Join Ashley Kennedy for an in-depth discussion in this video A conversation with writer/director/editor Jason Hallows, part of Filmmaking Forum: Scene Analysis.
- Jason, thank you so much for screening that scene for us. I'm looking forward to learning a little bit more about your work with this film. You wrote, you directed, you edited this film Can you give us an idea of how you came up with the idea? And what story you wanted to tell here with The Last Broadcast. - It was just one of those random ideas that pops in to your head. I had a friend that was going through a breakup, and I was listening to him talk about it, and it was as if he was experiencing, it was the end of the world for him.
And I remember after he left the conversation I thought, the end of the relationship really does feel like the end of the world and it really does feel like it's all crumbling and there's nothing that's going to be left. And I emailed that to myself. I said, I emailed myself the end of a relationship is like the apocalypse. But it's not. And it's, life continues after that. And when you get far enough away, it all looks kind of silly to you. But you've always grown from it.
So when I went to write it, I sat down and I really thought about that idea. And I love the radio, especially old radio and stuff, and I really started thinking about this story. And I had this other idea about making a story about a radio DJ, a graveyard radio DJ, and I just kind of merged those two things and I thought how perfect would this be? A heartbroken DJ in the middle of the night, with nobody telling him to shut up, spewing his emotional baggage out over the air.
Only it really does end up being that maybe the world is coming to an end, just as his relationship has come to an end. And we can experience that and see what that's like. So I wrote probably three or four different drafts of it, some longer, some shorter. There was some, there was a lot of elements in there. And it took a lot of time to edit a lot of things out of it. There was all kinds of characters and stuff that didn't make the final cut. But yeah, and when we went and did it, it was the first time, I would probably say it was one of the first times I've ever made a movie where it looks exactly like it looked in my head.
Where I watched it and every scene is what I wanted it to be. And there wasn't a lot of goofing around and trying to find shots and stuff because the location was so perfect and the acting was so perfect. Our crew all just gelled really quickly. And when I watched it again, I just kept thinking man, what an awesome short film. What a great short film. You know, how's that for modesty? - I agree, I really, really enjoyed it.
I think for a lot of different reasons. I want to talk a little bit about the tone and the structure. Its very lonely, very solitary. You have this underlying edge of okay, the world is ending, but it's also like this guys' personal story. And so you have these two story lines starting fairly quickly. In the scene we just watched, you know the first five minutes of this film, you get to know them both, one and then right after the other.
You find out that his girlfriend broke up with him, and then we get a taste of what's happening outside. Maybe. So I'm just wondering, what was it like to get the audience invested in both of those story lines right off the bat? How did you use that to add to that, that dark, edgy mood, that defined the entire film? - One of my personal rules for short film making is I love to create a very big world very quickly but, confining it to some very small locations.
I think when you do that, it helps the drama of the situation and it enables you to get people invested very quickly. And as far as that goes, I remember sitting in the theater watching it for the first time at a film festival. Everybody was quiet when he ran outside, and they saw that streak fly through the sky and the explosion off in the distance and then the other one. And we do that awesome Spielberg push in on Craig as we come in.
Everybody seemed to feel what what I felt when I wrote it. And that's like, oh man. This is a terrible day for this guy. - And I think another part of the mood that's established is accomplished through sound scape? You have him speaking, you also have music. Like perfectly matched with everything that he's thinking and saying. And it goes throughout the whole thing. You kind of have those, those two things that are just working together perfectly.
So can you talk about, was this what you heard when you were writing the script? Was it something that was developed through production and post-production? Talk about the sound scape for me. - The sound scape for The Last Broadcast was intentional from the get-go. There was an artist named Harlan T. Bobo that I was obsessed with this album. And I kept listening to it while I was writing the story. And he had so many elements in his songs that kind of fit the mood and the tone of the piece that I was writing.
So when I actually contacted his record label and got permission to use the music, it just made it so perfect. There's so many perfect moments that aren't accidental where you take Harlan's lyrics and you space them in between Craig's pauses so you can get a lyric through Craig's natural speaking beats. - So I took everything. Including your chance for rebuttal. ♫ Coming down ♫ - You're so good.
Too good at talking me out. ♫ You holding me ♫ - Of things. ♫ Holding you ♫ - But I have to go, baby. I have to go for a long time. ♫ Do you think that's ♫ - I'll always love you. You know I will. I'll never forget you. ♫ Think that's so fast ♫ - Goodbye forever. - And the lyric has something to do with what he's saying. Or a mood, or a thought that he might be having. And it kind of they parallel each other so perfectly. It's so strange.
But it does, it underscores the mood and the tone of the film so well. - Definitely. You know you talked a little bit about the production, but I'm wondering, the shoots itself, but can you talk about your crew and the communication you had with them and your main character and the communication that you had with him in making it all come together. - With The Last Broadcast and getting the crew on board and talking about a look that I was going for and the tone that I was going for with my crew was easy because at this point I've made a lot of short films and I use the same crew for the most part.
We'll have switching guys here and there but I work with a director of photography named Aron Ives and he and I, we've known each other for such a long time and we love working with one another. And we're able to communicate almost effortlessly now. First of all, I mean when I send him a story, he can already see what I'm looking at, because he knows the style and the movies that I love, and he knows the things that I study, and we talk about movies that we like, or don't like a lot, but I always have a good time working with the crew and I don't think I've really ever had a difficult time working with the crews that I've put together, just because we're all looking, we're all film lovers, and we're all looking for the same thing, and that's to create something cinematic and exciting and fun for people to watch.
- And then with your star, your actor, can you talk about directing Craig? - Directing Craig Welzbacher is an easy process. He brings a lot, and that's why I love to work with him. He takes it very seriously, he internalizes the dialogue and the story and he has a process that he does and he goes home and he connects the story to emotional things in his own life so he can emote and bring that stuff to life. The directing relationship with Craig is that I tell him the mood that I'm looking for, the tone that I'm looking for, and certain levels of looseness.
I don't like a lot of ad-libbing, I don't like going off, but I do like good ideas. There's a scene in The Last Broadcast where he makes an origami swan out of the breakup note that his girlfriend gave him. That was all Craig. It really is a nice element to that scene, but he was learning origami at the time, and he said I would really like to incorporate some of this in a character. Maybe this guy just likes doing origami.
He knows how to make a swan, he just makes one. It just worked out perfectly that it had something to do with the love note, and I said, yeah do it. We'll shoot it, if it doesn't work, I have another pink piece of paper, and we'll just write another love note and shoot it another way. But I said do it. The second I saw him do it, and the second I saw the camera work and I was watching the monitor, and I saw what I could cut together, I loved it. But that's how Craig and I work together. He's willing to make changes if I ask for them, and I'm willing to accept his ideas if he has them.
- And then is there anything you'd like to say about the editing process for this film? - It was actually a very easy edit process, just because well, there was a set of sort of fairly basic, but effective and I knew that I had everything, so the editing process, I think I actually cut the whole thing in just two days or something. The special effects shot with the stuff coming down, that was probably one of the trickier shots just because we were shooting on the campus, and off in a distance in that direction, is the campus, so there is buildings all over.
So we had to go in and digitally erase all the buildings and everything, make the little cityscape underneath in the black, make the fireball and the explosions and all that kind of stuff. But that's the kind of stuff, that's just all vision. You can look at, if you know your post-production, you know what you're capable of. You can look at a place like that and go well I love this arch, I love the way we can frame him here, if there's a way that I can erase all this and put a city in there, can I do that? Oh yes, I can totally do that.
And not everybody gets it when you're shooting, sometimes people on set, sometimes you'll have a gaff or somebody going, uh I don't think this is going to work and you just have to have confidence and trust in yourself that you can do it, and you can probably pull it off. - Well thank you so much for telling us so much about this film, Jason. Can you tell our viewers where they can go watch it? - You can watch The Last Broadcast on my website, at transitoryzenith.com. It's up there with a bunch of other shorts, I don't put all of my shorts up there, I kind of cycle them through with my favorites for this six month stretch.
I do change those out from time to time. Watch it there. And if you like it, email me and tell me.