To Bleed True

A photographer with a supernatural ability to see the future encounters a client who’s future changes her own.

Director’s Vision

The film was shot in 2017 on my own dime with a very scrappy group of newcomers and really great lead talent.

I had shot a short film in 2016 and though the Producer did get resources aligned for it, and even though I watch it now and see how well it was made, I really didn’t know what I was doing. I had written it and knew how I wanted to tell that story, but to me it failed because it had no real ‘life’ in it. And not for anyone’s fault but my own. I had a pretty full, exceptionally talented crew with great talent in front of the camera and it still felt like I had missed the mark.

To Bleed True was my first film as a Director/DP and my first project deliberately trying to find my voice instead of checking particular story boxes. I had shot small commercials and music videos as Director/DP but those aren’t the same as pure narrative storytelling. I also wanted to try working with someone else’s script and the subtle supernatural concept created by Christian Roe was something I could readily identify with, especially as a story that has strong female leads from different backgrounds. I prefer a story like ‘Upstream Color’ or ‘Atlantics’, where something unique is happening but it’s not necessarily a big “oh look at me” thing like in traditional sci-fi or supernatural films.

I took my time to prep because that’s what I had more of than anything else. That meant really thinking about each scene and how I wanted the dynamic of these characters’ relationship to be presented on screen over time. At first they don’t know each other and Janell is a very walled-up individual, so she rarely faces Raa or is literally divided from her in the frame. As the story unfolds we see them get closer and closer so the blocking meant less division and more open-ness to facing each other.

Thanks to my fantastic Producer I had a free location that I could visit regularly to figure out how I was going to shoot the majority of the gallery/ studio scenes. I drew overheads and then learned, in that process, the value of blocking and how that should work within a scene. It was an ‘aha’ moment that I look back on now and am kinda in awe of how much I didn’t know to that point.

There were a lot of firsts on this film for me and I was fortunate enough to work with some really great talent; from my dear friend of many years Kalya Sarian, to Barbara’s portrayed innocence and struggle to the collaboration with Kevin Smith, who I learned a lot from creating the score. Though I can see all the imperfections of this film, I’m also in awe of how the story developed and the wonderful performances of Kayla and Barbara as the film progresses to its final scene that still hits me in the feels. They did a killer job so the making of the film was a great experience.

Due to the budgetary constraints not all was perfected prior to shooting, so there were some re-shoots required as post-production went on. Barbara was in New York and just about to return to Brazil prior to our first shoot so there was a significantly protracted post-schedule that meant it took 2.5 years to finish the film. That sounds crazy for a short film, and it is, but life happens and everyone’s gotta work to pay the bills so things get chipped away as they can be. (Thankfully, since this film I’ve managed to progressively shorten the post-timeline on each of my short films.)

To Bleed True was finished in autumn of 2019 and was made an official selection of about 10 festivals between 2019 and 2020, including the 20th Beverly Hills Film Festival and the Blackbird Film Festival 2020, where it will be replayed in 2021 due to the mess COVID created globally.