Local filmmaker travels to Los Angeles to shoot short filmWritten by Kevin Moore | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Steven Boatman is a filmmaker from Toledo who is very passionate about movies and knows his way around a camera. The 25-year-old talent was able to turn a five-minute piece about a man’s struggles to mow his lawn, starring himself, into an eye-catching selection at the Northwest Ohio Independent Film Festival and The Indie Gathering Film Festival in 2012. The film, “Mowing Through Misery,” which can be viewed on YouTube, took third place for Best Drama – Micro Film at The Indie Gathering. It was after a showing of “Mowing Though Misery” that Russ Russo, an actor, director and screenwriter from Los Angeles, decided he wanted Boatman to be director of photography on his upcoming film, “Heat Wave.”
“I was speaking at the Northwest Ohio Film Festival in Lima, Ohio, and giving a talk about things actors need to do to make a living while pursuing their craft,” said Russo, an actor of fifteen years. “It was the end of the day, and there were some technical issues at the festival as they were trying to show Steven’s film so a lot of people were leaving. I almost didn’t see it, but I’m glad I stuck it out. Right away I saw Steven’s eye was different from the rest. His shots were so innovative and challenging.”
After talking with Boatman, Russo decided he had definitely found the right man for the job. To get his vision for “Mowing Through Misery” on screen, Boatman designed much of his own equipment. He designed an 8-foot overhead aluminum crane that he hired a welder to fabricate, built dolly tracks and even managed to create his own Steadicam.
“The film had a lot of dynamic shots for a film about a guy trying to start his lawn mower. I thought I was watching ‘Die Hard’ with lawnmowers,” Russo said. “He’s even operated a camera by remote control while acting in front of the camera!”
“My dad had a real interest in science-fiction, and I was drawn to stories in film, in novels and short stories. But I eventually wanted to tell my own stories,” Boatman said. “I was home-schooled and my dad worked film into what I was learning. In ninth grade, I made a ‘Matrix’ fan film. I think that’s when my dad realized my potential to make film.”
Boatman, who is hearing impaired and uses a cochlear implant, credits not being able to hear the first four or five years of his life for his emphasis on the visual.
After graduating, Boatman started attending Bowling Green State University with a major in video communication technology (VCT). After completing the three courses in the VCT curriculum that would advance his filmmaking, Boatman decided to leave college and pursue a career in film.
“The last class project I did was a short film called ‘Supernatural Stalker.’ After that, there were no more narrative film assignments in the film curriculum so I decided to move on,” he said.
Boatman’s parents have been supportive of his decision to not finish his degree.
“I recognized early on with one of Steven’s ninth grade shorts that he really enjoyed film, but I really saw his ability to make great shots with ‘Mowing Through Misery,’” said Boatman’s father, Glenn. “He can do a lot with a small budget so I try to help him financially as he starts his film career.”
“Heat Wave,” Russo’s debut as writer and director, had some starts and stops over the last two years as the crew worked to get funding via Kickstarter. What was originally conceived of as a feature film became a short film due to funding, but, in Russo’s view, “constraints push people to be more creative.”
The 15-minute short follows three friends who discover a fourth friend died the night before and they think they might be responsible. Russo plays one of the three friends alongside Kiowa Gordon of the “Twilight” films and Sundance Channel’s “The Red Road.”
“It’s about the consequences of the unknown,” Russo said. “I wanted to modernize some of the really insightful television shows of the late 1950s and 1960s like ‘The Twilight Zone’ and ‘The Outer Limits.’ ‘Heat Wave’ is a drama thriller that’s thought-provoking.”
Shooting for “Heat Wave” occurred over two 12-hour days, June 9 and 10, in Los Angeles. As director of photography, it was Boatman’s responsibility to find solutions to make sure the director’s vision ends up on screen as well as make sure the camera doesn’t pick up anything or anyone it’s not supposed to, such as the reflection of the boom operator in a window. While technically only supposed to last 12 hours, the days of shooting for “Heat Wave” extended to 14 hours or more, with Boatman even skipping one lunch break to design a way to affix a peep hole from Home Depot to the camera since the film’s location had no doors with peep holes.
“It was my first time in LA. It was a new experience for me. First thing I noticed was the traffic, but also a large format advertisement for ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ that took up the side of an entire building. We just don’t have things like that here,” Boatman said.
Now that filming has ended, Russo spent the last week of June in Toledo working with Boatman on editing. The crew anticipates to release “Heat Wave” in time for the Sundance Film Festival in January, followed by release in select theaters.
In the meantime, Boatman will continue to work on a Toledo-based supernatural-drama webseries titled “Huntsmen,” which he has been shooting with local director Gerald Hill, as well as filming weddings and music videos locally. Russo will also be starring in two feature length films, “The Projectionist,” about a soldier returning from the Iraq War with PTSD, and “Shreveport,” a thriller written and directed by Ryan Phillippe.
Tags: "Heat Wave", "Huntsmen", Aaron Jaeger, Ariana Malik, Bowling Green State University, Brian Farmer, Craig Blair, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Emma Willis, filmmaker, filmmaking, Gerald Hill, Howing Through Misery, Iraq War, Joe Bartone, Jonathan Roumie, Kickstarter, Kiowa Gordon, Layla Brigh, Matrix, Movies, Northwest Ohio Film Festival, Northwest Ohio Independent Film Festival, Patrick Williams Jr., PTSD, Russ Russo, Ryan Phillipe, science fiction, Sean Simpson, Shreveport, Steven Boatman, Sundance Film Festival, The Indie Gathering Film Festival, The Projectionist, Video Communication Technology