Life In Free Fall is a special film for me, not only because it is the first film I have directed, but because the story is so personal. Like many artists, I have struggled to reconcile the dreams and aspirations that brought me to New York City converging with the realities of the business. I wanted to explore how the pursuit of success and happiness is difficult, and ultimately we have to sacrifice one or the other.
We crafted the character of Brian Platt to be a successful songwriter who has found his world toxic, causing him to flee New York for Kansas. Before he can leave, he meets a young singer named Rachel Mason. Rachel allows Brian to experience the innocent wonders while strolling through New York one night. It was important for my co-writer, Jonathan Michael Weber, and I to avoid a traditional romance, we embraced the idea that even if you only spend a short period of time with someone, they can still have a profound affect on your life.
I wanted to capture my New York City, the one tourists rarely see. I sought locations that were intimate and quiet, with major landmarks barely visible in the distance. We worked to reveal the beauty of New York in every shot, trying to frame the romance of the city in this intimate story. Piero Basso, our Director of Photography, worked diligently to sculpt each exterior shot with natural light. For the most part, our small cast and crew went unnoticed as we shot, allowing our fictional characters to live in these very real neighborhoods.
Peppered within our cast of talented students are Broadway actors, and professional singers. New York is teaming with so much talent, I wanted to showcase that talent with our performers. Lori McKelvey’s songs beautifully captured the various sounds and textures of the city. It allowed Deidre Goodwin, our choreographer, to explore different styles and motifs. We even drew a crowd of tourists while shooting in Time Square who applauded, and even placed money in our actor’s guitar case.
I was very grateful that our Editor, Sean Robinson, was on set with me as our Assistant Director. Sean was able to recommend additional shots to aid in the storytelling, and to have a more visceral understanding of the story we were telling. I wanted the film to slow down once Brian makes the decision to quit the business, which allowed Sean to coax longer takes that I hope allows the audience to connect even deeper with the characters as they stroll through the city.
From inception to the final edits, we spent just over a year on Life In Free Fall. It allowed me to not only cut my teeth in film but to also have a better understand of the path I am on professionally. I hope audiences will, if even for only a moment, look at their own life and take stock of what they’ve achieved and celebrate that success.