What inspired you come up with the idea for the film?
Space & Time was inspired by the simultaneous experiences of a broken heart and the desire to make something personal as an artist. It also looks at the feeling of being stuck or not good enough as a young artist at the beginning of their career
Why did you want to tell this story?
I wanted to tell this story because I felt that if I was feeling lonely and confused as I neared the end of my twenties a lot of other people probably have as well. And I felt there was room to address the seriousness of the aimlessness, while also having some fun with some things that people might take too seriously.
How do you relate to your characters or subjects?
I can see a little of myself in all of them. Sean of course is loosely inspired by some of my experiences, but I chose to spell his name differently to acknowledge that there is a lot of difference and he is not an autobiographical character. Siobhan’s determination and passion, but also fear of failure all speak to me. Even Alvin’s attempts to relate to people and try to become a cooler version of himself resonate with me.
What aspect of the story changed the most during writing and production?
We shot this film incrementally over the course of about 11 months. So after each shooting block, I would go back to the script using what I learned from the last block and reshape what remained of the story. Sometimes this would mean that a choice an actor made on set would become a larger part of the story, or a motif. And sometimes it meant that if I had an idea for a recurring element I got a chance to see if it worked or not. For example, there was an idea early on with a small plane that was found in one of the first few scenes. After we shot that scene, I felt that the device was cliche and stupid, so I wrote it out of the rest of the story. But, I had a chance to reflect on it, and reshape it. We also found that our character DD took on a different shape as we shot, so we would course correct as much as we could as production continued. It gave us a buffer to make mistakes, re-shoot scenes if necessary and learn as we went along.
What was the most courageous decision you or your crew made during production?
I would say the decision to shoot a film incrementally. The film was self-financed, and I am not rich. So, I was able to raise the money as we went along. It also meant for a team that was largely making their first feature film the task felt less daunting. We were able to take 1-5 days off work at a time, every few months, so in many ways it felt like we were making a collection of short films. This really gave us room to fail, take risks, and know that if something didn’t work out we had the opportunity to add a day to production or plan a re-shoot. There were a few scenes that were re-shot, and others that were scrapped because we were able to see that something didn’t work after assembling a scene.
Where there any risks that you faced during production and how did you find a way to embrace them?
The biggest risks were that our cast or crew wouldn’t be available when we needed them next, that something would happen that changed the appearance of our actors (like a haircut or injury), or that my apartment building management would start on a new construction project in my building that would interfere with shooting.
The first part relates to our cast and crew. They are all working actors and crew, who work regularly on a number of TV shows and films. So scheduling was always a nightmare, but after really struggling a few weeks at a time for each block we would find something that worked.
There was a moment when we shot a scene with a character Alvin, who goes home with another character. We shot the scene where they go home together in February 2016. But we weren’t going to be able to shoot a scene where they wake up together until May 2016. Sometime around March, the actor who played Alvin posted a photo on social media with his longish hair and beard totally shaved off. After a minor freak out, I sent him a message and he let me know that it was just posted for Throwback Thursday.
The apartment building which I live in also came under new management during our filming of the movie. They started to do a number of construction projects (so they could rent units for more money). But this often meant very loud noise, drilling, and taking up all of the parking spaces. We managed to avoid the worst of it, but just before and after some of our shooting blocks my unit would have been inaccessible.
What influenced the visual style of the film?
We thought we wanted to take a more mumble core approach based on our budget, but the DOP and myself started to feel if we asked for a few favours from a camera rental facility (Sim Digital) that we could really achieve a more polished look. Some of the visual look comes from the lack of crew (we had anywhere from one to 6 people for camera, lighting and grip, but usually it was just two.) So we needed to be able to setup fast and shoot quickly. We never used a dolly or steadicam because we didn’t have the crew for it, but we tried to introduce movement as much as possible, whether that be from a pan, a tilt, handheld on occasion and the blocking. We also tried to make visual changes whenever the seasons or a living situation changes. Environments feel warmer, camera angles more intimate when people are happy in the relationships. Cooler and more isolated angles when they are not. We tried to keep this subtle, but it is present and informed throughout the film.
What risks did you take to tell your story?
There was always the risk that I would lose my job, that work would become too demanding to continue shooting, that I wouldn’t be able to fund the film. We risked losing our actors to a big gig (we had a few close calls with actors on hold for major TV series, some being booked after we shot). I also risked a new landlord that was trying to get old tenants to move out of the building so they could raise the rent. So, we battled with these things for about a year of production and tried to go with the flow.
How would you encourage others to tell their story or manage through the process of screen writing or film producing?
I’ve often found that when people look for advice on how to shoot or fund their first feature they are asking people for directions to Narnia. In the Narnia books people often get to Narnia a different way. It isn’t always through a wardrobe. I had a number of stories to tell and I found that a few things lined up for me to make this particular one. I had an apartment on the first floor of a building with large rooms and big windows where I could setup lights without being too disruptive. I just received a big promotion at work so I had a bit of extra money. I also had some really good friends who were very talented, in the same place as me and wanted to make a first feature together. I had an equipment rental house that I had a great relationship with, and a few people who owed me favours. So, the biggest encouragement is to take a calculated risk and do it. Like responsible gambling I knew what I could risk to lose and set a limit. I also took stock of the things around me and told the story that I could given the means. Hopefully, for the next few films I want to make I can expand on my pool of resources, but the best encouragement is that there is probably a film you can tell based on putting together the right things in your life. Those are things you probably have right now, you just need to figure out how to fit them together.
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