Janvier, 2024




Pearce, tell us a bit more about yourself. Where does your desire to be a director come from?

I always loved movies growing up. As I kid I always liked to create storylines through dressing up in costumes and playing characters, using lego figures and other action figures, and re-enacting scenes from movies with friends. I received a pocket video camera for Christmas when I was 10 years old and that opened up a whole new world of storytelling for me. As I got older it turned more into screenwriting and directing. I was particularly influenced by the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises.

What is your background?

My background is in acting and filmmaking. I started performing in musical theatre and plays at 8 or 9 years old. Started screenwriting and directing at 14, and at 15 made the jump to film acting and put all my time and energy into that the rest of high school and beyond.

What were your references for PÂRO?

The script was written by Mac Welch, who plays Otis in the film. He wanted to create a relationship drama, something akin to Marriage Story. I then wanted to adapt the relationship to film as a very natural and organic conversation piece. There are no complicated shots in the film and the sound design and cinematography are composed to put the focus on the conversation itself, paced by three long dialogue scenes with time skips in between. So I would say the structural references are like a three act stage play.

Pearce you won Best Romance at the RED Movie Awards, what does that mean to you?

I am super grateful to see PÂRO recognized as a RED award winner. I was a bit surprised that this short was considered for Best Romance, as the characters were mostly arguing or breaking up in the majority of the story. But yes, the compromise and reconciliation in the final scene are indicative of a deep love, and thus romantic. But going into the submission process I thought of PÂRO as more of a drama.

You managed to create a very particular relationship between the characters, what were your working methods and references?

The actors who were playing the characters Otis and Mia were actually dating at the time of filming and that was by design. I thought it would create a natural chemistry and familiarity of two people already in a long-term relationship. We had a very small crew for the film, about 4 including myself. This created a very intimate environment and helped give the actors an intimate space to work in and feel safe to go to those vulnerable moments we see in the film.

What was it like working with the actors?

Great! Mac was a friend and Emma is my sister so we all knew each other well coming into the process. They are both seasoned theatre actors and this script played to their strengths in the long form scenes as well as the relational subject matter. Some of the scenes were over 5 pages long and might have intimidated a film actor, but for theatre actors used to memorizing entire scripts for stage it was a more fluid and relaxed process. Both are professionals and took direction easily and we streamlined shooting sequences so that they would not have to do the scenes more that a few times so we didn’t exhaust them.

What was the biggest challenge in this shooting?

Probably the fact that the actors did not have any film experience and were not familiar with the repetition of shooting scenes and/or shooting out of sequence. Also the crew was so small, everyone was doubling up on duties which made for some stressful moments. As for the actual scenes, the movie theatre scene was shot at a drive-in at sunset, without official permission, so we were trying to balance the darkening sunlight to appear even during the scene in post production as there was no way to reshoot for continuity purposes.

Do you have an anecdote to share with us in particular?

The movie theatre scene was shot at my favorite drive-in theatre in Fort Worth, Texas called the Coyote Drive-In. I go there a lot and really wanted to use it in the film. We had to pay as regular customers to gain access to the parking area and then just shot the scene on the fly before the sun set. Afterwards we all stayed and got snacks and watched the movie together! Good times.

Can you explain to us the production methods for making this film?

We shot the film in 2 days and spent under $500 total including food, movie tickets, props, composition of music and poster art. We used my personal equipment, which was primarily a Panasonic GH4 DSLR camera and a RODE shotgun mic. The focus was really on the acting and dialogue, with the cinematography being used to create intimate spaces. I feel strongly about using original compositions for films and was happy my friend Drew was available and willing to help. I just think original scoring adds so much. Otis and Mia have a theme that appears in the beginning and ending of the film that adds an emotional resonance you cannot find in stock music. I also did not want to use production lighting for this film to continue that subtext of intimacy. Everything was either natural or lamplight from the fixtures in the interior rooms. I had an idea for the bedroom scene to have part of the dialogue to take place under the sheets, but this presented both lighting and sound issues of course. We ended up taping the sheet to the headboard so that we could make room for the camera under the sheet along with the actors. Also the cooking scene was the first time I shot a kitchen or cooking sequence and quickly realized that the continuity and sound of food cooking was not easy to replicate consistently for each take. So we had the actors prepare and cook the food prior to shooting the scene and just used the sound and insert shots to fill in during the actual scene during post. So the pans were actually empty during the shooting of the dialogue scene!

What is your next project?

There is another short film this same cast and crew worked on that is currently in post production! I both wrote and directed on this one. I’m looking to release it early 2024. It’s a romcom/thriller short called Apt 259. A very different film from PÂRO. More stylized filmmaking and less focused on dialogue. I’m also working on a dramedy web series called FISH filmed here in Texas. I am a producer and writer of the series and also star in it as Bobby, a freshman in college trying to find his way with the help of some savory upper class students.