FILMMAKER Q&A – Jonny Lewis

GS: What was the inspiration for your film?

JL: I was thinking about the glory that society (American and others also) gives to soldiers who die in battle. We give the family a flag and maybe some medals, but their son or daughter is dead, so what value do those medals have? And mostly, I thought about the fact that essentially, when one young person signs up for for the “job” of being in the military, they are signing up for a job that might leave them dead. And when a family proudly encourages their son or daughter to sign up for the military, they are encouraging a contract for something that might take their son or daughter away from them forever. This is a fact, yet we completely ignore it. then when the soldier dies, we provide flags and medals as if they mean something. But I know that if my son were “replaced” by a flag on the mantel, the flag would be no consolation at all. (Luckily, my son never showed any interest in the military.)

GS: When did you conceive the idea for your film and how long did it take before it was realized?

JL: It just took a few months. I had worked with the actress before, so casting was easy. same with the voice-only actor, who came to set to play the son off-camera.) Then we needed a location. My former landlady attended a festival where one of my other films was screening, and she offered us the use of her home to shoot in while she was at work. 

GS: What was the most challenging aspect of working in a short film format?

JL: No challenge, really. i love it. but for other filmmakers i would say that the key is to pare down your dialogue to only what is absolutely necessary. That way you’re keeping the audience’s attention and interest every second.

GS: What was the most challenging aspect of your production?

JL: It was pretty easy, really. we shot everything in an entryway, and the home was well back from the street, and on a cul-de-sac, so we didn’t have any noise problems.

GS: Do you have any advice for first-time filmmakers?

JL: Make sure you have a great story and a tight script. The audience won’t care how good your film looks if your story isn’t compelling. And grab the audience’s attention right away with an interesting situation or line of dialogue. Especially for a short film, the audience doesn’t want to wait around while you develop some clever setup for the good part that doesn’t come until the end.