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FLASHLIGHT Diary #1: "Let's Make a Movie!"

It all started with a simple text: "I'm coming back East and we are finally going to make a film!"

That's a bit of paraphrasing but the message was clear - after years of collaborating on scripts and scores, my buddy Justen Patrick Lander and I were finally going to make a movie together. The timing was finally right and the impetus palpable. Excitement was in the air, plans were made... and then everything went belly up.

A brief pause for some history here. My mother introduced me to Justen circa 2014 when she was working as a supporting actor on his short film AMERICAN STANDARD. He was looking for someone to score the film and my mother suggested me. We immediately hit it off, sharing the same passions and sensibilities when it came to filmmaking and music scores. Fast friends. The film was a joy to work on, garnered some good reviews and exposure and a partnership was born. Unfortunately, it wasn't too long after that life called Justen west to California where he spent the ensuing years raising his daughter and pursuing various jobs in Hollywood. But we stayed in touch and I was an enthusiastic reader and supporter of his script ideas as well as contributor to a couple more short film scores. But distance and circumstances prevented us from working on a major project together.

Then, as that ghastly 2020 rolled over into a more promising 2021, I got the text that Justen had an exciting new feature-length script, the perfect location to shoot it and the conviction and drive to make it... right here in Berks County, PA. One cross-country drive and joyous reunion later, we were ready to take the plunge. Called THE NINE KNOCKS, it would be an ambitious single-location shoot that would demand all our energy and skills to bring to life. And then, like I said, the wheels came off. Or, more to the point, we lost our location... and pretty much the entire reason for making the film.

So that was a blow. And it was a good couple weeks of soul-searching and rethinking before the wind was able to fill our sails again. But they did billow once more - Justen came up with an exciting new idea that would take us beyond a single location (and after a year of pandemic isolation, that seemed more than prudent) and open our film up to all the beauty and history that Berks has to offer. New script, new title, new cast - it was falling into place at a confident and exciting pace. FLASHLIGHT was born!

It's been a whirlwind couple of months since as we've started wrapping our arms and heads around the logistics of getting this beast off the ground. It's a big film with big ideas but it's not an epic scale - the power is in its intimacy. The goal is to shoot it with minimal crew and production but to make every moment on screen ambitious and beautiful. Justen is a passionate and skilled director and cinematographer - I know what he wants to achieve and my job is to do everything possible in whatever capacity necessary to help him succeed. Hell, I'll even fetch his coffee - unless it's some vegan hippy nonsense. He HAS been in California for awhile.... LOL

At the moment we're knee-deep in pre-production and all that entails: fine-tuning the script, scouting locations, putting our equipment 'wish lists' together, looking for our 'hero vehicle' and that bane of all indie filmmakers - looking for financing. A million things to do, all of them exciting. It's easy to say that these moments are all part of the 'salad days' of making a film, when everything seems possible. And that's true to a certain extent. But I know that once we get really rolling and the "Record" button gets pushed, the fun and adventure will REALLY begin, and in earnest.

So stay tuned as I intend to post regularly about the evolution of our first feature together. It's gonna be great and I can't wait to share it with you! And now, please excuse me while I get back to exploring musical ideas for the film - never too early to flex those creative muscles! Cheers!

Please check out Justen's website here:


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