Ryan Kramer

BTS of New Short "Still Water"

Yesterday evening we wrapped on our newest work, "Still Water," a short-form horror film. 

Logline: A young girl takes some much needed advice from her mother on how to overcome her fear of the water... or so she thinks.

The idea for the film came to me after one of our writing groups with Christina & Kelsey. Location is always one of the toughest things to acquire when shooting on no budget. I don't like to restrict my writing to location, but when I thought of the fact that I could have access to a pool during the summer for a shoot, my mind began to race, grasping for ideas for a film in my favorite genre. I fell in love with the idea of a mother daughter relationship, where I could explore the horrors of how your imagination can be both your best friend and your worst enemy at such a tender age. I also wanted to delve into themes of parenting and the struggles of wanting to find a balance between being a "cool" parent and being an overprotective one. I'm not a parent myself, but I can sympathize with how they may want to give their kid the freedom they desire, while also smothering them at times, fearing the what if's if they were to turn their head for just a second.

We started the day a little late after a speed bump. Our AD, Matt Gershowitz, got a flat tire upon arriving to the location, but championed through the obstacle by quickly replacing it with a spare and working in some time to get a new tire during our lunch break. Principle photography began just after 9am. We pushed through the day with a skeleton crew of hardworking and lovely individuals, who all created an atmosphere that allowed me to thrive creatively as well as work through obstacles when they presented themselves.

One of the aspects of the shoot that none of us have had experience with prior, was shooting under water. Jeanette Sears (Director of Photography) and Christina (Producer) had the same thought in pre-pro to organize the shot list with the under water scenes last, as the lighting would be less affected as the sun changed. What I didn't account for was being down an HDMI, which Christina quickly thought to check my parents' television. We pulled the cable and used it to enable the monitor, but the amount of slack was minimal, as you can see in some of the pictures in the slideshow at the bottom.

Still, we worked with what resources we had, and pulled off a successful shoot! It was great to already have a working relationship with Jeanette as my DP, because when there were moments in the water where we couldn't use the monitor, I knew I could trust their judgement. I'd tell them to roll it three times and then go for playback as time became an issue. There were moments that it was tough to see the playback through the DiCAPac (underwater camera encasement) and when we were pressed for time, I'd give it a look over and have to make some quick decisions.

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When those restraints came into play with the addition of practical FX, that's when I knew we just needed to get as many takes as possible for options in the editing room. There were a lot of variables in achieving the image, even when something that will be on screen for the blink of an eye.

I was extremely happy with both of my actors. Colleen Slattery was an absolute pleasure to work with and Kaylin Hedges was a warrior, being in and out of the water so frequently can take much more of a toll on you than you'd initially think. Colleen would let me know if Kaylin or herself needed a break when I was focused on the monitor or making changes to the shot list, and having Kaylin's mother there to support and help out was essential to the work flow.

Through all the excitement and the chaos, I couldn't have asked for a better team to collaborate with. On this particular project, I not only had the aide of my film family, but my actual family. We shot in the backyard of my parents' house and they both did everything in their power to make it an enjoyable experience. I can't thank them enough for their love and hospitality.

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The film will soon enter post production, where I'll work closely with Matt (also editing the project) and a post sound designer. I'm currently looking for someone with experience in post sound mix/design/editing on a micro budget, as this film is heavily reliant on its soundscape. If you have any recommendations or inquiries, you can email me at rkramer47@gmail.com

Updates to come in the near future!

- Ryan

Queens World Film Festival Recap

Last week was the Queens World Film Festival, our favorite local fest and one of my (Christina's) favorite fests overall. We were lucky enough to have two shorts part of it this year, "Enough" and "Arm Bar." 

"Enough" screened Thursday night at Kaufman Astoria Studios as part of the #Women block. I'm usually a little skeptical of any block whose theme is just "women," as it usually implies it's the only block at the festival with films directed by women. But women directors were super represented all throughout the festival this year, and I was happy to see that my block featured 5 films unified by a kind of "women on the edge" theme - tackling struggles that don't specifically afflict women but were portrayed in nuanced ways that felt authentically and pointedly woman. The audience was small, only about 35 people, but not bad for 6pm on a weekday. And thankfully, the audience was engaged, with a well-run Q&A that artistically tackled the work. See the Q&A below. We cut out most of the other filmmakers' answers, as as to not spoil their films. But the discussion was great overall.

"Arm Bar" screened Sunday at the beautiful Museum of Moving Image theater in the Queens Corner block, which always closes out the festival and has the largest audience because it features 7 to 8 films all by Queens-based filmmakers. Usually the films are also all shot in Queens, but there were a couple in this lineup that weren't. It was a mixed bag but there were some some really excellent films in the mix. "Arm Bar" was super well received by the audience, with the brilliant Latresa Baker's gripping lead performance complimented during the Q&A. Watch the recap below. Again, we kept everyone's intro but only included Ryan's answers, so as to avoid spoilers for the other films. (Thanks QWFF volunteer Maggi Delgado for recording & sharing both videos.)

We hope to be back at Queens World with new work next year! Until then, our next screening will be at Blackbird in April with "Enough."