I’ve always pushed myself with personal projects to keep my creative energy going. What started as a song, then a short film, and now an interactive experience, ended up becoming my most comprehensive project yet.
It all started with a brief hiatus from filmmaking, where I recorded an album under the name “Could Ever”. The project gave me a bunch of music to inspire future films.
One of those songs was a personal story, and I felt compelled to tell it visually.
The vision for the film really started in storyboards. I made it a point to draw every single shot out, and use that opportunity to craft a story using visual aesthetic techniques to guide the viewer’s experience.
This not only let me flesh out a coherent story, but also refine the visual with each revision. The techniques are subtle, but subconsciously guide the viewer’s emotional response to the story.
For example, up until the climax of the story, all movement on screen moves right-to-left. This leaves the viewer with a natural sense of regression. After the film’s pivotal moment, the screen direction shifts back to left-to-right.
Casting was vitally important. I wanted to find a diverse couple that could naturally create a bold visual contrast. Once I found talent, I was able to revisit the storyboards once again to craft even greater polarity.
I spent a lot of the pre-production process sharing my vision with the cast. Getting them on board and passionate about sharing this story was paramount to the film’s success. I knew production would put us all in some adverse conditions, so I had to ensure the cast was dedicated enough to collaborate and give great performances.
The shoot itself brought back the purity of why I love filmmaking. It was incredibly physically demanding - and not just from operating the steadicam. We endured sweltering heat, massive storms, and filming in an abandoned farmhouse with minimal space and a year’s worth of wasps.
Logistics played a huge role in this. My timeline was tight, so I had to budget my schedule to balance location and prop availability with time of day. I rolled all this together with the shot list to create the scariest scheduling document of all time. However, taking the time to plan every aspect of the schedule (and syncing it to my Fitbit alarms) alleviated a lot of stress on set, and let me focus on the creative.
Color was essential to really bring the film to life. My vision from the start was to create a dark, desaturated and high contrast look - pretty much the opposite of how I normally grade. There’s always the temptation to take advantage of high dynamic range footage, revealing every possible detail. I forced myself to focus on the story, repeatedly reducing visible elements in the shot.
Sometimes only a sliver of light would be left, but it was exactly that simplicity that created a powerful moment.
The final step was creating a mobile-first interactive experience that would give the film a whole new side to explore. I had seen a few interactive films - all with great visual effects. I wanted to explore a new kind of interaction using audio.
I started by creating a new version of the song, one that evoked more of a soft, nostalgic vibe. I worked with a small group of talented developers to create an experience where the user could seamlessly blend between the two versions, uncovering a new side to the story.