I shot a short film in February called “A Boy’s Life.” I was asked to write up a behind-the-scenes viewpoint of the whole experience. Here it is.
A lot of BTS stuff is basically just talking about how great the crew was/film will be, so I’ll get that out immediately: the crew rocked, and the film will be awesome. These are givens. Now onto the nuts and bolts:
Murphy’s Law was in full effect at the outset. Prep was extensive for such a simple show. On paper, it’s two people in one location — a house. After I met Eli, we had months to take care of planning as we wrapped up our work elsewhere. We talked tone, story, character — giving me a firm grasp of just what was going on behind the action, not just “where to put the camera.” Long in advance, we worked storyboards of every shot, which we followed nearly to the letter.
We actually stopped our location scouting after the first house. The one we found was perfect in most ways, except that the boy’s bedroom was a bit small. Beyond that, it was ideal. Jackpot!
Then some problems cropped up: the character of Max, being so young, can only legally work for so many hours of the day, and only certain hours (not too late). For a movie that takes place half at night (and my desires to light from outside the window), this is a serious concern. Then, the location did not want us to be in the house very late (out by 11pm). All of this happened in the face of a pretty significant budget cut and re-crewing as well. Production dug their way out of it, though, with some careful scheduling and budgeting, and we rolled on.
Our first day saw a surprising bout of catastrophe. Our power runs ended up not working out, so we had to power our lights off the house (which meant we had to use smaller lights — not ideal). Then an essential lens arrived busted. Then a schedule conflict. And a half dozen other things. We worked around it, but I can’t tell you we made our day — but we weren’t really worried. Like every set, it’s growing pains, and we were prepared. The next three days blazed by.
Working with Eli can be described as serene. We were on exactly the same page. He knew that I knew what he wanted. Instead of hanging over me during set, he was working with the actor — the most important thing. We had packed our lunchbox up tight with the storyboards/shot list, as well as some lighting research and tone pieces, so the shots were ready to go between us, and we simply had to execute them.
Also, I have to give credit to the talent — Chrystie was a consummate professional, and Griffin, at 10 years old, knew just what to do and delivered a stellar performance around my technical meddling.
Coloring and watching it on the big screen at Raleigh Studios, I can say it’s some of my finest work, and something I think will take Eli and the rest of the crew very far.