The Teller and the Truth
I was location scouting in Smithville, Texas, and came across a newspaper article posted on a wall about a 1974 bank robbery involving a beautiful young local girl. When I saw her picture, I had to know more and never looked back. The Teller and the Truth film is based on her story.
How do you relate to your characters or subjects?
They take huge risks regardless of the outcome.
What aspect of the story changed the most during writing and production?
As we dug into the local Texas story, it soon evolved into being a global search for clues and answers. We never expected to be filming in places like France and India, but it happened.
What influenced the visual style of your film?
Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life film and the rich colors of Pedro Almodovar’s films inspired me to push the colors of the film as far as possible. Most films are shot around 5500 kelvin (color temperature). We shot most of The Teller and the Truth at 10,000 kelvin.
What was the most courageous decision you or your crew made during writing and production?
We decided to take the story about the bank robber escaping the scene by jumping on a fast moving freight train. Knowing that only big budget studio productions could hire a actual freight train, we decided to try to shoot the scene with the actor jumping on real trains, without telling anyone.
If we were to ask permission, it never would have happened.
Were there any risks that you faced during writing/production and how did you find a way to embrace them?
Our crew carefully awaited real freight trains to pass by and started filming on the spot. When you see the scene, you’ll realize just how brave the actor (Russell G. Ochoa) had to be to make it work.
Eventually, after several tries, we realized that both the actor and the camera operators had to be on the moving train so we all took the risk together.
Later in the production, with the assistance of the folks at Austin Steam Train Association, we were able to film his close-ups.
What risks does your story take?
Telling a story that starts out as a documentary and later evolves into a narrative is risky if it’s not balanced just right. Even more risky is making a film involving two main characters that do not speak.
How would you encourage others to tell their story or manage through the process of screen writing or film producing?
Feel free to break the rules.
In an age when there is so much content, you almost have to break the conventional rules in order to garner notice. It’s not always welcomed by the gatekeepers of the industry, but it’s worth the risk if you can create something new and exciting.