You date, you break up, you get together with someone new. It’s the life cycle of dating and the source of countless films from the very beginning of the medium. So why did I make a film about it?
When I was younger my family watched a lot of romantic comedies, which meant I watched a lot of romantic comedies. Something that always bothered me was the speed that the two characters, whoever they were, would get together, break up, and get back together because they were just so perfect for each other.
Last summer, I came across the film Paris, Je T’aime. It is a collection of 18 short films produced by some of the most famous directors of the time. Each features the story of a couple or family going through different issues. It was the most realistic depiction of relationships I had seen on film, and it inspired me. I knew I needed to produce a film for my senior capstone project, and I wanted to do something relevant to millennials.
The script for Nice Guy was born from my desire to see a romantic comedy/drama play out in unpredictable ways. Noah, the protagonist, is a stereotypical “nice guy.” His entire identity is made up of the romantic relationships he’s in. The opening scene presents a unique challenge for him when his long-time girlfriend breaks up with him. He meets Jo, a bartender, and they quickly hit it off. Through this rebound, Noah has to confront his paranoia and fear.
I was lucky enough to produce this film in association with another Communications course I was taking this semester: Advanced Production. This allowed me to be more ambitious with the length and scope of the project because I would be working with a full crew instead of trying to do everything myself. It freed me to be able to work with actors and cameras instead of slates and boom-poles.
Over the course of production, due to availability of locations, we had to extend our shooting days. We filmed 52 scenes over the course of 7 total days. We were lucky to have two incredibly actors, Kris Young and Kaitlyn Lamkin, play in the leading roles. Both have extensive theater experience, but this was the first time they have acted for the screen.
When I wrote the script, I knew that we would need to keep things as simple during production as possible, so I limited the locations in the script to 5. Two were houses (mine and my sister-in-law’s), another was the Domestic in downtown Shepherdstown. We were able to use the offices of the Picket on campus for our office scenes. The last location was Morgan’s Grove park.
With the film being longer than anything I’ve worked on before, I knew that the post-production process would need to run parallel to production. We would shoot scenes and I would start cutting the scenes together that night.
I used the Adobe Creative Cloud for all of post-production. I cleaned up the audio and mastered in Audition and the rest of the editing took place in Premiere Pro.
The post-production process was a huge time-sink for me. There were days I spent 8+ hours on editing to meet deadlines and have the film completed. I learned that organization is just as important in your digital workspace as in your physical. Making sure I had bins in Premiere for every shooting day, along with separate bins for audio and video, separated by scene, made my life exponentially easier when trying to organize the clips into the final film.
Although I’ve directed other short films, this was the first time that I was working with a full crew. As stated above, it made my life a lot easier, but it also presented new challenges. In all of my other films I have starred in them, so my focus was split between directing and acting. Since I only played a small role in this film, it allowed me to focus completely on directing not just the actors, but the crew as well.
My journey in film started as an actor. I used to act in theater when I was younger and began acting in short films during my time in college. My interest pivoted to the things happening behind the camera, and I was lucky to have a talented director show me the ropes. Four years of both educational and independent learning later, I found myself in the same position as the director that mentored me.
A lot of the crew hadn’t worked on sets before, or at least on a project as long and involved as this one, so I had the unique opportunity of teaching people how to set up lights, capture audio, and run a slate. This was one of the highlights of producing Nice Guy. Not only was I able to bring my vision to the screen, but I was able to help teach people how film sets work and operate in the process.
I went into this experience wanting to have a short film completed, and with a big sigh of relief I can say that is a reality. Clocking in at 35 minutes, this is the longest film I’ve ever produced and even though there are things that I would change about it, I read a long time ago, just at the start of my filmmaking journey, that you need to be okay with imperfection. The things that stand out and make you wince about your own projects are going to be the things that you get right in the next project.
This experience was invaluable to me as a filmmaker and a student.
Without further ado, I present Nice Guy.
You can see more of my work on my professional portfolio.