Directed by Mark Williams, this is an exceptionally well written script by Bill Dubuque. The story largely takes place in the competitive world the boiler-room office and a father who is detached from his family must find a way to connect with his son when he’s faced with illness. The son has an interest in Chicago architecture and teaches his father about appreciating the simple beautiful things that are right in front of him. Gerard Butler plays the lead roll and was very excited to star in this very delicately written piece. I always enjoy seeing an actor take a chance and work outside their safety zones. For me, I try to take the camera on a similar journey in these cases… Work outside my safety zone as well and create a united front between the director, actors and myself so that they can feel safe and supported and have some faith that the camera will be there for them when they need it. It must be tough for these actors to challenge themselves like this and I try to constantly monitor what they might be needing so that the crew can help them. In addition, first time director (but quite experienced producer) Mark Williams had an intimate understanding of the material and since the characters all go through massive changes in the telling of the story, was enormously helpful in establishing the faceted arc for the narrative. Personally, I’d swear he’s done 10 films. He’s a natural. Ultimately this film is about understanding people and how the right thing is often not the easiest thing, and I think this same idea is what we strived for in the spirit in the cinematography as well.
Here’s a short frame for you. The great actor Alfred Molina eavesdrops on a telephone conversation and we wanted to really push his sense of despair, so we decided to push the anamorphic framing a bit. Interestingly, this shot was made on our first day of shooting. I think that when you push a frame like this early in the production process, you almost give the crew permission to think a bit outside the box and it fosters a spirit knowing their own suggestions can be a little more extreme. After we made this shot, I noticed Operator Michael Carella really click-in and search for opportunities where his framing would add layers to the storytelling. First AC Barrett Axford did similar things with his expressive focus-pulling that followed the meaning of the dialogue… And not necessarily the words. A film set is busy and distracting and it’s wonderful to have crew that thinks about story. In addition, our gaffer, Mike Hall and key grip Rico Emmerson were constantly finding creative solutions to technical challenges. Often when hiring a crew on location, I consider the personalities and group dynamic and try very hard to pair the right personalities with the specific project. So much of this is a gut call, since I’m often the stranger in these cases and know nothing of these people. I was very happy with how hard this crew worked on this project and helped Mark and Gerard through the process of making this film.