The Standard (v.15)

Fifteen minutes. In the whole scheme of life, it isn’t much. It’s enough time to take a stroll, talk on the phone or take a break from work. Fifteen minutes could be the shortest wait at the doctor’s office, or the most drawn out moment for a kid with stage fright.

In the world of film, fifteen minutes is a microcosm, a speck — the opening credits. For one film crew, five days of work this week at South Whidbey High school — or Whidbey High, as it will be known on film — must turn into fifteen minutes of raw emotion, edited with precision.

“In 15 minutes, we have to cram as much in as possible,” said Jordan Albertsen, the director of “The Standard v.15.”

“At this point it’s not so much about storytelling, but about emotion and feeling,” he said.

“The Standard v.15 is an abridged, 15-minute version of a feature film Albertsen and Los Angeles-based Oracle Films hope to film on South Whidbey next summer. Both the feature “The Standard” and “The Standard v.15” are written and will be directed by Albertsen, a 2001 South Whidbey High School graduate.

The Oracle Films Web site describes the feature “The Standard” as, “A character driven drama about nine disaffected, angst-ridden, and yet hopeful youths trying to make it through a day in the life of a student at Whidbey High. There’s is a modern-day fight against depression and the pressures involved in being an adolescent in the twentieth century.”

Albertsen has described the film as a “character study through the period of a school day.”

This week, the cast and crew crept onto the set between 6:30 and 7 a.m. each day, with shooting in full swing by 9 a.m. and running to at least 7 p.m. each night. Classrooms were converted to wardrobe and makeup. Hallways turned into headquarters for lighting and camera equipment. The school’s courtyard was a holding area for extras. Locker rooms became scene locations. The camera crew jokingly talked of loving the smell of film emulsion in the morning.

On Thursday afternoon, first assistant director Jason Brown was rounding up the troops.

“OK everybody, on your ones now,” he said.

As Albertsen’s right-hand man, it was Brown’s job to be lead traffic controller over the cast, crew and dozens of extras. This week, the Cincinnati native had his hands full when at various points during the shoot filming was halted due to delayed actors, falling light reflectors, outside noise, and fire alarms.

But with the bark of “Action!” from Albertsen, the film was rolling again.

That afternoon, a smoke machine created a haze in the school’s commons area as actor Nathan Vetterlein walked to his mark. Everything had to be precise, as the crew is filming the violence of the movie’s storyline — a school shooting in the school’s commons area shortly after the final bell of the day.

The concept was initially inked by Albertsen as a high school freshman. It was brought to life this week by a film crew of including cinematographer Jeff Barklage, sound mixer Kirk Francis and special effects artist Bob Riggs, along with a support crew of volunteers. All of it was helmed by a young man who, at the age of 21, has already directed two other short films, “Spoonaur” and “Faded.”

Albertsen — often surrounded by a few crew members, family members and friends — watched the filming from a distant a video monitor that gives a camera’s eye view.

His mother, Barbara, wasn’t surprised that her son was at the helm of a film this week.

“He knew what he was going to do when he was a kid and pretty soon we all knew,” Albertsen said.

It could have been her son’s nack for making flipcard movies and craving to absorb any any all knowledge of films that was the hint for things to come.

From his first film through the current “The Standard v.15,” Albertsen has been sending DVDs back to his former photography instructor, Don Wodjenski.

“His work is structured along formalist lines, but without formalist pretensions he takes an informal direction a classic composition,” Wodjenski said this week. “He has a great eye for direction, whether it be comedy in ‘Spoonaur’ or drama in ‘Faded’.”

Walking around the set, Albertsen was a ball of mixed intensities. On average, his conversations and mannerisms were as laid back as the shaggy blonde hair that peeks out from his baseball cap. But when someone brought to his attention a detail in question, his jaw and gaze tightened. But just as quick, he flipped back to his normal, intensely laidback self.

He was all smiles after the first gun shot on set.

“Everyone all right in here,” he questioned, laughing.

Movie making gives Albertsen obvious kicks.

But this week, the young filmmaker in Albertsen shined through with amazement to be directing some of the same film industry vets who helped get him into the business — Ray Brown, Kirk Francis, Clay Penney and Bob Riggs.

“I can’t tank them enough for all they’ve done,” Albertsen said.

“Every single person on this set is a key part of this movie, and he appreciates all of them,” said Sommer Albertsen, older sister to the director and also cast extra for the week.

When talking about current age demographics on movie sets today, cinematographer Jeff Barklage couldn’t help but laugh this week at Albertsen’s age.

“I have a son his age,” said Barklage, a vet of film and commercial work since 1983. “But with Jordan, he knows what he wants and he goes after it.”

Filming wrapped Friday on “The Standard v.15.” Oracle Films plans to shop around the abridged version to find financial supporters for the full-feature. When they return next summer, the Oracle Films crew will shoot for 24 days on Whidbey, at the high school and other locations around the island. The feature film is expected to have a budget of $1.5 million.

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