I friggin love soundtracks so I was super stoked to make dem sounds for Death in 4k and Cold Embers
Since I shot this project solo, I thought this picture was amusing because it’s me shooting me in a scene where I get shot by me.
First project for 4381 Productions
Narrative photography is not something I have dived into for the most part but I enjoyed it a lot through this little project.
Music: Say Something (instrumental) by A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera
Thank you to some dear friends who helped me out for this one!
All wrapped up on my end of the edit for Death in 4K. Organization is so important in the editing process and thanks to the fact that we shot entire scenes in nearly chronological order and keeping every video and audio file logged, I was able to move from one shot to the next without scrambling through the script or searching through every file until I found what was next. After using Final Cut for the past few semesters dating back to the first non-linear editing class I was in, I decided to switch over to Premiere Pro since I prefer editing on a PC rather than on a laptop and the switch was mostly seamless, thankfully a lot of these programs function about the same way so there wasn’t much of a learning curve. Editing has always been my preferred task on any project because of how rewarding it feels once you’ve puzzled everything together in a sequence and watch it play out like an actual movie, even if it can get a little tedious at times.
Pictured above is the reason I’m so annoyed today. The CAT excavator with a demolition tip, this bad boy can ruin any audio outside quite easily let me tell you. I had the misfortune of listening to audio clips with this recorded in the background and my eyes started to glaze over as a consequence. If you ever see one of these while filming just call it a day for the sound team and ADR the track later, you’re welcome for the advice.
I’ve been wanting to challenge my video-editing abilities more as of late, so I’ve resolved to edit my next few videos on either DaVinci Resolve or Final Cut Pro.
I actually used to edit most of my work through DaVinci Resolve, so editing through there is more like polishing off the rust to improve my editing, but there’s still a bit of a curve I need to overcome after using Premiere Pro for so long.
But for now, here’s my first timeline in DaVinci Resolve in over two years
After losing a production day due to a possible COVID-19 exposure, we shot a horror film in a total of 15 hours (two shoot days). This was my second time producing and Leandro Salazar’s second time directing, but his first true directing gig as he was directing solo. The crew was amazing and we all put our hearts and souls into pre-production and production work, so despite the setbacks and things out of control, the shoot itself went so smoothly and I’m so proud of everyone and to have gained this experience. This is definitely one of the most ambitious projects CoogTV has ever done, and I’m thankful for how much effort and care was put into this to ensure it was as professional and efficient as possible. The talent in the picture below is A1.
“My only clear memory is arriving. The rest is a blur. An absolute blur.”
It’s 1985: The push for gay rights feels stagnant. Aids is still “the gay plague,” ignored by the Reagan administration and taken seriously only in pockets of the U.S.. Slurs are commonplace, sexual education is limited, and, needless to say, it’s a difficult time to come out. It’s in this year that Desert Hearts (dir. Donna Deitch, 1985) is released – a criminally underseen American romance that deserves recognition for its craft, performances, tenderness, and defiance during a time of immense, sweeping homophobia.
The backdrop is Reno, Nevada, circa 1959: moments of silence on a dusty railroad are taken over by the distant squealing of tracks. A train saunters into the frame, crawling to a stop. Vivian (played by Helen Shaver) carefully steps off to see Frances (Audra Lindley), an older woman with a Southern charm, despite living in the Northwest. She’s arrived here to establish residency – after six weeks, this move will make her divorce swift. The distance, in theory, makes it less painful.
They set off in a truck to Frances’ guest ranch, where Vivian is staying before she finalizes the split. On the ride there, a dot forms on the desert horizon further down the road: a car speeds down the opposite side of the highway and jolts at their side, switching to reverse. Cay (Patricia Charbonneau) drives alongside them, backwards, shouting niceties at Frances and taking a welcome note of Vivian.
Vivian’s presentation and personality are a stark contrast to her new surroundings. She’s an English professor from the New York North – her demeanor is suited, her attitude tact and proper. Straight-laced and decidedly straight. Throughout her time on the ranch, she doesn’t shy away from letting the emotional weight of her marital affairs be known. Still, she refuses to be vulnerable.
On the other hand, Cay wears her heart on her sleeve; she projects herself the way she likes, sleeps with whoever she wants (men, women, and swingers alike), and says what she means. She recognizes the loneliness in Vivian and becomes fixated on the idea of seducing her. The relationship between the two blossoms as they grow closer together, through cracked smiles and whip-smart dialogue (“I won’t take off my robe.” “Well, we all have to draw the line somewhere.“)
The chemistry on display here is intoxicating. Whenever Vivian lets go and loses herself in Cay, it’s mind-melting. It’s like the film freezes and they’re each left entirely alone – individualized, seen through each other. It’s so cathartic that it feels like voyeurism.
This becomes the place – in each other’s arms, away from their surroundings (though Cay would be much more content if they acted outwardly and held it on their sleeves). The two continue to meet. Frances inevitably catches wind of their relationship: “You people,” “sinning,” and “never understand it” are thrown around willingly, and Vivian’s time on the ranch, along with her relationship to Cay, is put in jeopardy. Cue the rest of the film.
While watching, it becomes apparent that there isn’t much support in their surroundings. The men are a negative presence entirely. Every man we encounter feels like an obstacle – the closest we get to a positive contribution is one half of a couple that Cay has sex with, who, bare minimum, genuinely listens to what the two have to say after asking about their lives. Otherwise, they leer, judge, and treat the two like objects. None have good intent in their interactions; they all assume that they exist for them.
Later on in the film, Vivian walks up to a gambling table at the casino where Cay works. Immediately, she’s pulled in by a wealthy, stump-nosed man who wants to “teach her the game.” She wins; he tries to congratulate her with a kiss. Cay, while tending the slot machines, is grabbed at, touched, and catcalled. At home, Vivian is pursued unconsentingly in her own room by Frances’ son. The family she stays with is judgmental and openly critical. Support is only found in smaller spaces from other women.
In the Casino locker rooms, Cay and her best friend Silver (Andra Akers) recount the long work days and make a point to check in with each other. Solace, still, is limited – the two work under the thumb of a male manager who constantly ogles his femme coworkers and continuously pursues Cay. Wherever they go, they’re bothered. Their existence and expectations are held to heteronormativity. Their only escape is in private. The relationship that forms between Vivian and Cay feels genuinely defiant and sacred.
This is an intimate story of love painted across rolling, dusty hills and pink sunsets, driven by a need for self-discovery. A film emblematic of both its time and now, Desert Hearts showcases the difficulty of projecting oneself openly and acting as you are in a heteronormative environment. The complexity and tenderness of its characters are served graciously through the film’s meditative pace and the curated words that Cay and Vivian share with one another. It’s bonkers how well everything works together and how such complexity is found in something that, on paper, is straightforward.
The context of its release as an explicitly queer narrative emboldens what is already a fantastic film. Desert Hearts is a dream worth your time – and if the rawness of its romance isn’t enough, the smiles, timelessness, and sparse Nevadian scenery absolutely will be.