This week the Running Wild crew filmed A Little Hero by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. This short is unusual because there is no dialogue in the script. I asked Director Travis Mills if it was more difficult and he replied with, “Just as hard, but a different kind of challenge. It’s difficult to direct actors to communicate the right emotions with the right expressions.”
I interviewed Cinematographer Nick Fornwalt about the process.
Were you challenged by the lack of dialogue in the script?
With A Little Hero, I did feel like I was challenged a bit by the lack of dialogue in pre-production. Having one less dramatic aspect of the film like this meant one less avenue for me to compare my visual storytelling notes with, so to speak…it became more interpretive. While shooting, things were much easier; Travis could yell at the talent all he wanted and there was no sound crew to wait on/blow my shots!
How challenging was the six-hour time crunch?
Though we managed to get it done, there were definitely times where I had to settle with certain shots and situations rather than being able to really get in there and tweak stuff. With that said, I feel like Travis and I work very efficiently together anyways, so it wasn’t too bad…we made it work.
What is it like to work with a limited crew and equipment?
Working with limited crew and equipment was tough. Though a huge crew wasn’t totally necessary, it would have been nice to have some more hands on set. As far as equipment goes…you learn to do more with less. The more I work with Travis and Running Wild, the more resourceful I’m becoming…that’s one of the major things I’m pulling from this “52 films in 52 weeks” project.
How do you prepare for a film?
Generally, I first like to familiarize myself with the script and talent as much as I can. By getting on board with the director early, I can try to get a feel for which direction he (or she) and the talent are looking to take the piece, and plan accordingly. I like to go to rehearsals, too. It helps me visualize the piece and get comfortable with the talent; allow them to get comfortable with me as well. Otherwise, it is a lot of picking the script up, making notes, putting it down and coming back to it fresh later on.
How are you preparing for your next short, Watcher by the Dead?
I’ve been going about it the same way, other than meeting with the talent. I think much of the script has an uncomfortable, awkward undertone to it, and I’m hoping that will be encouraged on screen by my unfamiliarity with the talent and their characters. I think this will be a very “fly on the wall”-esque piece.
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