By Kim Lyle
So often there’s a shroud of mystery around the process of how any work of art comes to exist in the world. In talking with producer, writer, and film director, Jeffrey Roedel, that veil is lifted. The creator of locally-shot short film Forever Waves, which premiered at the Louisiana International Film Festival earlier this month, offered valuable insight into his own ways of working behind the scenes.
DIG: Where did the idea for Forever Waves come from?
Roedel: When I write something it tends to be a bizarre accumulation of a lot of ideas rolled into one. Many of those ideas could have come from wildly difference experiences and influences from years before even. It was the same with this. I wanted for a long time to tell the story of a creative person who leaves home and has some measure of success but the experience of failure, too, and then has to wrestle with why her talent hasn’t fulfilled her, why fame and a big city didn’t make her happy.
DIG: What has been the greatest struggle in making a film like this one?
Roedel: With Forever Waves we wanted a dream-like quality to it. At the same time I wanted the performances and images to feel natural, so the idea was for it to feel like a documentary of a dream. Because of that, and because there was a certain amount of dialog improvisation while shooting, the editing process took a long time.
DIG: Were you alone in the editing process?
Roedel: Thankfully, I had a wonderful editor in Chris Aaron helping to craft the finished film every step of the way.
DIG: So on the other hand, what has been the most enjoyable part of making the film?
Roedel: Forever Waves is my first short film that I found myself surrounded by really talented collaborators and a team to make it happen. In years past, I had to do just about everything myself—which is not uncommon for indie filmmaking on a shoestring budget. It’s challenging and sobering because when you’re forced to do everything you quickly realize the things that are not your strength.
DIG: In what areas did you bring on help to realize your vision?
Roedel: With this film I had an incredibly talented cinematographer, Lawles Bourque. With him working the camera and overseeing lighting set ups, it allowed me to focus more on directing the actors and making sure our story was captured well through the performances.
DIG: What advice would you give to young filmmakers?
Roedel: From a technology standpoint, it’s so much easier and less expensive to make a good looking movie today than it was when I was younger and just starting out. The iPhone 6, you could make a nice little movie with that lens and a couple of the add-ons if you wanted. It’s crazy. So the means of doing it are accessible, but the challenge remains in coming up with a compelling story.
DIG: Should they worry about breaking into the industry?
Roedel: Don’t worry at first about “the Industry.” I don’t think most painters sit down in front of their canvas and think, “What can I make today that will help me break into the ‘Art Industry?'” So why should a filmmaker think that way? Just make the best, most interesting movie you can. If you don’t have a lot of money or a lot of time, write a story that’s personal, from the heart, and a story that may seem on the surface to be small but that actually has huge themes that draw people into it. Focus on those things: on the story and the work. Then, only when you’re done, try the best you can to get people in the industry to see it and hope they connect with it, too.