Twin filmmakers uncover a conspiracy

It’s 3 a.m. by the time the film crew finishes adjusting lighting in a Seattle parking garage, and the cameras finally roll.

The actors advance, plastic guns in hand.

Suddenly, the garage elevator doors open and out pedal police on bikes, brandishing the real article.

That’s not part of the script, someone says.

“Drop your weapons!” police yell – and for a heart-stopping moment an actor is too frozen with fear to comply.

Co-directors Clint and Calvin Brandel Sachs, the 18-year-old twins and writer/directors of the new film “Askew,” say they weren’t surprised police showed an interest in the project, slated to be screened Friday at Bainbridge Cinemas.

The twins admit that they didn’t always work through channels.

“We were a guerrilla film crew,” Calvin said. “We lasted six hours in Kitsap Mall by taking evasive action before they kicked us out, and four and a half hours in Pacific Place.”

The crew also crossed paths with police in the Grand Forest while filming on Bainbridge Island last spring.

Despite the Brandel Sachs twins’ end-run around the authorities, the year-long production was carefully planned and professionally executed.

Clint and Calvin came to filming their first movie with the great advantage of insider knowledge.

The twins’ mother, Suzy Sachs, is herself a director/producer, running Sachs Films, Inc., and the boys had acted professionally for years.

The concept for “Askew” was conceived a year ago, over dinner at Island Grill.

“It was both our idea,” Clint said. “We were talking about films and a friend joined us. He had made a small FBI conspiracy film, and we brainstormed with him.”

Clint and Calvin wrote the script together in several weeks and spent two months editing.

The twins were already familiar with screenwriting through online extension courses by the University of California at Los Angeles.

Both have been working toward a certificate in screenwriting offered by completing the extension classes.

Their interest in writing was piqued, the twins say, when Calvin’s screenplay won a prize at Seattle International Film Festival in 1998.

Calvin and Clint also travel to Olympic College for classes that they view as another sort of collaborative venture.

“With both of us taking the same classes,” Clint jokes, “if one of us happens not to feel up to it...”

In fact, with part-time jobs factored into already-busy lives, there’s little time for slacking off.

The Brandel Sachs’ film project has been a collaboration with Contract Studies, the Bainbridge school district alternative program for high school-age students that is “home base” for the twins’ schooling.

Teacher and project advisor Marit Krueger helped Calvin and Clint develop a blueprint for the project last September with advice from knowledgeable community members Krueger consulted. Krueger then met with the twins weekly to make sure the project stayed on track.

Last spring, Calvin and Clint advertised for actors, sorting through “head shots” and interviewing likely prospects.

By the time filming began during spring break, the twins had assembled as cast of 13 and a crew of 20.

A friend in the industry, who was first assistant director on the film “Jerry Maguire,” flew from California to help.

“He helped with all the personalities, with their getting along,” Clint said.

Despite collaborating on the script, the twins say their approaches are distinct.

“We do not think as one,” Calvin said. “We have two different points of view and that makes it a better project.”

Clint leans towards directing, he says, while Calvin, who claims that his real strength may lie in writing, takes a more inclusive looks at production.

Both admit to being a little nervous about the screening, but they anticipate different reactions after the fact.

“I’ll say, ‘It’s done – I did that,’” Clint said.

Calvin says he will probably continue to dissect the film long after the screening.

Whatever response the film receives, both say they will make more movies.

* * * * *

“Askew,” an “FBI conspiracy film” written and directed by Clint and Calvin Brandel Sachs will debut 5:45 p.m. Nov. 9 at Bainbridge Cinemas. The screening is free.

The film features some Bainbridge Island cast, including Mark Bullard, James Lee, Larry Sears, Jr. and Sabine Sachs.

“Askew” was produced in partnership with the Bainbridge Island School District’s Contract Studies program, and mentored by Sachs Films, Inc.

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