An Interview with Filmmakers Lucien Flores & Michela M. Smith about ‘Sherwin and The Scout’
Written by NewEnglandFilm.com | Posted by: Anonymous
What began as a student project became a festival hit… Here, Lucien Flores and Michela M. Smith talk about their short film Sherwin and the Scout.
When did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker?
Lucien Flores: There wasn’t one moment where I realized that I wanted to be a filmmaker. I took a few courses at New York Film Academy in high school and had a lot of fun coming up with stories and shooting them. When I was looking at colleges, I considered your typical non-film educations but eventually decided to go to Boston University for film. I flirted with switching to journalism early in my BU career but quickly realized how much more I enjoyed making films and television. I still greatly enjoy writing music, film, and arts articles but there’s something unique and special about watching your final film projects after all the work of writing, directing, and editing is over.
Boston University provides a great film education and there are many professors and classmates who pushed me to become better. Of course, you can’t only learn filmmaking in the classroom environment though and need to pursue the craft outside of school as well. I’m still learning something new on every project that I work on.
Michela M. Smith: I’ve always made films – and always wanted to make more films. But my career path was cemented when I recognized that films are always my default: for conversation, for excitement, for boredom. I love film much more than anything else.
I attended Boston University’s Film/TV program with a concentration in production.
What inspired you to make your film?
Flores: Co-writer and cinematographer Michela M. Smith and I had long talked about writing a film together. I was loosely thinking about the ways people might behave knowing the end of the world is near while Michela was intrigued by a character who could never enjoy life. After many brainstorms, outlines, and drafts, the story changed dramatically and the movie ended up being the story of a recluse and an owl scout coming together in an unlikely friendship.
Smith: Visually, Lucien and I were inspired by the films we were watching at the time and many of them had contradictory styles! We tried to integrate unorthodox framings inspired by Get Carter, The Graduate, and The King’s Speech with an idiosyncratic production design, such as those seen in Wes Anderson films.’
Where has the film been shown?
Flores: Sherwin and the Scout has also competed in the 2014 Boston Student Film Festival and at the 2014 Arlington International Film Festival in September.
The best part about watching films with audiences is when you can tell they’re enjoying the film and are engaged with the story. The biggest compliment I can receive after a screening is when someone tells me they liked the story. It’s a simple compliment but it means a lot.
Smith: Watching your film with an audience is often terrifying not only because you’ve devoted so much of your time and energies into the project, but because as a film lover yourself, you know how critical audiences can be.
That said, when a moment that you invented in pre-production, implemented in production, and tailored in post-production actually works in a screening, it’s an amazing feeling.’
How did you find your cast and crew for this film?
Smith: As Sherwin and the Scout began as a class project, every crew member was a student of Boston University, which added a really fantastic energy to the set!
Flores: We found the actors through a combination of recommendations and open casting. Patrick Fahey, Jordan Cassel, and Alex Shih all showed up for a casting call (through Boston University Casting) and blew us away. We reached out to Christian Goodwin after being impressed by his performance in Megan Lovallo’s Off To The Races and we brought on Ben Manoli after a recommendation by a friend.
What are you working on now?
Smith: Last month, I travelled to Beijing as part of the “Looking China” program to make a short documentary on love in China. I’m currently in post-production on this film, entitled Liu Lu Love, which I hope will show the intricacies on a topic we often see as universal.
In addition, I’m about to edit the feature-length version of The Boston Globe’s 5 Runners, a documentary on the 2013 Boston Marathon. I was the associate producer and additional camera on the 30-minute version we aired on NESN in April 2014.
Flores: I was fortunate go to Beijing through the “Looking China” program (co-sponsored by Boston University) and made a short documentary on ice hockey called Rink Rats Beijing that is currently in post-production. I’m looking for a home for the film when it’s done and I’m hoping it will lead to more opportunities to make short docs and sports pieces.
A few friends and I made a short sci-fi comedy for the 48 Hour Film Festival in NYC called Plutoed that we’re prepping for the festival circuit. It won “Best Directing” at the screening and we want to share it. Before that, I made a short drama film about an office grunt called A Working Man that I also want to submit to festivals.
Any advice on making films you want to share?
Flores: Never force the script. If something doesn’t work in the script, it will rarely work in the final edit. Furthermore, don’t be afraid to cut things out or re-imagine them when piecing together the final cut.
Don’t get too discouraged in the process. It may not feel as if you’re getting a lot of work done each day but keep chipping. Casting, locations, crew, costumes, and everything else all has a way of working out in the end, even if it’s not what you originally planned.
Lastly, remember that filming is simply picking up things that are actually happening on camera.
Smith: While it took me a while to embrace, you should really write what you know. It often feels silly to be ordinary, but the truth in your experiences is what will resonate with others because they are ordinary too. You have to trust in that reality.
See www.lucienflores.com and www.michelasmith.com for more information on the filmmakers. Watch Sherwin and the Scout here: http://www.newenglandfilm.com/festival/2014/sherwinandthescout