Why A Giraffe?

Spiritual Cinema Circle

Please tell us a little about yourself and your filmmaking career.

I am a 21 year-old filmmaker from Colorado Springs. I grew up making short comedy skits with a friend until eventually diving into several different areas—commercials, promotional videos, music videos, and especially longer narratives. This spring of 2017, I finished my Junior year of film school at Santa Fe University of Art and Design where I really focused on discovering myself as a filmmaker: my strongest skillsets, and what genres/themes I am most passionate about. I primarily focus on directing and cinematography, and have learned that I most enjoy making narrative adventure-dramas.

Where did the idea for Giraffe come from? How was the script developed?

One afternoon I was daydreaming in my room; staring at a blank wall, I noticed the stuffed-animal giraffe in the mirror. Why couldn’t a stuffed animal be a character? I began talking to the giraffe, and with the help of my roommate, a concept developed.

Little did I know, though, that I would end up exploring the real struggles of parenthood and child-loss; between the help of my teacher and the lead actor— who were both parents— I learned a lot about the character and what it may be like to raise a child. They really helped me flush out the emotional journey of this character in my first-ever drama, Giraffe.

Why a giraffe, and not another animal?

My freshman year of film school, I had just gotten out of class in which we talked about making simplistic films for our final project; I had been known for always doing difficult, over-the-top films and suddenly I was told to scale it down. Challenged by this, I decided to make a film with what was around me— the stuffed-animal giraffe being the first object I saw. I didn’t think about it much at the time, but looking back on the film, I am glad I used a giraffe rather than any other animal; though anything could have worked, giraffes are peculiar. Sad-looking, but cute… awkward, but quirky. It was the perfect combination for a serious drama with some comic relief.

Acting such an emotional part with a stuffed animal seems very challenging. How did you cast the star?

I was extremely fortunate in casting the star, Rob Tode. He was the only person I auditioned for the part, and immediately I knew he was perfect; being a father himself, he brought the character to life far more than I could have imagined and went the extra mile to truly understand the emotional journey of grieving the loss of a child. On set, Rob asked if he could insert one small thing into the dialogue. He named the giraffe Sam, his real son’s name.

Music was a crucial part of the film. Was it defined in the script…? Please tell us how the music was developed.

The music score for Giraffe was entirely sourced from Royalty Free Music by composer Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). None of the music was defined in the script, but I knew when I entered the edit that I wanted to stay mostly with piano. I searched for days through his selection of music to pick out pieces that were subtle, that would serve the emotions of each scene rather than force them. Many weeks of editing later, I was able to piece the various songs together seamlessly to strengthen the arc of the film. My personal favorites were Reawakening— the reoccurring “theme song” of the film— and At Rest, the ending song.

What are you working on now?

After creating a serious drama Giraffe and a melodramatic Every Man’s Trash, this year I decided to break out of my comfort zone and create a sci-fi drama titled Earth-6. Taking place in the future after Earth has been evacuated, three astronauts crash on Earth on a mission to repair an old weather station. With limited oxygen, they must decide who will be rescued and who will die. Check out @Earth6film on Facebook!

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