MIFS: Where did the idea for the film come from?
The idea for 'A Pilgrim's Journal' came from an interest in blending two genres: Drama and Comedy. I've always had a special appreciation for films that have told socially or morally challenging stories, but have done so with a great deal of humor. I became very interested in the idea putting our protagonist through a highly dramatic and challenging event, but at the same time being forced into a relatable setting that is ripe with comedy: Thanksgiving dinner with their family. I also wanted to take an extremely provocative situation and tried to present it in both a realistic and objective way.
MIFS: How much did the project change from concept to final edit?
The film became slightly less comedic as we got deeper into the editing process. Navigating the balance between drama and comedy was always a challenge, especially given the tragic events our protagonist is wresting with. The script we shot was lighter in tone, but when we were assembling the footage we realized it needed to be a bit more grounded given the circumstances. We also ended up holding certain information from the audience for longer than originally intended. We came to the conclusion that the film's final scene would have much more of an unsettling resonance if the audience was in the dark until the last moments.
MIFS: Were there any challenges during production?
When you have such a limited about of resources you are always tested on the logistics front. Time and money are never on your side. The greatest challenge though would still have to be getting the tone right in the editing room. Making sure the film wasn't getting too light or too dark. You have to service all the characters, not just the protagonist. Always keeping in mind that the supporting characters are also living their lives and having their own experiences, which can sometimes be tonally at odds with the protagonist's story. Keeping all the characters tonally within the same film was the greatest challenge.
MIFS: With the film completed, what has been the most rewarding thing about the whole experience?
I was lucky enough on 'Pilgrim' to have a great cast and crew. My favorite part of filmmaking is meeting and working with such a talented and generous group of actors. Nothing is more exciting then watching characters you've only imagined, be brought to life by an exceptional cast. Movies are made in the editing room, but the experience of making the film is when you're rehearsing and shooting with the cast and crew. The days of the shoot are the most stressful because time and money are so limited, but they are also the most rewarding. I want to take one last opportunity to thank such a terrific and generous cast: Tom Reed, Jocelyn Fitz-Gibbon, Brian Miracle and Flora Coker. They all turned in amazing performances!
A Pilgrim's Journal screens Nov 9th as part of the 14th Annual Milwaukee Short Film Festival at 5:15pm in the Lubar Auditorium, MAM.