A Short Film (~15 Minutes)
Coming Fall 2017
Introduction by David Lykes Keenan, Writer/Director
It's 1982, Marsh is 24 years old, and he struggles with a tormenting secret. One night, he crosses paths with Rivers, a stranger so striking that Marsh is instantly smitten. Marsh pursues Rivers until an opportunity presents itself for him to take the boldest risk of his life.
Bodies of Water is a simple story of a young man isolated from the rest of humanity by profound shame and his fear of absolute rejection. It's about love at first sight. It's about seizing the moment.
It's about overcoming one's fears to reach out to another human being. It's about longing for acceptance and the possibility of love.
As the filmmaker, I hesitate to call this a "gay film". Yes, Marsh is gay but the young man he ultimately meets and who is poised to change his life, may or may not be. (This is left for the audience to decide.) Marsh's struggle of loneliness, isolation, and his desire for a genuine human connection is universal.
Ellar Coltrane will play Marsh. The world watched Ellar grow up before its eyes, literally, in the award-winning film Boyhood. He is emerging as one of the brightest young actors of his generation. Ellar and I have known each other for eight years. We have forged a strong friendship and a unique bond which we will dig into to find the emotional core of the film.
We are partnering with ProductionForUse, a film production company founded by Louis Black, one of the most influential individuals in Austin. Louis is co-founder of both the Austin Chronicle weekly newspaper and the massively successful SXSW festivals. He and his company bring important expertise and connections to the project.
The look and tone I have in mind for Bodies of Water will be strongly influenced by Tom Ford's A Single Man. Thematically the stories are similar -- but more importantly, Ford's film beautifully captures visually both George's (Colin Firth) inner world and the time period of the 1960's.
If there is a single short film that has inspired me, it is The Stutterer which won the Academy Award for best short film in 2016. It reveals the inner struggles of its main character in a very charming and sympathetic way. The audience pulls for Greenwood (Matthew Needham) from almost the first frame and shares his emotional journey. I wish for them to relate to Marsh in a similar, loving way.
Another major influence, is the 1971 Italian film Death in Venice which lushly captures one man's obsession using virtually no dialogue. There is an element of obsession in Bodies of Water -- therefore, I have asked Ellar to study Dirk Bogarte's performance and asked Amy Bench, our director of photography, to study the cinematography of Pasqualino De Santis.
The story of Bodies of Water began as concept for a feature length film over two years ago. Ellar has been in the loop of story development from the very beginning. As time went on, it became evident that a short film pulled from the beginning of the longer story was a more appropriate starting point. Now, more than 26 drafts later, the script of Bodies of Water is ready.
My relationship with ProductionForUse began with one of the early drafts of the script when it was read by Suzanne Weinert, a consultant to ProductionForUse and the President of the Austin Film Society. Suzanne shepherded me through several revisions and, when we felt it was ready, she recommended that ProductionForUse and I partner to make the film.
Recently, I brought Tom Suhler into ZDTravis Films as a production partner. Tom has been involved in film in various capacities for many years and brings a great deal of experience to bear.
The film is currently in pre-production. Several roles have been cast, about half of the locations have been identified, preliminary budget and schedule have been prepared, and partial funding secured. So far, we have Amy Bench, an accomplished Director of Photography, and Rafaal Leloup, a talented Hollywood composer, committed to the production.
Shooting is tentatively set to take place over four days and we are aiming for this happen in late July or early August.
For a video introduction to the major artistic contributors to the project, visit here or watch below.
With questions or comments, please send an email.
Supporting Bodies of Water... Yes! You!
I am actively seeking financial backing for this project in exchange for access to the project (i.e., a visit to the set during filming) and/or a Producer or Executive Producer credit. Given the nature of small budget short films, I can't offer much else in return other than your warm, fuzzy feeling for being a part of a worthwhile project! To explore further, this send this email.