written and directed by JOSH WHALEN
Isolated by his own secrets, eleven-year-old Elliot finds a perfect, readymade kingdom within McMansions abandoned during the 2008 financial crash. When runaway Lucas arrives, Elliot—at first happy for the company—becomes terrified as Lucas uncovers everything Elliot wants to hide.
First Run Film Festival (2020)
I spent the latter half of spring semester junior year preparing to transport 15 NYU students to Georgia to shoot an intimate drama with 2 child actors over a 16-day period. Mostly, my prep covered logistics; travel, accommodations, line producing, and accounting for all possible hazardous scenarios (and this project involved many). NYU requires extensive proof of preparedness in order to grant COIs, and I made shepherding the logistics my priority while my co-producers, director, and key crew were busy graduating.
I created 23 separate transportation itineraries to account for staggered call times, different origin airports, and different ground transportation and housing scenarios. The talent stayed at a hotel. The crew crashed at the director’s parents’ home, which had to be reorganized every other night to prep for the next shoot. Each room we shot in had to be carefully stripped of furniture, re-wallpapered with shelf liner atop a layer of paper tape, prop dusted, and graffitied to resemble an unfinished house during the 2009 recession. And every crew member had to have a place to sleep. Besides the art-heavy set builds, I also had to safety-proof a pool scene, a couple of sweltering exteriors, a scene with the 10-year-old hammering drywall, multiple staged falls, and running scenes with trip hazards.
My greatest challenge on this project was not the extensive prep work but the challenge of being present and hospitable while also doing 20 things at once. Make sure everyone is hydrated. Keep the moms at bay. Keep the kids psyched. Vibe check the crew every 10 minutes. Have dinner ready on time and plan your ingredients out 3 meals ahead. Stay under budget. This became especially hard after my co-producer had to leave on day 5 due to an emergency. The experience taught me to staff my own department as well as everyone else’s.
Although the two weeks of production stretched me thin, my passion for the project and its impeccable morale kept me going. It felt like summer camp - and it was, by design.
& ALINA OLNICK
director of photography