INTERVIEW WITH BRENDAN BEACHMAN - WRITER & DIRECTOR OF WEDDING DAY
For newlyweds Brad and Jill, it seems the honeymoon is over before it even began. When an eccentric stranger named Jess White stumbles into the couples first argument as man and wife, the day takes an abrupt turn and changes their lives forever.
Did the script go through any development from the time that you entered the Fund to when you went into production? If so, what were the main changes?
The original script was quite a bit different tone-wise than the final script. The main story points remained, but I did some heavy reworking of all 3 main characters; Mainly the “Brad” and “Jill” characters. In the original version, they were shallow and vain. In the final version, I made an effort to make them much more complicated and sympathetic. I believe it paid off… at least I hope so!
Do you think about the practicalities of filming when you write? If so, how has that changed your writing process, or have you always thought that way?
I do keep that in mind when writing as I direct all my own material. There are times when I write just to write, with no real consideration of practicality, but for the most part I try and keep in mind the possibility that I may choose to direct the script in the future.
Once you won our Film Fund, what were your next steps? Did you always know that you wanted to direct the project? Did you have a producer or production company in mind?
I submitted to the Film Fund months before deciding to just bite the bullet and film it no matter what. We went into production in late April, and surprise surprise – the production ended up being much costlier than anticipated. As we are wrapping up post production, the award money from this contest is absolutely saving my hide. It is going to help to pay my composer and his musician, colorist, sound designer and VFX artist.
Did you have to take into account any COVID protocols before and during shooting? If so, can you talk a little about what you had to put in place?
We shot during a fairly sizable dip in infections and socially distanced in an entirely exterior shoot. Everyone was also vaccinated and boosted. If we were shoot now I believe I’d look into testing and possibly masking on set.
How did you find the cast? Did you get much time to rehearse with them before the shoot?
I had worked with both Scott and Megan previously and had reached out to them both at least a year prior about starring in the film. Due to busy schedules, we had to do read-throughs and a bit of rehearsal via zoom. Hugo was a referred to me by a good friend and collaborator Zachary Ray Sherman. They had worked together previously on a feature film and Zach had nothing but amazing things to say about him. Hugo was in a play at the time, so we only really had time to talk about the film via
email. It was an amazing surprise to witness the character that he had prepared on the first day of the shoot.
The film is set in a beautiful location. Can you talk a bit about how you find that area and got permission to film there?
I researched for weeks before stumbling upon Chamberlain Ranch in Los Olivos. I paid them to shoot on their property. It has the perfect look for the film. I have been close in the past to finding a location that has approximated what I envisioned in my head, but there has always been some level of necessary compromise. This was like it was literally transported from my imagination and manifested into a real place. It ended up becoming a sort of 4th character in the movie. I even hit jackpot on the interior locations for Jess White’s house as it was a cabin on the ranch that my cinematographer and I were staying in during the shoot. We did barely any art direction on the place. It was perfect. While I was walking around the property I stumbled on a garage that had an amazing old truck in it. I decided on the spot to get a shot with Jess so we ran over and shot it and it has become my favorite shot of the whole film.
What would you say is your directing style? Do you use storyboards. Allow your cast to improvise?
I will board scenes that have complicated camera moves or character blocking. Everything else is planned out via a detailed shot list. Then when we arrive on location we walk through and talk in depth about angles and create overheads. I like to be as prepared as possible so that I have the freedom to ditch plans on the day. As for my actors, I like to keep it to the script if possible, but I am absolutely open to improvisation if something is feeling off. My directing style is to keep a positive and mellow/casual atmosphere. It’s a team effort so I want every single person to feel valued and respected.
How many days did you shoot for?
We shot for 4.5 days
How is the post production coming together?
We are closing in on wrapping up. We are currently color grading, mixing dialog and adding sound design. I approached a musician by the name of Marty O’Reilly to compose the soundtrack as I listened to him constantly while writing the script. He is writing music in between concerts, so the music will be the last element added. I’m hoping to be completely done by mid August.
What are your aspirations for the short once it!s completed? Are you looking to make another short after this, or feature?
I would love to take this on a long festival run. Then I suppose I’ll work on a distribution plan to ensure that as many people as possible have the option to watch it online and on streaming platforms.
Next up for me (I HOPE) is to direct my first feature. I have been pitching a script called “The Lookout”, which actually won “Best Horror” in the Shore Scripts feature contest this year. I love making short films, but they do get pricey and my dream has always been to make feature films. I hope to use “A Wedding Day” as a vehicle to create some momentum and to open avenues of communication with producers and agents to get “The Lookout” off the ground.
What did you enjoy most about the shoot? What was the most difficult?
I love making movies so I enjoyed every second of filming A Wedding Day, even the night I dug a grave. That was brutal. After we we wrapped day 3 of 4, I stayed behind and dug a grave that we needed for the last day of the shoot. It was all shale rock, so I had to use a pick ax in order to dig down about 4 or 5 feet. It took me 6 hours of non- stop digging, and then I woke up 2 hours later for our last shoot day. I suppose it was a good metaphor for filmmaking
Which writers and directors are you most influenced by? Were there any specific films or TV Shows that inspired Wedding Day?
I’ve always been a big Coen Brothers fan, so their dark humor undoubtably influenced A Wedding Day
Do you have any advice for filmmakers embarking on maybe their first short film?
Make it your own! Make it personal. Make sure the script is great first, find the best actors you can. Then don’t skimp on sound.
Feel free to mention anything else about the shoot that we might have failed to miss.
There were thousands of these gnarly bugs with huge pinchers that could FLY at our location and they were pinching the hell out of us. Filmmaking is an adventure!
Find out more about the current season of our Short Film Fund HERE.