I loved that you had a considerations page! Seriously, can’t thank you enough for that. In the spirit of that transparency, here are some high level answers that we can chat further about.
Where are we shooting this and why?
The neutral space of a large studio or an aircraft hanger is a good call. My first instinct is that we should be shooting somewhere that allows us to take focus off our location and keep focus on our subjects, while still allowing that final group shot and enough space to shape the light the way we want— and possibly have a natural light source. The open door of a hanger, studio, or similar space provides that— so that type of location feels good on all fronts.
What techniques can we use to make this feel unlike other PSAs?
Our visual technique and unrelenting authenticity will really set this apart. For visuals, focusing on making sure we are staying contemporary in our technique… while making a bold choice that I have yet to see done in a PSA— I will go into this in the look section. For our authenticity, I think it’s simply just well prepped directing material— but also checking in with actors constantly to see how they feel about their own performance. Oftentimes it’s a two way street when it comes to a director working with actors on fictional material… But considering these veterans have that lived experience, I think checking in with them and making sure they feel solid is best practice.
How can we build drama and tension without being too intense?
I think drama and tension without being too intense is so often about what isn’t said or shown. We chatted about it on our call, but I really do believe silent and more quiet moments are really going to go a long way, rather than forcing conversation, over-exposition, or a boiling over of emotion. The battle that veterans face is often solitary and unsaid, I think using a reflection of that to create drama and tension is really powerful.
How do we keep it from feeling schmaltzy?
I believe this to be simple— we need to avoid result oriented filmmaking. Putting the cart before the horse with visuals, direction, performance, editing structure etc. only nets shallow work. We need to rigorously prep this, but allow for parts of the project to unfold on their own. Similarly to the CCCP PSA, we went in with a certain “script in mind” and made sure we got it on the day, but the final edit really changed once we landed on music and incorporating unexpected new moments that really stood out. If we had not prepared to have a change, we would have shoved a square peg through a round hole. That’s a recipe for schmaltz, and one we will avoid.
Who is the interviewer and how is their voice treated in the piece?
I believe I can speak on this in a couple different ways, and it’s something we should discuss together— but I think waiting to get a final answer from Adam is likely best practice here. At the end of the day, the story is about our veterans, so it doesn’t worry me that we are leaving room to pivot between a heavy involvement of a celebrity interviewer, or an approach that’s more subdued.