Ryan Daly asks Chris Radcliff & Lauren Wolkstein of the short film The Strange Ones
Q. What format did you shoot on and why?
A. We shot on the RED camera, basically because it was an affordable format that still
allowed us to achieve the sort of rich cinematic look we wanted. Also we were able to
use a gigantic zoom lens to shoot much of the film, which was an important tool for us in
terms of how we wanted to tell the story and build tension visually.
Q. How is it to co-direct a film? What is that relationship like?
A. Co-directing for us was a great experience, but that would likely differ for most people
based on personality. We were lucky in that our personalities match up very well, so
we were never in conflict and were also always on the same page creatively, which is
probably quite rare. Our particular relationship as co-directors was very symbiotic -
we share similar interests and strengths as directors so we didn’t want to divvy up duties
(i.e. one of us working with camera, the other actors), so we basically did everything
together. But since we also trusted each other a great deal, we allowed each other to make
decisions on the fly and implement them without having long conversations amongst
ourselves – that helped a great deal in keeping things moving on set.
Q. How was the narrative developed? What is the process like when writing with a partner?
A. The narrative originated from the limitations we gave ourselves – three characters, one
location. But we also knew what type of film we wanted to make, and what tone/feel we
wanted it to have. From there, we brainstormed scenarios and characters, and somehow
came up with this. In terms of writing together, we basically passed drafts back and
forth, and each made revisions from there. In general the process of writing was fairly
quick for this film, and we tried not to second guess ourselves too much. Also, having a
writing partner was great because it allowed us to be bolder or more confident with our
ideas than maybe we would have been on our own.
Q. In The Strange Ones, there is a level of ambiguity, something remains undetermined. When writing with a partner, how do you navigate this ambiguity?
This is an interesting point. We knew we wanted to really embrace the ambiguous
nature of the story, so it was very important to us to figure out how and when to reveal
information in the film, while always trying to determine how this would affect the
audience’s experience and perception of the film. Throughout the entire process of
making this film, from the script through the final cut, we were constantly discussing how
to go about layering tiny hints and clues and ambiguous bits within the film, and in the
end all we could do is follow our instinct and hope it works for our audience. Working with a partner actually probably made aspect of the process this much easier – since film
is such a subjective thing, having another opinion all the time really helps to gauge the
effectiveness of your choices in a slightly more objective way than if you were making
all the decisions on your own.
Q. Is it still important to watch cinema in a community environment?
A. Definitely – coming from a filmmaker’s perspective and thinking about how your own
work could be seen, there is something really great and irreplaceable about the collective
audience experience. And in general as an audience member, rather than sitting alone
and watching films on a small screen, viewing cinema in a community environment
really feels like it results in a much more attentive and energized viewing of whatever
you are watching.