The Witness | Thriller Short Film

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The Witness | Thriller Short Film


Winner - Best Action Short - Tokyo Genre Celebration Film Festival
Nomination - Best Cinematography - Tokyo Genre Celebration Film Festival
Nomination - Best Visual Effects - Tokyo Genre Celebration Film Festival
Official Selection - Athens Anatomy Crime & Horror International Film Festival
Official Selection - Bloodstained Indie Film Festival

The Witness is my 5th student film that I made while attending film school. Working with no budget, little time, and non-actors made this film very challenging. We shot the film in 4 days with 2 short pickups. Every crew member had long hours but was always passionate and understanding. I had to take on many roles outside of directing, writing, producing and editing. I also acted in the film, drew the storyboards, location scouted, cast actors, organized catering, found every prop and stored them in my small apartment, I acted as transportation for the majority of the crew on production days, and more. All the small fees felt like huge purchases. All costs were put on my credit cards. Every day was a struggle and there were many times I thought the film would have to be canceled. I continued to push ahead until I could make it happen, no matter the cost.

We did not have permits for the locations that we shot in, because we could not afford them. The school I was making the film for, Academy of Art University, said that they could not pay or waive the permit fees. We had no choice but to guerrilla the entire film outside of the beginning bar location and alleyway shots, which we were granted permission by the owners. The interior house location was my actual apartment at the time. I was lucky enough to have had such understanding roommates who gave me permission to shoot inside even while they were at home.

I could not have made this film without my friends and colleagues. Anton Rivera the assistant director acted more as a producer, coordinating everything that I couldn’t due to lack of time or energy. He made this film work where I couldn’t. After our first cinematographer dropped out, our colleague Salt Cebe took over the cinematography reins as our new director of photography. If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have had the time to fill the role. Somehow everything came together and my crew stepped up to make the film a reality. The editor, Antonio, would have me over to co-edit the film on his computer. I would go over on weekends but sometimes due to our busy schedules, there were weeks at a time where we couldn’t edit the film. I ran out of money to finish it too. Greg Harriman, the executive producer, helped fund the rest of the film while it was in the final phases of post-production and saved it from being in production hell.

I wanted to challenge myself to make the witness without any dialogue and to be very visual. I have always loved the idea of a silent action/thriller film. I left sound effects in to make it have more weight. I didn’t want it to be completely silent (to have music only). The sound effects give the film weight and make the action believable. It’s an attempt to find the balance the film needs to strike if it doesn’t have any speaking roles.

Since the film is so visual-heavy, there needed to be a balance of music. I felt that it should be more on the atmospheric side rather than say, something that predominantly speaks unspoken thoughts or that mickey mouses the story. I felt that would be too redundant and obvious. I wanted the environments to work with the score to create an atmospheric setting that would make it into its own place rather than something ordinary and plain. Something dream-like. a nightmare. This is why the locations were in industrial areas. having bright vivid lighting within those dismal areas helped highlight the style and mood. The world needed to match its characters, especially the bird and the old man. The witness, played by scotty wood is in their world. I needed to craft their world in the visuals and sound

The film went on to get accepted into three film festivals and was rejected from many many more.
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