04 A shot from Strictly Textual


Recently, I took a stab at directing my first rom-com, Strictly Textual — a contemporary look at relationships in our digitally-driven age. This was a shot at going outside my comfort zone, not just in terms of genre, but also in directing a short film written by someone else. It’s one thing when you direct a story you wrote, because it’s exclusively your own vision that you’re bringing to the screen every step of the way. When it’s someone else’s story, it can complicate things, because I believe the writer’s vision must be respected as well.

One of the more difficult aspects of the film was all the motion graphic content. This film features text bubbles appearing on screen, inspired by (the Netflix smash) House of Cards‘ prolific use of them. Creating and animating those graphics was quite a tedious process, even for a short. That, along with my busy fall schedule — which included making my senior thesis film, Priest 2.0, while also working on the feature length Priest 2.0 — is why post-production for Strictly Textual was so drawn out.

The almost wall-to-wall music also proved to be a challenge because I wasn’t able to get a composer for the project, forcing me to create the music myself. Being a musician, playing guitar and piano, doesn’t make me a composer, but it certainly helps. However, it was difficult to score a ten minute film that needed music throughout, while keeping the “feel” of the music consistent with the onscreen content in every scene. Maybe if it was another horror film or thriller, it would have been a little easier, but scoring a rom-com was treading new ground for me.

The cast features LMU film and theatre students Erika Hoffman, Melissa Kaufler, Geordy Shallan — and myself. Principal photography only lasted a few days and I was fortunate enough to borrow a tripod with a horizontal arm for the “over the bed” shots, making that sequence much easier.

Currently Strictly Textual is being submitted to festivals, so it isn’t available for viewing yet, but here are a few pictures from the press kit.

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