Nonprofessional actors. Improvised lines. Natural performances. That fast-paced, low budget style of filmmaking that makes you feel connected to your subject. With The Egg and the Hatchet, I wanted to live in that world of spontaneity, but at the same time retain a specific visual style.
The first step, rehearsal. Lots of rehearsals. I wrote out scenes that were never going to make it into the movie. The point was to get Jeremy and Taylor comfortable with one another, especially given that Taylor was a first time actor. I shot all of the rehearsals on a 5d and started figuring out how the camera was going to work between the actors. I never wanted to be a fly on the wall, looking at them through a pair of binoculars. The camera needed to be a part of the dance.
On set, I let the actors improvise, but there were always boundaries, especially when dealing with blocking. We did take, after take, after take. Around Take 20, they no longer had to think about hitting their marks. The performance would change, but Taylor and Jeremy would hit their marks without having to think about them. It was at this point that I really felt that I had control. All of the physical elements were synced and I could just focus on performance. It became about shaping the tone of the scene to my intentions for the story.
Finding a balance between spontaneity and construction is what made this process invigorating, but also very time consuming. I expected to shoot the film in five days. We ended up finishing in ten, with an additional pickup day after I finished editing. At times it's embarrassing to admit because friends of mine have shot features in less time, but I believe time is the most valuable currency that you can give your art. Shooting a feature in a week has never been a goal of mine.
At the end of the day, after all of this mastrabatory reflection on process has come to an end, the movie is what it is. A picture of a boy and a girl, dancing around each other- capturing that energy, that weighted question between them, that was always the agenda, from page one. Also, I wanted magic hour.