Maybe you read his article ranking The Fast and the Furious films or his review of the movie Split. Either way, contributor Adam Cray is part of the AiPT! family. And when a family member accomplishes something, we celebrate them!
You see, when Adam isn’t contributing to AiPT!, he’s making films. His latest, Safe Distance, will premiere online June 3 at 12 p.m. PST, with a cast and crew Q&A to follow. In anticipation of the online event, I sat down with Adam to learn a little more about his latest project.
AiPT!:OK, what’s the elevator pitch for Safe Distance?
Adam Cray: You’ve been living side by side the last few years with New England’s most dangerous hitman. A few minutes ago, your deep cover was blown and he shot you in the shoulder. Now you’re both in the cold woods alone. No living soul for miles. No more bullets in your pistol. What do you do?
AiPT!: How long did the entire project take, from the initial idea to the finished product?
AC: Less than 24 hours from script to final shot. I wrote a single page and sketched out some storyboards on a Saturday night and we filmed it the very next morning from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. And that was with a 45-minute lunch break. No reshoots or pick-up shots.
Post-production could have taken a few weeks, but went for a few months. My wife and I just moved into a new house so we were unpacking, getting acclimated to new surroundings, etc. I also work a day job and juggle various creative projects including a web anthology and a sequel novel to my book Last Seen.
AiPT!: What inspired you to make this film?
AC: It all started with my friend Lance calling me to say, “Let’s film something when you come East for Christmas!” Lance Gunberg is a local New Bedford, Massachusetts, filmmaker and an amazing collaborator. So I never turn down the opportunity to make a movie, especially with him! We also had access to two cameras, tripods and sound equipment from New Bedford Cable Access, so for me it was a no-brainer.
I originally wrote a short script for my young nephew to act in and I based it in the woods behind my family home. Growing up, my room had always faced the woods, so it inspired my imagination from the time I was 4 years old up until my early 20s. But the day before filming my nephew decided that he was no longer interested, so I considered calling things off.
Instead, I quickly penned a different story that could still be based in the woods. I called my actor buddy Jonathan Hart who I had met through James Franco’s Studio 4 acting school. Jon lives back and forth between Los Angeles and Providence, Rhode Island, and he just happened to be home for the holidays. So before I could finish asking him to work with us, Jon said “YES!”
Lance Gunberg and Adam Cray.
AiPT!: If you had to compare Safe Distance to any existing films, what would those films be?
AC: As far as aesthetics, I had in mind some of the low-budget 1970s grindhouse films and Spaghetti Westerns. I also love the gritty crime thrillers from the 1970s and early 1980s. Films like The French Connection, The Conversation, The Mechanic, Night Hawks, Cruising. I wanted to channel the vibe of these raw urban crime thrillers and transpose it into an eerie rural environment with endless woods … and an unexpected twist.
AiPT!: Besides you, who else contributed their talents to the film?
AC: In addition to Jon, my friend Lance agreed to produce with me and also run primary camera. My mother Catherine Davis helped us with behind-the-scenes footage as well as all other production assistance. For the shots where Jonathan was alone and had his majority of dialogue, I filmed on a second camera so we could catch his improvisation from two angles. His footage was golden and took me longer to finalize because all of the takes were winners!
After I edited a rough cut, I met with Los Angeles-based composer Brandon Moore to show him the film. We’d been friends for a while and I was waiting for the right project and opportunity to work him. I had temp music on the cut so he could get an idea of the tone I was looking for. Brandon ended up creating something similar, but with his own flavor and way beyond my expectations!
AiPT!: Where else can readers find your work online?
AC: I’m in the process of compiling my work over the years, but the quickest way to access my earlier work is on Facebook at Cinemastar Productions’ page. My novel Last Seen is also available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
AiPT!: What’s next for SD following the premiere?
AC: The short film might be broadcast on New Bedford Cable Access. As we enter it into festivals, I’m outlining a concept for a Safe Distance feature film.
Ten years ago, my novel Last Seen was birthed from a spontaneous short film shoot similar to Safe Distance. I have projects that I’ve been chipping away at for years, but these two projects have taught me a lesson. Sometimes it’s about just throwing a weird abstract idea on the table and seeing what grows from it.
Didn’t get your invite to the world premiere of Safe Distance Saturday June 3, 2017 at 12 p.m. PST? Don’t worry, here’s the link to the Facebook event!