Written and Directed by Shayna Connelly
"Gardening at Night" was my first collaboration with director Shayna Connelly. The film follows a character over the course of one night as she waits for news of her dying friend. She's alone in a new home and the crushing silence that surrounds her is becoming suffocating. This film was a departure from the mainstream continuity approach to filmmaking and a gentle invitation back into the abstraction of experimental.
We didn't want the photography to draw too much attention to itself, so lighting, sound and art would carry much of the story telling. Our exposure profile was relatively standard, with just slight under exposure of skin tones. The character is in a new home and much of the space is relatively new to her and empty. We wanted to draw attention to this emptiness by laying bare as much of the space as we could and using it to block her in, which meant staying on the deep end of the lens. Many scenes were shot at T8 to maximize our depth of field without running into defraction.
Our camera package was an Epic-X and Canon K35 primes. Typically I refrain from shooting deep with modern digital cinema cameras, but the K35s are slightingly soft, even at T5.6, with creamy contrast so I bypassed diffusion and had a standard filtration package of neutral density and circular polarizer.
The early scenes in the film are punctuated by building tension as the weight of being alone and waiting for news while separated by her dying friend grows. The sound builds and we follow that sound by slowly pushing on the character. The location only just allowed for the use of a Chapman Hybrid, which facilitated the slow and steady movement. For smaller moves or those in tight spaces we used a Dana Dolly and speed rail.
My takeaway from this project was when to recognize opportunities for further abstraction and experimentation. If your premise is sound and you stay consistent, then the audience will understand what you're doing.