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Twelve by 12

A dozen local filmmakers weave a musical, a serial-killer parody, and 10 other short movies into a cinematic patchwork quilt
By CAITLIN E. CURRAN  |  December 7, 2007


VIDEO: The trailer for Twelve

It’s before noon on a Saturday and I’m at the Glass Slipper, the 22-year-old strip-club fixture in Chinatown, sitting on a step in an upstairs Champagne room, where patrons can purchase a half-hour-long private dance (usually accompanied by an overpriced bottle of bubbly). Behind a gleaming brass pole atop a wooden stage, a man lazily squirts window cleaner onto a large mirrored wall, wiping over it with a paper towel. Three women lounge at the otherwise empty bar, smoking and idling over newspaper crossword puzzles. The room is silent until Megan Summers, 32, a petite woman with brown curls, yells “Cut!” and a crew springs to life from booths lining the room — adjusting equipment, applying extra make-up, and shifting camera angles. “You guys should be, like, bitchy,” she instructs the actresses at the bar.

Summers is directing a 10-minute film short (she wrote the script, too), and is attempting to finish shooting over the course of a whirlwind weekend. Her movie is one of 12 that’ll be woven together — in the big-screen equivalent of a patchwork quilt — into a multifarious, feature-length motion picture called Twelve. Scott Masterson, a Salem-based independent filmmaker, dreamed up the project this past winter, drawing inspiration from an indie artist of a different discipline. “Sufjan Stevens is trying to record 50 albums, one for each state,” notes Masterson. “And that sort of gave me my idea: do one film for each month.”

To help execute his calendar-guided endeavor, Masterson recruited 11 other individuals from Boston’s film community, assigned each person a month of 2007, and gave them only one rule: each 10-minute chunk of this eventual 120-minute film must feature a shot of a chosen tree — on which Summers has carved the name “Kilroy,” a “we were here” symbol from the crew — in the Fens, right behind the Museum of Fine Arts. The final cut of Twelve will move chronologically through the year, with the tree serving as a barometer of the seasons passing. (Masterson hopes to screen the film locally sometime next spring and, after that, enter it in as many film festivals as the group can afford.)

Gone, baby, gone
Every month, the Twelve crew meets once to brainstorm and plan for upcoming shoots, then again to actually film that month’s segment. The weekend of Summers’s shoot is in October, though her assigned month was July. Summers originally filmed her portion on schedule, but then disaster struck and, in a nightmarish set of circumstances not unlike a computer suddenly and inexplicably erasing a paper the morning it’s due, the master copy of the film went missing during a moving mix-up. Now, Summers is redoing everything, with a sense of déjà vu and a vague goal to make it look like July — a task made harder by the fact that, on the gray Saturday they shot their tree scene in the Fens, the cast and crew were surrounded by an array of crunchy orange and yellow leaves.

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