What inspired you to come up with the idea for the film?
I met Jeff Bowden on the set of my first film SIRONIA and we stayed in touch when I moved to Austin. Over coffee, Jeff told me about this journey he was on inspired by a photograph of a refugee boy taken by a French female war photographer during the Kosovo war. I was beyond intrigued. Jeff invited me to come along on part of the journey as a kindred spirit observer. As we met a Kosovar photographer who told us about how Alexandra Boulat influenced him, we understood that this story was bigger and deeper than we imagined. By the plane ride home I was on board as a documentarian. Twenty-airplane-rides-within-a-single-month later, we were well on our way as I followed Jeff on his quest to find the boy from the photograph. Through Kosovo, Croatia, Paris, Boston, and New York — we kept meeting the most fascinating people. I wanted to explore how the impact of this single image was unfolding from both sides of the shutter…to learn more about the photographer, the subject, and the passionate observer.
How do you relate to your characters or subjects?
As a photographer myself, my interview with Gary Knight and Ron Haviv was beyond inspiring to me. I think “admire” is a more appropriate term than “relate.” The opportunity to talk with these incredible photojournalists was one of the highlights of an already epic shoot.
What aspect of the story changed the most during writing and production?
I don’t think I can answer that without any *spoilers*. A lot changed in the edit room as we explored a variety of ways to craft the story from a variety of angles. I was blessed to work with Sandra Adair as well as May Kuckro. You have to go down many roads to end up at the story that wants to be told on screen.
What influenced the visual style of your film?
For documentary work, I’m always trying to maintain authenticity within the most engaging frame. It’s a delicate balance. The photographs in A SINGLE FRAME are the true heroes, so I wanted to make sure that nothing I shot got in the way of letting those photographs breathe and remain center-stage.
What was the most courageous decision you or your crew made during writing and production?
I think the courage began with Jeff leaving the comfort of his office to seek out the story of the Kosovar refugee boy who’s picture was hanging on his wall as a gift from his daughter. I’ve heard of many who were inspired by a photograph, but few who turn that into action. The second courageous step was to trust me to document it mid-stream. The journey began as something personal and private, and I think it took courage to let others in and then let that be seen.
Were there any risks that you faced during writing/production and how did you find a way to embrace them?
At one point during the filming, we realized we were walking in an area that could still have land mines buried. It’s a difficult situation to embrace when you’re walking while looking through a camera lens. Our cautious steps gave us all a glimpse into the world of the photograph.
What risks does your story take?
There is a risk when dealing with war in film that the audience will tune out from fatigue seeing overwhelming imagery. I think A SINGLE FRAME does a good job of balancing the atrocities of war while giving you the time to be thoughtful along the journey. Although there is an education on the Yugoslav Wars, at it’s core, A SINGLE FRAME is the human story of one boy, one photographer, and the impact her photograph had on one Austin, Texas father standing awestruck in a gallery in Croatia.
How would you encourage others to tell their story or manage through the process of screen writing or film producing?
As a writer+director of narrative films as well as docs, my encouragement would be to work in your passions. The process of writing, directing, and producing is far too bumpy and challenging to spend a beat outside of what you love. Tell stories that communicate truth — the kind of truth you can stand behind through all the disappointments of independent filmmaking in this season. At the end of the day, you need to be proud of your work and the endless hours it took to get there. If it means you have to shoot on an iPhone to bring your brilliant script to screen… do that before you spend years on something you don’t believe in.