Making ‘The Moment’ by Judson Lake

I managed to beg steel and borrow for the shoot, pulling in some favours from people I’d previously worked with in an acting capacity, on their films. So a massive thanks to those good people that 1. Let me borrow there equipment and trusted me to use it and 2. Worked on the film for free. The only cost was feeding everyone, travel to and from and of course the gun hire, with it’s respective on-set guardian.

I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to make this otherwise and so of course I’m eternally grateful. The location I had identified and had booked unfortunately fell through at the last hour and so I reverted to shooting it in the house where I live. So a massive thanks to my housemates for their patience and understanding. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my team. They worked hard over the two days and not even in hours upon hours of post, did they object to going back over to tighten things; to perfect. Even now we’re tweaking, as I’m sure most other’s are, if not all.

The 50 Kisses is the first film competition/festival I’ve ever directed and produced a film for. I remember seeing the advert for it and it stood out from many other generic film festival/competitions.. first of all for it’s originality of first and second phase rounds of the screenplays and then the film making second phase. I loved the idea of this and felt it was a different approach.. more involving.. certainly more personal. The very nature of this should stand the comp/fest in good stead now and in the future. The whole process has been accessible and transparent which made it very inviting. There are some amazing entries for the screenplay first phase.. I read all of them and honestly.. the choice of what to make was difficult.. ultimately coming down to logistics.. budget etc as I’m sure with a lot of other film makers. But there was one that I loved from ‘The Moment’ I read it 🙂 (It’s amazing how many times these two words are uttered on an everyday basis, never noticed before!) It made me smile from beginning to end.. yet had genuine tension. It’s characters conflicted and generally speaking, any good drama should always have conflict.

So the Moment was the screenplay I chose to execute. A playful script with irony, intrigue, tension and a touch of comedy. I aimed to make it slightly offbeat..quirky, yet a little edgy and my overall intention was to keep the steaks high between the two men. Visually, I wanted to replicate this intensity, the play-off that they engage in.

I had two actor’s immediately in consideration for the piece. Both good, but different in look and their own unique energy. I played Thomas.
When I first called Drake (my on-set given name to the Hitman) he exclaimed..”oh no not another hitman” having done a few roles before in a Hitman type guise… I replied, “Trust me.. read it.. then let me know.. I’m convinced you will love this and you’re perfect for it” A few hours later (he’s a slow reader bless 🙂 he called me up and said “Yeah it’s really, good I’m in”

It’s an interesting piece as there are a few different ways to interpret the characters in context to the story. But I wanted to lift the story of the page in honesty and respect of the original script.. feeling the strength of the piece is indeed in it’s original. I resisted the temptation of tinkering with dialogue, another big decision, as it could be expanded in a number of ways, but I felt it hit all the right notes.

For us it was about bringing these two titans together.. one a threat to the other. I approached it from the notion that Thomas.. a quick thinking, fast talking charm of intensity, with just moments to live tries his luck.. anything to live beyond this immediate situation. I never perceived him to be gay.. but rather he could be heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual.. it was ultimately irrelevant.. it was about his situation, the dynamic between the two men. Thomas in attempting to evade death.. thinking on his feet… who dares wins.. Thomas must show as little weakness as possible otherwise he’s already dead. Emanating strength of the situation despite his true internal thoughts, but have just enough vulnerability to lure the Hitman in to his web. He Visibly learns, simultaneously as the viewer, that he can turn the situation to his advantage as time goes on… this is key. Yet we’re never sure which ways it’s going to go..

The Hitman (otherwise known as Drake on our set while we were filming for reference point, I generally like to this on any set, be known by a character name) is just on a job.. to take out Thomas. A professional. Ready to kill at any second.. but why doesn’t he? He can’t do it.. furthermore he’s tricked and so the tables turn and Thomas has him where he wants him. From Drake’s point of view.. he’s almost entertained at Thomas’s squirming at gunpoint.. at first.. then caught up unconsciously in the politics of the situation, and then in turn the audacity of the man (Thomas) in his assertions. The Hitman ends up almost blinded by attraction to Thomas’s conviction.. charisma and intensity, yet vulnerability. To try and get this in one short scene is what captured my imagination and ultimately led to me making my first film, which never ever would of come around now if it wasn’t for the 50 Kisses idea.

Importantly, I wanted to leave something hanging in the air.. the idea that maybe before this scene… what happened? I wanted a certain amount of ambiguity regarding where they come from, did they know each other previously? Where’s the chip from? (Yet knowing Thomas contravened something) Did they ever work together? Was or has the hitman ever been or known he was attracted to Thomas? Your never really sure 100% if Thomas is attracted to Drake or not.. until the end…? who dies in the end if anyone? Do they get together in the end? To build these ideas, questions. It was important to me to leave these things unanswered and not spoon feed the audience…  so get them thinking just a little. One way or the other. Yet build and give them a moment. For me, there’s a few moments within the story… four key moments to be precise. But that’s just my interpretation and by no means to say I’m right, or of course the only way to do things. And that’s what’s fantastic about this competition.

I just want to say a massive congratulations to everyone who’s taking part from the first phase and second phase. There are some great little films up there with some really nice ideas and good performances, including the various incarnate’s of The Moment. Well done and keep creating. Best of luck everyone and thanks to 50 Kisses for the opportunity and indeed, inspiring us. More films on the way, as soon as we’ve finished this one 🙂

Jud x

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