Over the span of nine days, 37 Elon University students ran around with cameras, props and actors, spending around 13 hours a day filming “Providence,” a short film written and directed by senior Kenner Clark.
Taking place in a rural college town in North Carolina, “Providence” follows four characters that become entangled in a crime of passion and explores how a deteriorating relationship reaches its breaking point in 36 hours.
The story focuses on James, who begins to suspect his girlfriend, Lydia, of cheating but chooses to fight for her and gets in over his head, ending in a horrible
“My inspiration for the movie is a combination of my time here at Elon over these last four years, and a lot of it is past relationships that have happened in my life, and it’s kind of a hyperbole to a lot of things that are personal,” Clark said. “It’s a cool reflection of that on a cinematic scale.”
Nine days of work
The filming began over Fall Break with a crew of students involved in camera, make up, set design and production. Additionally, as part of their $40,000 budget raised through crowdfunding, the “Providence” production team was able to hire professional electric, sound and special effect makeup teams.
Over the nine days, the crew worked to film in locations near campus including the restaurant The Mission, off-campus fraternity houses and Holt Chapel. Because “Providence” is a union film, they have to follow union rules and film 12 hours before a 12-hour break.
With a tight deadline, some shots and scenes needed to be sacrificed to stay on schedule.
“There’s things you can’t foresee,” said senior Bekah Richin, producer. “Of course there have been occasional hiccups, but everything has been fixed in a very timely manner.”
Senior Kenner Clark wrote and directed ‘Providence’ based on his experience at Elon University and personal life. Photo by Diego Pineda, Photo Editor.
The intensity of the filming required a lot of effort and late nights. Senior Bella Mazzola, unit production manager, said filming finished around 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. each day, and she would often stay up later packing up and sending out call sheets.
But she said members of the crew worked hard to fix things gone awry.
“Everyone I work with is so willing to overextend themselves,” Mazzola said. “A lot of the time, different production people — let’s say camera department — will help out with makeup. And the fact that we are able to do that is nice because we are tight on time.”
Mazzola has worked on professional sets before, so she knew it would be a time crunch, but she wasn’t as mentally prepared. Often times she was stressed with quick turnaround and problem solving, and said the schedule was never followed to a “T.”
For example, a scene would have 10 minutes left to shoot 12 shots, and Mazzola often had to decide what to sacrifice during filming. Though she had to buckle down with the crew, she said everyone was understanding.
“It has taught me so much not just about production, but my life in general,” Mazzola said. “Everyone on set has said, ‘If we can get through these nine days, we can get through anything.’”
Despite a tight schedule and long nights, Clark is happy with how the filming went.
“It’s had some high tension, but overall I think everyone’s really excited about the product, and the product is really coming on its own,” he said. “It’s amazing.”
For many students, this was their first time working a film of this length. Many got involved in positions they haven’t tried before. For example, this is Richin’s first time working as a producer.
“It’s been a huge learning experience because I’ve worked on professional sets, before, but never at Elon, and I’ve never produced,” Richin said. “Honestly, I didn’t know how to produce this movie until the day we started production.”
In addition to hiring professional crew members, Clark, Richin and senior Jonny Deaton, director of photography, also decided to hire professional actors with a casting call.
“For casting, we wanted to expand beyond the Elon student community, even though I think Elon students are incredibly talented,” Richin said. “We were like, ‘Let’s challenge ourselves. Let’s hire professional actors. We have the budget to do so.’”
After posting on websites such as Backstage and Actors Access, Richin and Clark had 40-50 actors audition from the state as well as from Los Angeles and New York City. This makes “Providence” a Screen Actors Guild film as well.
Production beyond filming
Work on the film goes beyond those nine days of filming. For about six months before the filming, 10 members of the head team was in pre-production, assembling a crew and going through the script page-by-page and line-by-line to assure it would be as tight as possible.
After 18 different revisions of the script finished in July, the film should be about 25-30 minutes.
They also discussed things such ascolor palettes for each character, how to accomplish the practical effects in the film and budget.
Now that the scenes have been shot, the post-production crew will be working to put the film together. The final product should be finished around May, but the “Providence” team will be working on editing, creating a trailer, crowdfunding and promoting the film, until then.
Once it’s complete, “Providence” will be entered into various film festivals before they are able to screen it for the Elon community, according to Richin.
Clark hopes the film will turn some heads and show what Elon students are capable of while getting audiences to think about how the world works in mysterious ways, a common theme in the film.
“I think that there’s this idea that objects work together and the idea that, if there’s a universal cosmos outcome of things that are meant to be, they’re meant to be, and if they’re not meant to be, the universe will tell you,” Clark said.