Dear Stranger

an extension of the short film "Dear Stranger" and its major thematic element: Fantasy


The "Dear Stranger" Song

Hear the Song
Those who have followed this blog will know I shot a music video recently for The Tourist a.k.a Hunter McDermott. During one of the downtimes we had, Hunter serenaded us with some songs. To say the least, it was quite moving. It is easy to forget how beautiful it is to have someone sing or perform for you. Anyways, after the shoot, Hunter emailed me a rough draft of a song that is based on Dear Stranger. I was flattered. It is quite beautiful.


The Process

It is an amazing how much time transpires before a 15 min film is completed. Around August 2004, I decided to make Dear Stranger and because I was moving to North Carolina at the end of September, I had very little time to prepare and shoot. Pretty much, I was shooting the day before I left. Once I landed in NC, I had work as an editor on a TV show which sucked time out of my life. It was not till June when I really started to edit Dear Stranger. Then I stopped editing because work caught up in November and December. I won't see the film till January where I will mix the sound and finally be done.

It makes me sad thinking about this. I like working fast because I want to keep pace with my ideas and projects when they are affecting me. I love the short format but it takes as long as a feature film. Well, not really but the length of production is not proportional to the length of the film. Do I keep making shorts or do I go ahead and plan the feature? One will happen (however long) and the other could never happen but if it did happen it could possibly be fulfilling in a way that I have never experienced before.



Is he still standing there?


Fantasy submitted by Anonymous #5

Does this classify as a fantasy? In person, I act and think as an atheist. But there are times where I find myself talking to God like it were all real. When I argue over the existence of God, I argue as an atheist (with no guilt whatsoever!). When I talk to God, however, there is no doubt in my mind whether there is someone listening. I don't ask for favoritism or anything fancy but just as a best friend who understands all the reasons why I do what I do.

- Submitted by Anonymous #5


Michael at Target

I was busy shooting a music video this weekend. Because of the rain in the Carolina's, the crew made a quick stop over at Target for umbrella's. While we were checking out, Hunter says "isn't that guy from Dear Stranger?" I look up and sure enough it is. Pretty Boy Michael Teh was hamming it up on a poster hanging overhead.

The Stranger is actually quite famous! If I had the time and energy, it would be fun to include a scene where Rosie sees the poster and is jealous. Rips down the poster, stomps on it, breaks into two, unsuccessfully tears it into pieces, and then proudly walks out the store. All this edited with jumpcuts of Target customers and staff who are scared to do anything but watch the mayhem.



Fantasy submitted by Anonymous #4

In my dreams there is a girl. She is a woman, but only technically. She is not jaded like others, or at least finds a place to hide it away. She finds a place to hide mine away, too. She has ideas and dreams loftier than mine that she speaks of endlessly but will most likely never achieve, instead spends her time knitting, watching movies, and making music. She paints. We talk a lot, all the time, and hours melt away, but we are never aware of ourselves during the conversation while it's happening. I am less aware of things in general, things that ruin themselves when they're realized. She loves the sky and orange leaves but doesn't feel sad when I can't find the beauty in them the same way she does. She lets me discover my own beauty. She is never cold and never allows coldness to enter my eyes. They speak volumes to her. She knows what bothers her about me and rolls her eyes. She isn't really bothered. I am the same way. She is tall, but not too tall. Tall enough so her forehead lines up with my lips when we stand together. She leans in slightly. She makes it easy on me.

- Submitted by Anonymous #4


What I learned from making Dear Stranger (Pt 3)

  • Spend some time rehearsing the blocking ON LOCATION. That will make it easier for you to describe to the actors what has to take place. Do not make it too written in stone. The purpose of doing this is for you to feel the place, where the camera can best capture the scene and, most importantly, if it makes sense (logically & emotionally).
  • The scene where Rosie spills water on her arms, it took several takes over many days to capture it right. Because I had not thought the scene out completely. In my head, the blocking worked but on set Nikki was frustrated. Because of the problems with the blocking, she doubted the scene and I am sure wished the scene was cut. And by luck, the pot happened to blow, it was captured on camera and we reblocked the scene around that. It worked! But it was luck, you lucky bastard.
  • With actors, make them comfortable so they take chances. But be careful to 1) indicate you know what the hell is going on 2) this is your film and 3) keep enough of the nervous energy because that helps as well.
  • Plan time for the actors to eat and be somewhat lazy. Because, otherwise they will make it on their own.
  • With shorts, keep your ideas (especially visual ideas) streamlined. Shorts are a different animal, they want to do a lot in little amounts of time with little variations.
  • Know that "suspension of disbelief" exists. All through the shoot and editing, you and others will doubt whether something is believable. It DOES! I mean you cannot do anything but as long the film makes its own logical sense, people believe it. They want the mental exercise. Alternate universe logic applies.
  • Get married or get a girlfriend/boyfriend. Because you are going to need them.