I teamed up with writer/director duo Maribeth Romslo/Cristina Pippa again to work on a wonderful short film titled Amelia.
The film follows a small girl named Eleanor stricken with polio in the 1920s — she is confined to her bedroom because of her disease, her radio the only escape from the space. She by chance happens to be one of the many radios in the world to hear Amelia Earhart’s distress calls on her final voyage.
In pre-production I worked in tandem with Romslo and Producer Matt Brown to help assemble the crew, technical scout our one location, coordinate a two day schedule and dial in all the other details of the project. Pre-production really is the key to a successful shoot and there was plenty to coordinate to make it run flawlessly.
We coordinated with our Gaffer, Mickey Richardson, to shoot powerful HMI lights into our second story windows to give the impression of warm, California daylight streaming into the room for the duration of our shoot. Well, it was anything but warm daylight outside the comfort of the room. It was -26º one morning (seriously) — our poor lighting crew.
During the production, my job was to be the captain of the ship. The Assistant Director is the lead of the crew and the manager of the set — the Director is in charge of the creative vision — the AD is the Director’s right hand man and in charge of making all the pieces fall into place.
With Maribeth acting as both Director and Cinematographer, she was focused on those two very important roles. With her operating the camera, I spent most of my time in video village (a big monitor of what the camera is seeing) working with Maribeth on frame composition, suggesting changes in actor blocking and delivery, as well as watching for crisp focus on hands and faces within the frame.
All this while keeping in mind what was next and keeping the crew informed throughout. Communication and delegation are key to being successful.
This production was a lot of work and two very long, bitterly cold shoot days, but in the end we captured a powerful story. Our young talent had to carry the story essentially on her own and she knocked it out of the park.
A trailer for the short film can be seen below.
UPDATE: Our short film was chosen to be a part of the Toronto International Film Festival — it was shown there March 2018.
Photos by: Tanner Morris Photography