A High School Student-Led Project
By Heidi Swan
Ethan Nahlinder, Director
Reaching teenagers has always been the goal of this story. I was thrilled when the award-winning high school-aged director, Ethan Nahlinder, showed interest in directing a short film of it. For more on the backstory of the film please read this article from our local paper: The Daily Breeze.
When we initially decided to go into production, Ethan was in the middle of his Sophomore year of high school. Our window to shoot the film was early summer.
Finding locations presented its own challenge because we needed a really good price (free). Along with our Production Assistant, Caroline Alley, Ethan and I met with Redondo Beach Police Sgt. Mike Snakenborg to request the use of the police station for filming. We were so happy when Sgt. Snakenborg agreed to let us get some shots there. He was on set the night we filmed and even made a brief appearance (when our main character was brought in to be booked). Lucky for our film crew, it was a quiet night at the police station (except for one disorderly person who was repeatedly trying to turn themselves in to be arrested).
The location for the jail cell was not so easy to find. We tried to find a local space which was empty: a storefront, the garage of a home for sale. We considered my own garage but it had two cars in it and it was full of supplies, bikes and boxes. Ethan and I spent a couple of months scouting but didn’t find any would work. We realized my garage was our only choice.
Ethan and his dad went to work. They bought materials and precisely measured my garage. Their weekends and holidays were spent in their back yard building the cell bench, walls, door and window into the guard’s station. Ethan’s dad found a grey toilet for free on Craig’s List and picked it up from a nice lady’s front yard. When Ethan wasn’t studying for school or working on the set, he was story boarding.
Several days prior to the shoot date, I had to clean out my garage (yikes) to make room for the jail cell. It was good for our family to purge some items we didn’t need. One of my neighbors let me store our bikes in their much cleaner and emptier garage. Two days prior filming, Ethan and his dad brought their set over and set it up. They attached the walls to our ceiling and floors, adjusted our light, did some caulking and touch up painting .It fit exactly as they measured it. It looked just like a jail cell. We were amazed. Our friends, family and neighbors were amazed.
My friends, Sue & Robin, loaned us a table and chairs where we set up our food right there inside the garage.
We shot on nights and weekends over the course of several days. It was busy and a lot of fun and far less cramped then I expected. My neighbors were supportive and put up with us taking up extra parking spaces and hanging out in the driveway where we took breaks and did make up. We also tried to be considerate: one night when it was getting late, we were preparing to shoot a particularly loud scene. We realized we would likely disturb my neighbors so we wrapped for the night and came back a couple days later (an added benefit of using your own home).
When filming was complete, we had to take down the cell. We were all a little sad about it. I tried to convince my husband we could park one of our cars outside. I pointed out how the set would make a nice, permanent, addition to our garage. He didn’t go for it. In only a few hours, Ethan’s dad and brother, Christopher, had taken down the cell. It was permanently gone and my garage was no longer a space bustling with creativity. It was just a garage with two cars, bikes and a lot less boxes.
We’re entering this film into festivals. Check back here for festival screenings!
Sunscreen Film Festival West
End Credits Song
|Director and Producer||Ethan Nahlinder|
|Writer and Producer||Heidi Swan|
|Executive Producer||Joe Swan|
|Director of Photography||Will Dobak|
|Production Designer||Anders Nahlinder|
|Production Assistants||Caroline Alley and Christofer Nahlinder|
|Artists||Caroline Alley, August Thompson, and Giovanni Wang|
|Music Composer||Connor Swan Smith|
|Officer Beef||Jess Moss|
|Officer #1||Mike Snakenborg|
|Officer #2||Breyon Burk|