Through the Cracks (3): Filming CHAOS THEORY

Production: the ultimate dream, and worst nightmare, of any filmmaker. It is the shortest phase in the process by far, and also the one in which everything can go wrong. It is the period of two weeks, or five months, when you must execute the story that you have crafted for years. Terrifying and wonderful at once.

Now that the film has been released, I find it timely to reflect on its creation, and our own unique production phase.

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DP Kimberly Greenwell with actors Kat Solko and Rachelle Wood.

Our shoot for CHAOS THEORY was not typical. On a shoe-string budget it was impossible to secure crew members and actors. We had to rely on favors asked and time given for free. These constraints could easily have ruined the process and killed the project before it gained life. But the artistic community is full of generosity and love. I was lucky enough to find a cast and crew who dedicated their time through simple love of the project.

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The graveyard with Madison Petri, Dixon White, Jason Maxwell and Gregg Painter.

We filmed for 12 days in total. Our locations were centered around Littleton, the suburb of Denver where I grew up. In the process of shooting we revisited the graveyard in which I filmed my first project (age 9), my elementary school playground, and my grandparents’ house; an unsettling but special pastiche of old memories. Because of my familiarity with those locations, I was better able to frame and block scenes in ways that picked out unusual details. (Tip #1 – choose locations that you know, and know you can get.)

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DP Kimberly Greenwell frames Julia Berensen and Jason Maxwell.

Those 12 days were certainly arduous. Most of the time it was our skeleton crew and Kat, acting out scenes that only featured her. The performance was exhausting for Kat, not only because of the emotional heights she reached, but also due to the 90-degree weather that plagued us on our exterior sets. Her professionalism still astounds me – in addition to rocking the performance, she knew the character better than I did. That kind of collaboration, as far as I understand, is rare on any sized set. The same goes for the rest of the cast and crew – once we set the scene and framed the camera, they would bring their own life and intensity. It allowed me to wear different hats without worry that I missed something. (Tip #2 – pick actors who are good for the role, but also good to work with. They will make or break you.)

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Director Ben Larned and actor Kat Solko.

Without going into too much detail, I will say that the shooting process was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Engaging in that collaboration gave me so much hope for the future. And because of that, I say to young filmmakers like myself – don’t wait for a budget. Write a script that needs no money, pick a few friends, and go make something. Waiting will destroy a creative spirit. Don’t let yourself stagnate.

Now you know the process – how about seeing the finished product? CLICK HERE to watch CHAOS THEORY now.

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