Please tell us a little bit about how you became interested in cinema and how you entered this profession? Have you received academic training or it has been just personal experience?
I feel bad because I think everyone answers this question the same, so I apologize in advance for the repetition...but movies and comic books always were and continue to be an escape for me. I loved watching the special features and seeing all the work that went into the films I loved. I originally wanted to be a comic book artist because I love to draw but I have to credit my high school broadcast teacher Mrs. Honeywell for shifting my passion to filmmaking because she really encouraged me to be creative with that medium. One thing led to another and I started making short films with my friends/neighbors and I eventually went to film school at Belmont Univesity and just graduated this past August.
Where did the idea for this film come from and how was it formed? Tell us about the steps of writing a script?
So the idea came from Lily, the star of the film. She and I had worked together previously and had established a great working relationship and then in the summer of 2020, she reached out to me saying she had written a treatment for a film about the downfall of a social media influcner and she offered me the chance to direct it. At the time the only things I had directed where things I had written so to have someone ask me to direct their script really excited me and I really felt like I lucked out...because not only did Lily allow me to direct it but she also gave me so much creative freedom and allowed me to make it in my style, and for her to put that much trust in me meant the world.
We developed the script via zoom from June of 2020 to May of 2021 and had very extensive conversations about what themes/ideas we were wanting to explore as well as the most effective way to show this rise and fall through social media. Those zoom calls were definetley a highlight of quarantine for me haha. In fact there never really was a screenplay for the film, Lily and I made a very detailed outline of story beats and emotions to explore in each scene which allowed for a TON of improvisation on set.
How did you approach the role of Lacey and how long did it take to get to know this character?
Lacey was a combination of very different people, Lily and I pulled from our own experiences with social media, as well as that of our friends, and from real influencers themselves. Just looking at how they dress, how they talk, walk, write, etc, we spent a lot of time researching how to make Lacey feel real. Lily’s prep work was absolutley insane, she fully committed.
Through what process did you arrive at the current visual structure of the film? The movements of the camera, decoupages, editing and the general mood you have created inspire a kind of restlessness and movement in the audience.
Explain the visual structure of your film a little please.
I wanted the short to almost feel like a documentary, so I didn’t use a tripod and everything was handheld. I storyboard everything I direct extensivley, but I also like giving myself time to try new things and create shots on the fly. Lily and I have a very similar work ethic where we prepare like crazy but on the day we’re both very open to try new ideas, which added to the very creative atmosphere we had while shooting. I also love playing with color palettes in post and I wanted the short to slowly get more and more desaturated as the film goes on. I thought that could be a nice way to visually show Lacey’s downfall. In additon to the color palette, I also did not want to specify how much time had passed from the start of the film to the end of the film, I thought that if I kept that vague that would allow the viewer to interpret for themselves how long Lacey’s rise and fall was.
It is quite clear that the acting and the actor are key elements of the film and your film is a kind of actor's film. Tell us a little about emphasizing the importance of acting in your film.
Lily and I enjoy testing new things and challenging ourselves. We wanted Snowflake to be an experiment for us as well as a partnership from start to finish. The intention we always had was to make something to showcase her acting abilities by having her be the main presence on screen and also test me as a director as well. With the exception of two short scenes, there was no other actor I could cut to, Lily is on screen 95% of the time. I can’t compliment Lily enough for the emotional prep she did to play Lacey. We had numerous conversations about the different emotions she would have to bring to the table, because again she is the only actor for a majority of the film, so if she did not bring it in each scene, the movie would not work. She took her preparation extremely seriously and I think it shows in the film. I am forever grateful that our paths crossed because this experience of working with her was just awesome from start to finish.
In your opinion, what effect do festivals have on the visibility of films?
I think it’s a great way to have your films be seen by different audiences and its even better if you’re able to go in person to the festivals, because who knows who you’ll meet and run into. Plus it’s also allowed me the chance to do this interview haha, which was not something I expected to happen, so to do this was such a nice surprise and I am thankful for the opportunity.
Tell us about your favorite filmmakers and actors. What films have influenced you the most?
I’m a big fan of directors who have such a recognizable style and aesthetic, that the minute their film begins, you know you’re watching their vision. Directors like Stanley Kubrick, Ava DuVernay, Zack Snyder, and Guillermo Del Toro have and continue to inspire me. Some of my favorite actors are Denzel Washington, Cate Blanchett, and Michael Shannon. I think everything they do is awesome and every performance they turn in I’m just in awe. A few of the films that have influenced me the most would probably be The Wizard of Oz, 2001, The Big Lebowski, Pans Labyrinth, and Mandy.
Do you think dramas that focus on characters relationships have a way other than surrendering to psychological issues and subjects?
Definetley, I think it just depends on the story/relationship you’re trying to tell and explore. Again with Lacey, we pulled from a lot of different sources and inspirations to craft how this character would feel having this rise to fame and then seeing the mental toll it took on her. Our goal was never to offend or make anything gratuitious, of anything we wanted to create something that would spark a dynamic discussion on social media and the affect it has on us. Initially this film was going to be a mockumentary/comedy and then I thought it would be more effective if the film took itself more seriously, and once we agreed to do that, a lot of the darker themes and elements had more of a prescence.
How can you make a low-budget but visually professional film nowadays?
Again it goes back to the story as well as the aesthetic you want. This film from start to finish cost less than $500. A majority of our budget went to post production. For production itself, Lily and I just used what we owned because we thought that would add a nice level of authenticity to the movie. We also had very limited gear since we shot it during the pandemic and used a lot of natural lightening. I also didn’t shy away from making the picture look grainy because I thought that if the short looked like it was shot on an iPhone, that would add nicely to the tone/atmosphere we were creating given the film is about social media.
Please, if possible, tell us about the project you are currently working on.
Lily and I are discussing ways to expand on/do more with Snowflake because we both really love that story. In addition to that I’ve been working on a couple different projects with some friends of mine, no clue which will come first haha.