Earlier this month, long-time friend and collaborator Jason Christ asked a unique favor of me: He requested I put my photography skills to work for a script he is currently writing.
Back in the mid-90s, Jason Christ auditioned for a film I was directing called Ice From The Sun. He was cast in a supporting role - and we’ve worked together many times since. Jason wrote and directed Savage Harvest 2: October Blood, while I executive produced and played a lead role. We switched things up on Deadwood Park, which I directed - Jason was an executive producer and he played a supporting role. Jason and I co-wrote Ratline - I directed, and Jason played one of the leads in the movie.
As he types away on his new script, Jason is interested in expressing the tone of the feature film beyond what words in screenplay format can communicate. He has put together a “script soundtrack” of music that sells the mood of his film (which is tentatively titled Exquisite). Likely, the tracks on this “script soundtrack” won’t end up in the finished film, but I think his selection of music is a smart tactic in conveying the tone of the movie he is writing.
Also, Jason is interested in a photo that will sell the tone of the piece. He asked me to shoot it for him. The photo will be used on the CD cover of his “script soundtrack” (which, along with the screenplay, will only be handed to industry people who he is trying to attract to the project). He’ll also use the same photo as a cover image on his script and, perhaps, other documents associated with the film during its development stage.
None of this is groundbreaking. Films in development often use advance images and music to attract investors, actors, and others who will bring the movie to life. This is, however, new to me, in that I’ve never been the photographer behind the lens capturing such images for someone else’s script.
So, on a recent chilly evening, I found myself in an alleyway, setting up lights for the photograph that Jason had planned out. Gus Stevenson, a man of many skills, was my assistant on the lighting. We lit for about forty-five minutes, then the talent was placed in the shot. In frame were Jason Christ (in addition to writing the script, he intends to play a lead role), New York actor Blake Evan Sherman, and St. Louis actor Eli DeGeer. All three are top contenders for lead roles – but are not guaranteed to be handed the parts. That’s a peculiar aspect of these advance, non-public promo materials: They may be telling lies.
Jason has told me the basic story of his new screenplay – but, I have not yet read a single page. I do not know what involvement, if any, I will have in this movie – if it even gets made at all. For the time being, I’m just the photographer who took the advance promotional photo that only a handful of people will ever see.
Thanks for reading.
- Eric Stanze