31 Jan I Will Tell My Son Process
I Will Tell My Son is a short film telling the story of a new father and the tales he will pass down to his son. The concept for this story was created by Marty Brodsky, a close friend, a talented writer and a true artist, in every sense of the word. Marty and I had discussed working on a short film together a handful of times, but nothing had ever surfaced from it. Over the summer of 2017 on a climbing trip to Wyoming, he presented the rough idea for this short while holding his newborn son, Ethan and I instantly fell in love with the idea.
Marty later sent me the narrative, which we revised back and forth a handful of times to make sure we could pair imagery with every shot. Once we felt we had a solid grasp on the story, we started outlining the shots that would line up with the narrative, discussing who would be the talent and determining locations. After bouncing idea after idea to each other, we came to the conclusion that Marty should represent himself and that we would keep it close to home. We actually shot all of this within 15 minutes of where I live in Boulder, Colorado.
Shooting consisted of three half day sessions. We knew the first half of the film would be taking place in the very early hours of the morning and the idea of bringing a full lighting set up into the canyon with a crew of two wasn’t really feasible. With a bit of scouting, we found a spot that was covered in shade the second half of the day. It was decided we would shoot there once the shadows poured over in the early afternoon. We shot the majority of this on a small steadicam and a lightweight tripod with a Sony A7RII and used a small LED panel for a few shots. For this section of the film, I heavily relied on color grading to give the feeling of pre-dawn, even though we were shooting in the middle of the day. Crushing the blacks and adding blue tones throughout this sequence provided the feeling we were looking for.
The second day of shooting was the following morning in the same canyon, but on the south facing side, where we could use the light from sunrise. These shots were to take place in the early hours of the morning and we were lucky enough to get hit with a fantastic, stark-red sunrise. This ended up shaping what the imagery for this sequence would be, using the beautiful colors from the sky to build the coloring for the rest of this sequence. We used one rock feature for these shots and getting engaging angles proved to be a challenge.
The last day of shooting was just picking up some fill in shots to start. I went out and shot a couple time lapses to introduce the locations as well as a a few scenes that were black in the timeline. After this, I made my way to Marty’s to get the closing scene. We shot this in Marty’s backyard with a gel’d LED panel filling in the flickering light from the fire. We didn’t have a ton of time with Marty’s son, Ethan, due to the cold weather and late hour. We ran through a few of them and I was pretty happy with how some of them came out. The one we ended up using is very flawed in terms of camera work. I shook the steadicam pretty noticeably while panning and the focus on Ethan was in and out, due to shooting at f1.7 without an additional monitor. I originally wanted to reshoot, but there was something about the look in Ethan’s eyes and his movement when the shot opens up that I knew we wouldn’t be able to replicate. The shots grew on me and despite being flawed, they’re some of my favorite images in the piece now. Sometimes that’s just how video production goes.
After bringing Marty’s voiceover and all the footage together into a more concise timeline, it was realized that the change from pre dawn to post dawn was too harsh. We contacted Benton Inscoe, who is experienced in time-lapse work, to provide us with a time-lapse for that as well as the closing sequence. These shots helped tie the feeling of it being one day together without it being overbearing on the viewer.
The final sequence was one that was interesting to work with. I tried a few different methods to blend the closing shots together and nothing seemed to be working quite right. It ended up being that we needed a different time-lapse to make it feel fluid. Once we had this dialed in, we made our final corrections and released it on Vimeo. This was a really inspiring project to work on and one of the more emotionally driven pieces I’ve worked on. Working so closely with a writer and feeding off of each others’ ideas was a very fun process and overall, I’m really happy with the final product.