
We were deep into rewrites on a feature screenplay when Jack showed me the script, and we couldn’t stop laughing about it. At the time, I wasn’t planning on making a short, but doing something just for fun without having to worry about the stakes and pressures of our other ‘professional’ work was exciting to me, so I decided to shoot it.
The other shorts I’ve done have embraced traditional genre in certain ways, so with This Table, I wanted to leave my narrative roots in the dust and challenge myself to attempt a totally different, almost anti-narrative kind of project. I loved the deep irony and rhythm of the story and was inspired to try and capture the real emotional experience of its character with heightened movie style. I’m also a real Grand Budapest fan and was interested in the story-within-a-story framework.
I believed this short film could be a testament to the psychological experience of obsessiveness, and I set out to do that with the visual style, and the performance style of the actors. Repetitive cuts would replicate the cyclic thought patterns of a neurotic mind, and I surrounded Jack’s high-strung performance with laid-back, relaxed actors. Jack and I were able to bring the shorthand we’ve developed in both our writing and friendship to the set, which allowed us to get through his scenes quickly and still get lots of variety in our takes. This really helped in making our jam-packed days.
I believed this short film could be a testament to the psychological experience of obsessiveness.
We shot on an Alexa with Super Speeds over three days in the greater Los Angeles area; mostly near my neighborhood in Northeast LA and the suburb where I grew up, Oak Park. We had a small, but extremely talented and dedicated crew who got down and dirty with us to make this production happen. Producer Rich Salamone, my dear friend, and long-time collaborator worked magic putting everything together with limited means. Rich and I have always clicked creatively, and he believed in the script’s weirdness enough to find ways to bring even its briefest and most offbeat moments to life.
The scene in which Jack visits his grandmother’s tomb was shot at my actual late grandmother’s burial site. Sneaking into a cemetery and being in her presence definitely helped heighten the mood of the scene – at least it did for me.
This Table was edited in Adobe Premiere and in post, Andres Jaramillo was our 1-man VFX wizard who took Jack’s head clean off his body, and brought the world of the forest to the streets of Highland Park with his skilled comps. The camera movement made some of those forest shots difficult, but we decided it would help motivate the Lumberjack’s reappearance to have the tree line and the coffee shop physically connected, and he was able to pull it off.
More than anything, this movie was an attempt at catharsis for the time I’ve spent living surrounded by Jack’s neuroses, and I hope viewers are entertained by the result of our 10+ years of friendship!