SHORTFILMTEXAS (SFT): What is your film Eulogy Maker about?
LESLIE LANGEE (LL): It’s a bittersweet film about Elliot, a young boy who gives eulogies for his friends’ pets. His grandpa used to give eulogies at funerals for people and Elliot is following in his steps. Elliot starts off kinda rough, but he gets better and in round about way, makes his grandpa proud.
SFT: Where was Eulogy Maker filmed?
LL: About 20 miles southeast of Austin Texas, there is an incredible filming location called Ball Farm. I forgot how many acres is out there, maybe a hundred? But everything was there. The rusted out cars, open fields, cows, woods, the old house for the exterior and interior shots – everything we needed.
SFT: What advice can you give filmmakers working with child actors on a difficult subject?
LL: I love working with kids. They are eager learners and love to play with character choices. During the auditioning process, the kids have read (or have been read) the sides, and they should know what to expect. So, don’t hesitate to ask them to go to those dark places. You must see if the child can do it, or has the potential to go there. Have them ad lib and play games, they may bring something to the scene that blows you away. (and always video tape the auditions.)
During shooting, you the director, should create a fun and safe environment. They need to feel supported if they are going to give you what you’re looking for. Keep things positive, but let them know when it’s time to work. For me, it’s kind of like being a camp counselor (which I did for years). Be friends, but always be in control.
Also, give lots of praise! But once you’ve gotten what you need, crack a joke, prank a PA, then have everyone shake it off and move on.
SFT: Tell me about your outstanding cast and crew.
LL: I can’t say enough wonderful things about my cast and crew!! My lead actor, Brayden Whisenhunt , is a talented, dedicated actor. I loved the vulnerability and subtly he brought to his character. He can most recently be seen in Terrence Malick’s, Tree of Life. Sonny Carl Davis, who plays the grandpa, brought amazing depth to his character. He’s an Austin treasure and has appeared in many films (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Thelma & Louise, etc.) and tv series (Lonesome Dove, The Magnificent Seven, etc.). Greg Omelchuck, my DP, was my Mr. Easy Going Guy, insightful , a great eye and a joy to work with. I also owe a lot to my producer and editor, Nancy Gresham. She’s super talented and has this positive energy thing, so that whenever I got discouraged, she’d figure out a way to get it done. I know it sounds like I’m laying it on thick, but it’s true when I say that everyone associated with this film was amazingly talented, hard working professionals and all around nice people.
SFT: The film looks beautiful. What did you shoot on? Likes or dislikes?
LL: Thanks! The weekend that we shot, a cold front came through causing fog to settle over the area. It was so thick, that we had to delay shooting for a few hours, but it ended up created a stunning effect.
We shot on an EX1 with Nikon Lenses. The only major dislike I had was the night we wrapped, a group of low life scumbags stole all of my DP’s equipment. Fortunately, I had a data wrangler on set and the raw footage was still on my laptop. Unfortunately, we never got Greg’s equipment back.
SFT: Who are some filmmakers that inspire your work?
LL: I’m kind of all over the place about filmmakers: Kathryn Bigelow, the Coen brothers, Terrence Malick, Debra Granik, Tarsem Singh, etc. On a day-to-day basis though, I’m incredibly inspired by my filmmaker friends, for their talent, tenacity, and vision. They don’t give up on their dreams and kick my ass when I pull a pity party.
SHORTFILMTEXAS (SFT): What’s next for you?
LESLIE LANGEE (LL): I just finished a short film “submerged” (a young girl goes to a wild party in the hopes of seeing her lifelong crush, but he doesn’t recognize her or their shared tragedy.) and I’m in the process of submitting it to festivals. I’m also making a short in the spring, which is based on a feature that I will be directing in 2013.
We’re Here Productions: www.werehereproductions.com
Greg Omelchuck (DP): www.moontowerfx.com
Brayden Whisenhunt (Actor) www.imdb.com/name/nm3077316/
Sonny Carl Davis (Actor) www.imdb.com/name/nm0205479/