Behind The Scenes Journal
by Benjamin Owen (producer)
Just over a week from production and we had no locations. Then after much prayer, I providentially walked into the Heritage House in downtown Dickson. They asked if I was looking for anything in particular and I awkwardly explained I was looking for a movie location. Well, not only were they very willing to help, they also put me in contact with the owners of what would become our creek location. So in only a few days, we had all of our locations secured in an unexpected way.
Ah, and I couldn’t find an actor! With only a couple weeks before filming, everyone I could think of was unavailable. But I cannot imagine having anyone other than Stone Davis for this movie. He and his parents were very patient and willing to work with us. Plus he has a great actor’s name!
We had good sunshine and some nice wind, but that wind soon brought rain. We didn’t want rain and actually prayed that it would not. However, I’ve never had it rain on a film project that it didn’t turn out to be a good thing. And once again, the rain proved to be a blessing for the project in various ways.
Anthony Phipps worked very hard as the Director of Photography. He was expected to move fast, be creative, read the director’s mind, and most of all; keep the camera out of the water. Anthony did fall once (nearly took my breath away) in the creek, but he managed to keep the camera above the water.
Now at the lake, logistics would not allow us to place the sailboat out on the water. So we filmed there as if a boat was really floating out on the lake, and Johnathan later composited our little sailboat into the scene.
A very funny moment on set was when Mrs. Davis had to hold the umbrella. She was sitting on the creek bank, keeping our extra equipment out of the rain. I had to walk back to the vehicle for something and while I was gone, the others had moved further down the creek. When I returned, she said; “Can you hold these things while I turn around?”. Yes, the crew had moved down the creek and left her facing the wrong way — with her back to the action.
When we started post production, Caleb did the rough edit – putting together the movie and deciding what takes to use. Then he sent the project to me for the finish work – fine tuning transitions, color correction and a few After Effects sequences.
Because it was late in the day, and raining, when we filmed the workshop scene; it lacked the bright cheerfulness we wanted. So I added a glow coming through the window. Then we didn’t have enough footage to properly cover the boat construction sequence. That’s where a watercolor transition provided a nice, creative solution. Johnathan Schutz did a fantastic job on that effect for us – which heavily influenced the overall project.
It was very frustrating to start editing and find the crew was reflected in all three store windows. Something needed to be done with that, which is how Johnathan Schutz was first involved in the project. He carefully masked around Stone Davis in each scene so that the windows could be darkened; hiding the reflections.
The ladder time-lapse clips matched pretty close from the camera, but I combined them in After Effects to get a closer transition.
Color correction was a challenge because lighting changed so much between clips. Some scenes were sunny, others were cloudy. Some clips had no visible trees, and other clips were filled with green treetops. Caleb also wanted yellow to be the key color of the movie. However, emphasizing yellows and blues was hard in footage that was mostly green tones. In the end, I think everything looked surprisingly close to our goal.
Audio for the sailboat line snapping was a major challenge because we wanted it to sound believable (given its small size). We also wanted it to sound important – almost like a real rope breaking. However, circumstances had forced me to do the sound design… so we just got as close as we could. Besides that, most location audio had too many background sounds and was not usable. Many of the creek water sounds came from our b-roll footage recorded on a different day. And all of the footstep sounds are actually my own (recorded at a different creek).
Every film project is a reminder to me how reliant we are on God’s provision. I may be “in charge” with the title of producer, but constantly find that I’m not in control; this movie was completed with God’s good help.
“To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” — 1 Peter 5:11