074 – Documentary Filmmaking with Nathan Stevens and Matthew Roth

In this Happy Hour podcast, we’re chatting with Nathan Stevens and Matthew Roth about documentary filmmaking and narrative shorts, with a focus on exploring the complexities of faith.


  • (8:15) Who are Nathan and Matthew and what is their story?
  • (10:24) How did Matt start making films?
  • (13:16) Nate’s origin story.
  • (16:57) Enjoyable Christian media?
  • (26:41) Fight Like Ana.
  • (34:37) Gear.
  • (36:27) Post production.
  • (41:36) Building a relationship with the Wakefield’s.
  • (48:48) The writing process.
  • (52:22) Continuity.
  • (1:07:23) Nate and Matt’s favorite memories from this project.
  • (1:11:41) Documentary vs narrative filmmaking.
  • (1:21:14) Two truths and a lie.


Ryan Freng 3:04
Hello and welcome back to a nother Happy Hour and welcome to my dungeon. This is probably the first time that we’ve streamed from here. I moved, visited Florida, it’s been a crazy four weeks we’ve been working a lot as well. So we haven’t had a live one of these in a while. But we’re back. I am co creative director here at backflip. Thanks so much for jumping in and joining as always, we’ve got John Shoemaker what’s up, John? Hello. Perfect. I heard you almost like you have that mat across your microphone.

John Shoemaker 3:39
It’s possible like to soften, soften my audio.

Ryan Freng 3:47
It’s funny because it almost sounds like extra noise reduction. Grind. Like it just kind of peeks out, but I missed your joke. What was your joke?

John Shoemaker 3:58
I said welcome to my dungeon. Welcome.

Ryan Freng 4:01
Yeah, you got the red lights there? That’s not creepy at all. What’s that behind you?

John Shoemaker 4:06
This looks extra creepy. I don’t know. He just showed up.

Ryan Freng 4:12
What do you mean? I don’t see anything behind me.

John Shoemaker 4:16
That’s a that’s me as a puppet. So got new wardrobe too.

Ryan Freng 4:22
Did you light it red? Because the puppets there? Or was it red? And then you put the puppet in there?

John Shoemaker 4:30
I didn’t light it right

Ryan Freng 4:35
what was I gonna say? Oh, let me know if you hear. I’ve got a dryer down here. It’s like wobble. I don’t know if that picks up on the mic. But let me know if you get noise from me. You never hear it. Cool. I’ll just go nuts because of all the noises. So before we bring our guests on, which I’m super excited about because we haven’t talked to them yet. And we got to watch their short film and we just haven’t caught up with these guys in a little while. So I’m super excited to talk and when we jump on beforehand, we don’t talk. It’s like, awkward. I’m like, let’s just check audio and then save the conversation because it’s gonna be so good. So first we’re gonna we’re gonna talk about our drinks. Well, what did you bring today, John?

John Shoemaker 5:13
I brought the bells, Christmas Ale, Christmas scotch ale. I cheated or I got to cheat because backstory is that somebody in this conversation showed up to backflip with huge amounts of beer of many different varieties. That would be Ryan. And oh, you’re talking about me? I, you know what, I’m not gonna say why. Anyway, he did that. And we were, we were tasting them. And this one was a really good one. There was another Christmas one that had like Christmas spices. And other people said that they liked it. But to me, I was just like, well, reminds me of Christmas. But it’s like the spices that you’re not supposed to eat.

Ryan Freng 6:05
Yeah, it’s like you ate the popery on accident. Yeah,

John Shoemaker 6:08
but this one, this one was good. The ScotRail was very smooth.

Ryan Freng 6:13
Yeah, that’s it. That was a very smooth one. It also makes me want like a stronger scotch ale or just scotch. So it’s like a gateway drug for me. All right, I got some Tara mana tequila today. I was in Florida last week. And we were drinking rum and I just really wanted tequila. Yeah, so makes that again. The Terra mana company. I don’t know if you’re familiar with them. Dwayne The Rock Johnson. Oh, yeah. There’s a poster over here. You can’t see. My boy.

John Shoemaker 6:44
Yeah, you will not be satisfied until you actually have like a an old like wrestling picture of him.

Ryan Freng 6:53
I did wear a fanny pack at Florida in Florida. And I felt like the rock because I had a fanny pack. It was amazing. Alright, that’s enough Jabber. We got some viewers. We should definitely bring on our guests. Except I like I changed my screen size. So it disappeared. There we go. We got Nate. We got Matt. What’s up guys? Scream? Thanks for hanging in there. No problem. Good. Let’s, let’s start. It is good to have you. Let’s have you guys talk a little bit about your drink. And then then we’ll get to the nitty gritty stuff of why we’re here and what we’re talking about. But we got to start with our happy hour stuff.

Matthew Roth 7:34
Go for it, man. Well, the dude does abide today. So rockin a little semi vegan because I didn’t have any. Any half and half. Little White Russian here. So nice. Only the most premium ingredients that were available at the time.

Ryan Freng 7:55
I like that. You’re like, Are you vegan? No, I just couldn’t get milk. Exactly.

Matthew Roth 8:03
Send me vegan. I was like there’s not enough. There was too much coconut milk. And so I was like, I gotta have a little bit of dairy milk. So

Ryan Freng 8:10
nice. Yeah, we always we always encourage we never pressure so I appreciate you sharing a drink with us today. Right? What do we got Nate?

Nathan Stevens 8:21
Well, I realized that I made an enormous mistake. I went down to my drinks cooler in the basement and realized that I was out of just about everything. So I grabbed what I thought was a propel to give me some some sweet fruity energy and ended up grabbing a sparkling Poland Springs. triple berry sparkling water. And I’m not a sparkling water fan, not what you’re expecting. So ice cold arctic water might be my my drink of choice this morning.

John Shoemaker 8:57
Afternoon. So an acquired taste

Matthew Roth 8:59
that’s open that caramel apple Mountain Dew you had? Yeah, yeah.

Nathan Stevens 9:03
I passed on that this morning. It’s not good for Wisconsin filmmaker not to like sparkling water because Lacroix is literally on every set in the world. So

Ryan Freng 9:14
yeah, and we’re cheap. And we have club. I mean, you can get Clark club run. And it’s local. from Costco. It’s like four $4 for a 30 pack. Or maybe they give you $4 If you buy a 30 pack, I don’t know. It doesn’t want to do stuff. Yeah. So thanks for coming on today. And I think I titled the documentary filmmaking. We met you guys probably at a wave awards with Madison media professionals. Back in the day when you guys had some work and we’re like, Who are these young guys doing good stuff. Which is really really awesome to see and, you know, some faith based stuff, which is cool too, which resonates with us, but why don’t you guys give us a little bit of your backstory before i i tell you about Sorry

Matthew Roth 10:04
we’re both different now. Yeah, sure. So Nate and I, I probably had been doing filmmaking stuff about as long as I’ve known Nate. He was kind of into it before I was and then we got we met in are seniors in high school, within the same school for our senior year. And we became friends and realize that I was interested in writing. Nate had been making films for a while at that point. And so we I think we went cobbled together some like props and some some like army uniforms and tried to make a little world war two movie. And Tara, like, pretty terrible script never got finished. That’s kind of the bug caught how I caught the bug work. And it was working with me, which was pretty cool, too. So and, yeah, get some stuff in college together. And then we can really literally been working together since that point. So

Ryan Freng 11:13
nice. And your your bio says brothers in law as well. So it’s not it’s not Nate’s family that’s over at your house? Is it?

Matthew Roth 11:24
No, it’s not. Yeah. Yeah. Nate, Nate became I always joke that he became friends with me, so he could date my sister, but

Ryan Freng 11:34
Oh. So Nate doesn’t make in law jokes. Or he’s not allowed to participate in making in law jokes like, oh, the in laws or or you’re like, hey, that’s me.

Matthew Roth 11:45
That’d be a little careful. Yeah.

Ryan Freng 11:47
Yeah. Actually, that’s a sketch that you guys may take and run with that. That’d be awesome.

Matthew Roth 11:54
Ideas are flowing.

Yeah. So what I mean, you guys kind of connected. You said, and it was in high school. Yep. But But I don’t know, Matt. Before that. What What kind of got you you into it? What What were your interests? Yeah.

So I’ve always been like, since I was a kid, like, probably since I was like five or six years old. I’ve always I’ve enjoyed, like, writing and telling stories. So I would like write these little. I don’t know if y’all remember Microsoft Publisher. Anyone remember Microsoft Publisher. But they had a template for like, a book. And so like, I kind of made my own artwork. And then I’d like come up with these stories and print out little booklets for myself. And so like, it kind of was like writing and yeah, that kind of came out of like, you know, normal like kid like, make believe stuff with with my siblings. And then started honestly, like, a big thing was like watching the Lord of the Rings. And then watching the supplemental material, like I remember to kind of like always used to watch the DVDs when I was a kid like the supplements and then bought the floor during extended editions and watching that it was like, Oh, this is like something you can do. And these are the mechanics of it. And then you’re like, I want to do that. That looks. Yeah. So like, that’s kind of what made me fall in love with it was like watching those filmmaking specifically, like interested in watching those, those those DVD extras, but specifically the Lord of the Rings ones because it like laid out the entire process. And like this is cool. So yeah, that’s

Ryan Freng 13:30
funny that you say that, because that’s something too that resonates with me. And it’s what was it like maybe rush hour, just the hilarious movie and watch the outtakes behind it, and then kind of started getting into the filmmaking. And then it was like after that, that, like I started buying, like Lord of the Rings. And then you get the director’s commentary, you get the behind the scenes, you get all that stuff. And I just love that, you know, it. It kind of, I don’t know, maybe want to be like, Oh, I could do that. That looks like a ton of fun. And I would also do the stories as well. But I would make stories for like d&d games that I would never play play like d&d, like twice. But I would always make stories and characters and things like that and put them in a book and like, Hey, here’s my adventure. And then I guess they just get thrown away. So that’s, that’s cool. Yeah. And so now you guys, and we’ll get we’ll get to you in a second, Nate. Now you guys are doing just awesome. Award winning stuff and getting paid for it. Right.

Matthew Roth 14:36
Yeah, no, it’s been. It’s come myself very, you know, fortunate and lucky to be able to do this kind of work. So yeah. It’s been. Yeah, very grateful. For

Ryan Freng 14:49
sure. Nice. Cool. Before we get to the film that we John and I both just watched and very much enjoyed. Nate Europe. What’s your origin story?

Nathan Stevens 15:00
Well, probably a little more nerdy than than Matt’s. I think my my origin story starts when I was a little kids, I have a lot of brothers and sisters, and we’d all play together. And the big thing was, was the GI Joes. And we have all of our GI Joes. And we literally write a script for our GI Joes. And we we would we act out the script as if the GI Joes were actors, and we direct to them and, and stuff like that, which is pretty dirty. Then in high school, we got our hands on a camcorder, and a little little sony handycam, and we just do a bunch of stunts that’s in the skateboarding and flips and random parkour stuff. What was cool back in the early 2000s, and would would actually do some editing on a VCR. And you put a VHS tape in the VCR connect the camera and like hit record on the camera as as you hit play, and do my little editing in camera like that. And then like as Matt said, he and I connected in high school and kind of bounced off each other and kind of experimented with some more cinematic stuff, if you will. And then throughout college, so

Ryan Freng 16:24
yeah, and how did how did you guys kind of get into, like the faith stuff? Was that always a part of your upbringing? Is that new? Is that kind of how you started making stuff together?

Nathan Stevens 16:37
Yeah, I think it’s, it’s kind of always been on the back burner of what we want it to do. Obviously, there was a long period of time where we didn’t understand that this is something that you could do, unless you’re in Hollywood as a career. I didn’t find that out until probably Junior Senior of college. And so for us, we were just kind of goofing around, I think, and we enjoyed it. So we’re just kind of exploring that. And taking the next step. And the next step. And the next step, just because it was it was cool. We felt like, you know, we could get better at it. And then I think once he and I both kind of found out, we could do this as a living, that’s when, for me, the way it started was I grew up in a Christian home and the media I was allowed to consume was very limited. And limited to like Christian made films and stuff. So I understood and realize how horrible the production value was for that. I think so my, my initial. Yeah, so my initial passion to do faith based work is because there’s just such a small pool of, of watchable content, and I wanted to change that I wanted to bring, I want to, like you want something that either has good acting, which is rare, or production value, good cinematography, or it have one element,

Ryan Freng 18:04
and something’s got to be good, it can’t all be bad, and then have a good message, because no one’s gonna want to receive that or be entertained by it.

Nathan Stevens 18:12
Right? Right. And it just seems so rare that or just never, you’d get all of those in one film. And so it’s just always been my goal, I wanted to make stuff that is faith based, but is watchable, and draws in every viewer, not just a very select niche of people. So that’s kind of where my passion kind of originated.

Ryan Freng 18:38
Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s something John and I, you know, from the beginning, strive to as well because like, you know, even though Christian media versus Catholic media, Catholic media was like the worst of the worst, like, so bad. And so I mean, there’s some good opportunity there, but just the same thing, like, hey, we want to put out good stuff with good message that also doesn’t smack people in the head and be like, Hey, watch my Christian film about Jesus, you know, it’s like, no, just enjoy this experience and be better for having consumed it.

John Shoemaker 19:08
Right. Yeah, I have had lots of conversations over the years with different people about because this plagues the music industry, as well, unfortunately, like, and somebody brought up one time that the problem is that somebody else had baby. I don’t know if it’s, you know, in the value of being positive and nice to each other. There’s not enough critical review of, of these areas of media. And so you’ll have a musician that has a song or album that they put out and it’s Christian. And it’s accepted because Oh, that’s great. It’s Christian. But it’s like actually, it’s not great. You’re really bad singer or like, just Like, there needs to be quality, their lyrics are kind of janky. Just because you have this positive message, I guess that’s better than something negative, but like, it doesn’t mean that it’s quality. And then that drags the whole industry down with it. Because then people like associate, well, anything that’s going to have, you know, a Christian background is just going to be like lower quality. I have a whole other thought on this too, because I’ve been following Angel studios, as I’m sure a lot of people have, because they’re pushing boundaries and doing some really cool things with the chosen and all the other properties that they have. But I’m even thinking, and maybe Maybe I’m being too nitpicking, but they were talking about some film, I think, shift, or the shift or something. I saw some trailers about that. I’m kind of unsure how I feel about them putting it out there as a faith based film. I’m like, dude, let’s let’s get outside of that, and just be like, here’s a new film, it’s really great. Here’s the basic premise of it. And then just by knowing the nature of the filmmakers, and you know, if you read the synopsis, you’ll know what the content is, is not going to be. And I say they’re, you know, Christian, or whatever, like. So like, that’s a tricky thing to navigate in these areas, where it’s like, well, can we can we just put it forward without putting brackets around it? And saying, No, it’s a it’s a film, and then you know, the filmmaker and the things that I care about when I’m passionate about life. And so that’s what’s gonna come through the story.

Matthew Roth 21:55
It’s, it’s interesting, because like, they’re, they’re put out as Christian films, but I actually sometimes wonder how Christian they actually are, because the version of Christianity that’s being put forth and a lot of these things, isn’t anything that real people really even experience a lot of times, you know, it’s like, the this is, I don’t mean to sound so hypercritical, but this is true about the music industry, to where it’s like, positivity to the point of like, we’re no longer talking about real things, or looking at where all of us are like, I mean, a lot of these movies, it’s like, the reversal of a country song, you get all of the good things back at the end of the movie. And that’s like, that’s a Christian film, because, you know, and I think it puts out like, an unrealistic idea of what faith actually is. Because we’re missing the suffering part of faith, the reliance upon, you know, a being greater than you for these things. And like, sometimes there’s not like clean endings. And actually, most of the time, at least, like in the here, and now there’s not clean endings. And so one of the things that really drew me to, you know, working within this space is to, like, Tell those like raw and more real stories, and a lot of the work that I’ve done in the past has been working through churches. And so like, it’s interesting, because you’re kind of like pushing the boundaries, at church of like, what’s acceptable to be seen at church to a certain extent. Like, because we’re wanting to, like, at least for me, and like, and I think Nate would say this as well wanting to explore, like, the reality behind behind what people are actually feeling. And not this sort of put on version of faith that we’re so used to seeing, you know, in Christian media, and so, that’s one of the things that really is drawn me to this space is like, let’s let’s talk about these things through a faith lens. But like you were saying, John to like, it should just kind of come out of, you know, like, it just kind of comes out of who we are as creators who happen to be people of faith, you know, so. But yeah,

John Shoemaker 24:19
I wonder. I don’t think like, Lord of the Rings, novels would have gone as far if they had been advertised as a faith based story.

Ryan Freng 24:31
Yeah, all right.

Matthew Roth 24:34
Totally. Well, it’s like, what’s interesting about Lloyd that you mentioned, Lord of the Rings specifically is like, there’s this really, really interesting metaphor that’s created and it’s actually expansive in the minds of the viewers. And so like, if you’re coming to it with a background of faith, you’ll see a lot of different things that match, you know, JRR Tolkien’s faith, but if you come to it, like there’s truth in the metaphor, and so you can see lots of other things. Is that are true about this world, even if you don’t have that faith background, because it’s an honest truth. It’s a story that is, is true in many senses. And I think that’s probably the kind of work that I’m most interested in, like aspiring to. You kind of like setting up this metaphor. And it’s kind of like what, what Jesus did with like, parables he’d like, tell these stories, and then he wouldn’t even like, he wouldn’t even explain what they mean, sometimes you just kind of like, drop the mic and walk away, which I was found kind of a really interesting thing to looking at storytelling model in like that kind of a way.

Ryan Freng 25:41
Yeah, that’s interesting, too, to think about the filmmaker and the, you know, the story that you create, and like, part of it is you shouldn’t have to explain it, you know, certainly allegory and parable. Like, there’s, there’s an important reason that on many occasions to Jesus would be like, Alright, here’s the story. And they’re like, what? And he’s like, Okay, so the person, you know, the seed that falls upon the dry ground, or whatever, like is, like, on, there’s something to that, but it’s interesting in the art, because we don’t always have that opportunity to explain it. So there needs to be, you know, enough of the allegory or metaphor like JRR Tolkien is an allegory for the faith, whereas, like CS Lewis for the Christian faith, whereas like CS Lewis is more of like, similar, like a simile, like it’s a story that’s like one for one, right? Aslan is Jesus, right? He sacrifices himself so that their sins are removed from them, okay? It’s very obvious. And the JRR Tolkien world, none of its obvious, and even when you read, like the simile really and and get the history and you’re like, Okay, so, the wizards are like, angels and like, it’s so nuts, that, that that’s an allegory that, like, needs to be explained. However, the world has enjoyed it, and consumed it and loves it, and they’re getting that goodness, even if it’s not all being intellectualized or kind of taken apart in a way that would be explicit to the creators design behind it. But there is still goodness that comes out of that. And I would love to do that. I want to do sci fi and fantasy that is just so consumable, but it’s like, oh, and by the way, there’s really good stuff in here that’s gonna, like, you know, make your heart and head better. I love that. So, I mean, something you were saying, to maybe think about fight like, Ana, the film that you guys released this year, the short documentary film, about a young woman who was in a car accident, and just kind of her journey. And that was one thing that I really appreciated, was the discussion about the subtle discussion about her faith. And there was times when I’m like, I want to hear you scream and be like, Why God, you know, but there was definitely like, just a depiction of such a strong faith. Like, I want to see the behind the scenes of this film, to kind of hear some more of that story, too. But why don’t you guys just tell us a little bit more about the film?

Nathan Stevens 28:27
Yeah, I mean, we just kind of going back to why we did it in the first place, I guess would be it was this fall, I believe, or winter of 20 2018. And someone who went, it was college mate of Matt and mine, married into the Wakefield family, a distant relative of the Wakefield family. So they’re very aware of her story. And at that point, Matt and I were becoming a little more accomplished in our work and putting some stuff out there. And she reached out to me and said, Hey, you and Matt should should make a film about this. And we kind of pondered that for a little bit. And it kind of seemed like a long shot. But we wanted to do a short documentary. And so I figured, you know, nothing ventured, nothing gained. So we just sent her an email sent the whole family and emails that hey, this is our intent. What are your thoughts? And I was pretty sure it’d be like, that’s not something we’re comfortable with. Thank you, though. And that is the complete opposite. They just open arms. Like yeah, absolutely. When When can you come out here? What can we do? So that was huge for us. Because, I mean, how often do you get the opportunity and so we we didn’t quite know how it was going to get paid for. But we kind of had a plan in the back her mind to do a crowdfunding for this. And but we went out for the first trip to do the interviews on our own dime, the spring of 2019. And that’s when we kept all the interviews, came back home, edit an altogether created a narrative, and slated what kind of B roll we were looking for. And then went back, we were slated to go out 2020. But then Coronavirus came out and pushed us we were able to get out there in the fall to finish up filming. And they’re just the the family was just they completely opened themselves up to our questions, they held nothing back. And that is as powerful as it is.

Matthew Roth 30:47
I think one of the things that was I was most like, my concern is going in kind of going back to the whole like, this is a big story of faith. And wanting to tell it honestly, I’ve seen so many, there’s so many ways where we could have told the story in a way that doesn’t, that kind of highlights, only the positives and like, it’s like a really amazing story. It’s very miraculous, like what she has been able to accomplish in such a short period of time to get back to where she was. And I think the danger would have been being told to tell that story in a way that the ending high note was that and we miss out on the actual hard that this family had to go through. And I think that’s kind of the things where I’ve seen like, other faith stories fail, they focus on these people’s like faith in God to get them through. But the questioning and the difficulty having you know, going through like forgiveness is not an easy thing. And you know, coming to reality with your new reality is a very difficult thing. And like those questions of, you know, like, why God, I hope we were able to kind of delve into that, you know, that part as well. And so I had a lot of like that apprehension that we could get to that kind of story, but the family was so forthcoming and honest. And it was their honesty. That I mean, like it’s such a gift, the honesty that they gave us, like in you know, opening up and telling us the actual inner struggles that they were going through and like that’s something that like I said, it’s just such a gift and so thankful for that and and yeah, that was that was huge for us for being able to tell the type of story that we’re interested in and telling for sure.

And let’s if you guys are cool. Can I play the trailer? Sure. Let’s do that for a little context as well. I think we’ll have audio

I didn’t try this beforehand. So let’s see.

Unknown Speaker 33:08
A 20 year old woman is in critical condition tonight after someone crossed the center line and crashed into her car had on this 20

Unknown Speaker 33:15
year old Anna Wakefield is in critical condition after a man crashed into a car was on her way to basketball practice. When she was hit head on along Highway 212 Just west of Damascus.

Unknown Speaker 33:32
Well, that day was one of the most difficult of my entire life. I knew at that point that she was just fighting for life. She will never be who she was before. I really feel like the whole thing did bring our family together. It’s also just a great reminder in every relationship to love to the fullest and never to take any of it for granted.

Ryan Freng 34:13
Love it. It’s awesome. It was funny too. The other day I pulled it up and I was like oh coming soon. Dang it. And then the next day is John’s like I watched the film. I was like wait, I thought it was coming soon. He’s like no, just scroll down. I was like, Oh, I’m old apparently. So I was very happy that we can watch that. And I did link it in chat. For those who wants to go see the film to go to the website fight like on a.com and check that out. I do before we get into all the wonderful emotional stuff as well. I do got to get nerdy. I thought it looked gorgeous. And I love the treatments to have the kind of like tube TV lines. Um, the archival footage, like that was a real nice way to treat that archival footage. So it didn’t, it felt cinematic. And then I appreciate what you said too, about you guys shot the interviews, edited, and then knew what B roll you wanted, because that B roll is so powerful as well. And it feels, I don’t know, it just feels really well put together because of that, you know.

Nathan Stevens 35:30
I mean, so I, you know, coming from you guys, I mean, that’s, that’s a high compliment, if people who view at the typical personal view of might not fully notice a lot of the intricate, purposeful things that went into it, so, yeah, appreciate

Matthew Roth 35:45
that. I think they’ll feel that that type of thing to the transfer, I was having a discussion with my wife, she’s like, I don’t know that I would notice the difference between HDR and non HDR. And I’m like, you might not be able to call it that. But you’re going to be able to feel a difference when we watch something. And it’s okay, if you don’t necessarily think of it, so you don’t want it. However, we do these extra things. Because they do elicit something, even if people don’t understand. You know, like, that’s true. That’s true. It’s so great. It’s very pronounced on this screen, but it’s way more subtle. Over here. What do you guys shoot? What do you shoot with? Because I also I was like, Ooh, some of that drone stuff is really cinematic.

Nathan Stevens 36:32
Yeah. I’ll take the geeky stuff, man, if you don’t mind. But um, the drone work, we use the Mavic two Pro. So I was very happy with what we’re able to get out of that. The biggest thing we went with the biggest reason we went with that drone. It was pre new at the time, but it was very small and compact, and you can throw it in a bag and go anywhere with it. We shot the film on the URSA Mini, and there are so many pro, it wasn’t the due to the interviews was just the original URSA Mini, I believe. And then between that and shooting the B roll, I had purchased my G two. So we shot all the B, B roll with my URSA Mini G two. The interviews were on an an NG new zoom lens, and then the mural, we’re on the sigma cine zooms.

Matthew Roth 37:30
Yeah, and the interview is there, the it’s so crisp. It’s very nice. It’s very sharp. I love that

Nathan Stevens 37:36
I really like working with those engineers, which, you know, the Earth is I’ve found sometimes shoot a little soft, especially depending on the lens you use. And there’s no post sharpening or anything like that. And I you know, everything, were very happy considering how small the crew was, how things were about.

Ryan Freng 37:57
Yeah, that was one thing that I thought just the clarity on a lot of this. I was like, I feel like I can, you know, kind of feel the Ursa on this and saw it from the behind the scenes. Maybe that’s what it was. But yeah, just the clarity. Ended up so well. Awesome. Yeah. And what else like fit film treatment? There’s a nice subtle film treatment to I feel like

Nathan Stevens 38:23
Yeah, yeah. And, you know, everything that we did specifically post production, it was it was a complete joint effort. You know, I can’t really take a lot of credit for a lot Eileen have heavily on Matt and we collaborated on like everything. He I had never really been a huge fan of using film grain. But Matt has, he really likes it, and I think it is separate. It just kind of takes that digital edge off of it. And it keeps Yeah, and it’s it was applicable especially for this film, because we use a lot of still images. And I feel like having that film grain just kind of keeps it alive a little bit instead of just a flat, boring, you know, image and so I think it was appropriate I, you we we’ve worked really hard to not do anything that’s distracting and to only you know, shooting away at it in a way color grade in a way that would show the story tell the story without being too gaudy or distracting.

Matthew Roth 39:36
We went back and forth so many times on how to treat photos and how to like treat video and stuff like that is because like we kept trying to think of like different like more creative ways or whatever to show like the archival footage and to show the archive or archival photos and just kind of kept going back to like, what’s the felt right for The story just kind of presented as it is, like we’ve talked about, like, filming photographs and like an environment and some different other different ways of like treating some of these things. But like, I think at the end the end, presenting it as archive, I think worked pretty well. But it was definitely something like, sometimes I feel like we can like over engineer, like, try to be overly, at least myself, like I can try to be like overly creative with something and then like, maybe take it a little too far into like, that’s the most honest if you just kind of presented the way it is. So we had a lot of conversations going back and forth about how to treat those pieces specifically.

Well, that’s an interesting point, too. Like, I feel like you don’t really know how far you should go until you’re like, Oops, that’s too far. That’s too much.

Nathan Stevens 40:46
Yeah, totally. You know, we reached that point many times throughout the process.

Matthew Roth 40:51
So so even even with like, the photographs that you see in the room and stuff, like different places, like we’re trying to think what are the like, real natural environments that something like this would, would be in like her room, for example. And so like putting together the set of her room, I think, that ended up working out pretty well, but trying to like, because we were just kind of racking our brains, like how do we show some of these things, you know, in a more tactile, like, in the world way, without it feeling super, like forced or anything like that. So I think it works pretty well for that. I hope that we’re. But

yeah, and we love kind of that photo treatment, too. I try to do that as much as possible. Like, yeah, we have a bunch of photos, I’m like, Alright, print them, or get us physical copies so that we can do something with it. Because as little as possible, I want to try to do the photo pan and scan, which I think you guys actually did a real good job of the subtlety of it. And I do like that film grain that makes it not feel like a keynote presentation, you know, feels like an integral part of the story, which is nice. So I’m going to steal that. That’s how you doing? Yeah. So yeah, this is obviously a very powerful story. What, what has that been like for you guys?

Nathan Stevens 42:21
Well, I mean, honestly, I feel like Matt and I have had the best experience. Learning from this family story, not only have we had the opportunity of spending a couple of weeks with them during filming, and kind of hearing, you know, other evenings sitting around the dinner table and just, you know, chatting, but also just in post production, you and there’s some very tender emotional moments for multiple family members. And a lot of stuff that I’ve edited, you kind of get become callous to that. But for me, even though I’ve seen it 100 times 1000 times, is still you know, it kind of hit me when when I’ve listened to those parts. And I think that’s kind of the beauty of how open and raw the family were with the interviews, and how impactful it was. So I wish that everybody had the opportunity that Matt and I did to be on this side of it. And to be this, you know, close to the project, because I feel like we got the most out of this than anybody.

John Shoemaker 43:25
Yeah, there were when I when I was watching, and I just kept thinking to myself, what was striking to me how much there were just like waves of emotion that just kind of kept coming, you know, which, you know, you can hit on your well done documentary project. But you know, to keep, I don’t know, it was just really well done. And I don’t I don’t know whether it came through. It’s a combination of factors, obviously. But I don’t know whether it was the pacing of the editing. Or if it was, you know, just obviously, you guys handled the interviews very well too. Because that, you know, to get people to get to that level of comfort, where they are sharing their real stories and sort of like letting their guard down. That can take a while to get to that point with the interview subject. So you clearly did an amazing job on both on both ends there. But yeah, I was feeling just like the waves of emotion through the whole thing like, Oh, this is so good. Yeah, I’ll save another question for another.

Matthew Roth 44:41
I feel like we were really fortunate to be able to spend so much time with the family. Like because yeah, like like we and this is like experiences like this are some of my favorite that I’ve I’ve had the opportunity to experience where you fly out small crew, like They put us up in their house. So we’re just kind of like living, you know, as part of the family for the, for the two weeks, we were there, you know, we’re there for one week and the breaking came back a year later. But I think yeah, in that time, like, the relationship building, like, that was such a, it was such a wonderful thing for like, me as a person to be able to, like, get to know this family, but then I think it did help the film out to, to have had the luxury of having all that that time with them before we actually started rolling the cameras. It’s funny, because I think a couple of times, like the first trip, when we were out there, there was like, this other instinct of me is like, we need to be like, grabbing, like filming things all the time. Like, because we didn’t know what, like these little conversations were having. And yeah, and like, it’s interesting, because I’ve experienced this and other shoots to where the, like, being present with the people that you’re with, like, sometimes when you’re like doing documentary work, or at least for me, I get so focused on capturing these other moments that I miss the actual human interaction that could be going on. Um, and I think like, it’s something I’ve been learning is like, it’s important to like, put the camera down and just like, hang with people, you know, and like, even if you’re not, if you don’t quite get the things that you think you need. Like, it all ends up, or at least, it’s all sort of ended up working out for both this project and some other ones I’m thinking of where that relationship building, like, it turns into something a little bit different, you know, the the story that you’re telling, and so like, and I think like, there’s also the human aspect of like being present with people in their stories, you know, before you start rolling the camera, that is something that I definitely learned quite a bit on this. And then I think the same too, with like, trying to read, you know, pick these moments of what were like the more like cinematic moments to sort of not recreate but like, kind of go back to, I think that helped to having that rapport with the family to sort of get the and not not really performances, but because they’re kind of just remembering the things that happened to them, you know. But getting into that headspace with them. I think the relational capital that was built was pretty huge for that.

Yeah, and that’s, that’s an interesting thing, too, which, maybe with infinite time and infinite budget, it makes more sense. But it makes me think, too, about some of the work we’ve done and how fruitful it’s been when we get a chance to be with somebody for some period of time. Before we shoot with them, you know, because then they can get comfortable, they can let the guards down. And in actually some cases for that when the documentary when we did our documentary a couple years ago, we did a lot of pre interviews over the phone, which is kind of like, okay, let’s hear your story. Let’s shake out the cobwebs. Let’s let’s get through all this so that when we come out, we can get to the real good stuff, and you know, maybe in a bit more raw format. So I think there is something to that. And it’s tough, because would it have been really cool for you to capture some of those moments? Yeah. Could it have negatively impacted some of the other things? Probably possibly, as well. So it’s kind of like a horse of peace? Does the peace need this? Or does it need me to be attentive and engaged right now?

John Shoemaker 48:34
It’s interesting, because documentary filmmaking in general is not like, it’s not efficient. It’s not an efficient way to go about production. But it’s funny, because a lot of what we do in in, I don’t know what percentage of your projects, you know, but a lot of what we do in our daily lives, you know, our line of work is documentary style, you know, telling stories of some sort. And there’s a lot of pressure to do them efficiently because it’s some corporate piece and we’re out there for a couple days and you’ve got these handful of people to hear from and you’re just trying to like fly through the process and establish a little rapport as fast as possible. And then shoot B roll on the fly as you go. Yeah,

Matthew Roth 49:30
mercenary art.

John Shoemaker 49:33
But um, but in terms of I mean, I could even tie it in make even higher connection to like, Christianity, you know, like it’s not, it’s not efficient, like the, like walking with somebody is not efficient. It’s not just like, Okay, I’ve got a five step program for you. We’re gonna hammer this out and you know, several different things. meetings, and by the end of it, you’re going to be set, you’re gonna be ready to get off. Sometimes it’s like, this is going to be years long, like, you know, relationship building with this person and working through a lot of different things and whatever. And then in the case of document documentary filmmaking, you’re like, Well, why don’t we done like? I don’t know. I mean, there’s still obviously more story that you could have told, or that you could, you know, continue on with, at some point, you’ve got to, like, you know, decide that it’s ready to present to people and

Ryan Freng 50:37
yeah, how did the writing go? Did you guys write much beforehand? Or were you just kind of open? And then once you got all the interviews, then you wrote it? Or kind of how was that? That process work?

Matthew Roth 50:48
Yeah, I think it was, we had a pretty good feeling of what we wanted when we went out there for the first time as far as like the interviews were concerned and what we were kind of aiming for, as a narrative. But that definitely changed once we got back and started putting together that first, sort of like a roll cut, before we had shot any visuals. And also, before we had any archival material, we hadn’t really compiled any of the archival material, even when we were putting together like our first aerial cut. And so I think it got like, a feels like the biggest chunk of writing probably happened in that. In that a roll cut. I say that, but then it was like once we got, so we went out, and then we shot all the bureau sequences. But then like, the last night, we were there, I think we were like copying stuff off their hard drives, like it was like, We gotta fly out the next morning. And it’s like midnight, one 1am in the morning. And we’re like copying, feverishly copying stuff off their hard drives. And he’s like finding old tape of the, of his daughter’s when they were like playing basketball is like five and six year olds and all this stuff. And then when, like going into the editing room. Like knit when Nate showed me his first cut, after he put all of those archival pieces in, it was completely a completely different film and felt so much, so much more powerful. And that was another thing that was really interesting to me too about this that I think learning is like the archival pieces, to me, like kind of make the story work in like it wouldn’t what our original vision, if we would have like stuck pretty closely to that. I think we would have missed quite a bit. But may did. And so Nate did an incredible job. Putting that cut together and like telling the story through the archives, the archival pieces that we had like cell phone, video, and old VHS tapes and stuff like that. And by the time that that first cut after that, like when we saw that as like, oh, wow, this really is this really is working.

Nathan Stevens 52:57
So what’s that? You can fish that? Yeah, no, it’s

Matthew Roth 53:02
just interesting to see, like, we had that we also like, there was another part of it, where we were thinking about, like, some of my favorite documentaries I’ve seen have like a really strong visual three line, like, basically, they set up like a visual metaphor for the whole story. And then, you know, like that visual story is sort of like parallel to the actual, like, documentary story. And we had talked about some different concepts with that. And none of that had felt right, you know, but you’re also sort of like it to me, there’s some questions about like, what is cinematic? Because like, we were thinking of these, like, elaborate, you know, visual metaphors and visual stories we could like create as parallels in like during the writing process. And then like when we landed on, I think this needs to be more like, represent, like, representative. It felt like the right decision. But yeah, what is cinematic is an interesting question. Because I think it probably is, whatever, whatever is appropriate for that particular project.

Nathan Stevens 54:11
And another interesting thing that I just wanted to mention was, I mean, we we had an idea going in because we had, we didn’t know their story entirely when we first went out for the interviews. But we checked a bunch of news coverage, I think there were three or four news stations that covered her story. Simultaneously. We talked to as many people as we knew that knew about the story. And so we kind of wrote what we thought would be good, shot the interviews, rewrote what we thought would be good and created an APR cut, and then re wrote again, and then we got very comfortable with what we needed for B roll, shot B roll, changed some things up again. And it’s actually met you can you can kind of elaborate on this if you want to but we actually had a rough cut of the entire film with all the all the archival footage, photos and everything. We had a rough cut. But we had a slew of continuity errors because one thing that we didn’t plan ahead for was when we shot the interviews, it was a year and a half after the accident happened. And Ana’s hair was just below her ears. And one thing we we did the interviews, right, in our interviews, yeah. And one thing we just missed was the fact that when we went out the next time, which was bumped back six months, because of COVID, her hair was literally down here, and her face looked different. And so all the B roll that we had written, to be inter spliced with her interview was very confusing, because we had a couple of producer friend and a director, writer friend, preview it and give creative criticism for us. And we were used to it because we were still married to the project. But for them, it was very distracting, very difficult. So we re re re re wrote it, and changed a lot of things around which is very hard. You know, it’s called Killing your babies, you know. So we asked some stuff, we brought him some new stuff and had to kind of re edit every right like the second half of the entire film, which was a definite struggle.

Ryan Freng 56:30
Yeah, that’s and that’s something to, which is super unique, is like they all look so alike, and not having familiarity with the family. Sometimes I would get confused. And even in the trailer, I was like, Oh, is that ANA? But then after watching the movie, I’m like, okay, that’s the other sister. And then when there’s the I think there’s another sister, right? There’s a third sister. Yeah, and they look so alike. And I and my first thing is like, Wait, is this like an earlier thing or like, you know, it’s only a hair of a second. And it’s just unfortunate that they all look so alike. But that was a funny experience that I had,

Matthew Roth 57:05
which one is on it was interesting, because it made us for the last like once we introduced once we introduced the footage Ivana that we had shot, the second trip out there, with the feedback, everything and we kind of had to make the decision that we weren’t going to cut back to any of her a role anymore to so we wouldn’t be able to confuse people. Well, that was really hard, because like there’s some really like, strong emotive moments that she’s delivering to camera that I would probably have loved to have seen. But that’s also an interesting thing even thinking about now because it’s like, what is what is better seeing the person’s emotion or imagining their emotion as you like, view? As you view like the B roll of them? That’s always an interesting question that I don’t know. It’s like, feels difficult to figure out always what the right answer is like, yeah, you allow the audience to imagine what they’re going through, as they, you know, give those lines or is it more experiential? And you’re in the moment? I don’t know, like, but in this particular case, it kind of forced our hand for some of those lines that probably we would have gotten to, to arrow for but yeah, kind of like I think I kind of like where that happened to like, push us because it did. I think for the last like third of the film, you feel a little bit more locked in because we’re not coming out to the, to the aerial pieces as much. But that was all, I think because of you know, this problem that we had to figure out with, with her own continuity. Yeah, no, it that was an interesting thing that Yeah, completely. We were so close to it that we probably couldn’t see, you know, that problem for what it was and that needs to be fixed.

Ryan Freng 58:53
That’s such a good point that you bring up to about imagination, you know, should someone just be able to imagine it? Should we show it? Obviously, this is a very visual medium. That’s a core component of it, but I think, I think you’re hitting on something. So just cogent, like, what do we love about books, something about a book is that like, you can read something, and you make the best version of it in your mind? Yeah, I read the same thing. And I make the best version in my mind. They’re drastically different. But when you’re on a movie, watching a movie, that’s somebody else’s best version of it. And we’re, you know, assessing or judging. You’re like, Oh, is that kind of what I thought maybe? Yes, maybe no. So that’s a really good point about adding in enough kind of openness to interpret visuals, actually. I mean, you guys did this. And I think that was really great. And I love this type of thing. I’m always telling our editors, I’m like, let me just breathe in a shot. Like give me give me the exterior and just hold on it for a second extra. Don’t cut away as soon as somebody starts talking. Like give me that Give me that drone shot. And it doesn’t need to be two seconds. This isn’t like a sitcom where you got to cut so fast. Like, let me breathe in there. Let me hear this thing. And I can interpret. And I can imagine, you know, some part of this story. So I think you guys did a good job with that in slowing down some of those B roll elements. So, yeah, I think that’s one of the ways you handle that question.

John Shoemaker 1:00:25
Well, that’s a great value of being able to tell a story that, you know, even though it’s a short film, like having 40 minutes to tell the story, as opposed to like, alright, it’s gonna be a 90 seconds to three minutes, you know, we’re like, and there are some really well done, I’ve seen some mini docs that are quite fascinating, but having enough time to, like, just live in the story, and take some time for those moments. Yeah, it’s very satisfying, because we’re all just getting bombarded by way too much information anyway. So just slowing down to spend some time.

Matthew Roth 1:01:04
Yeah, that it was interesting, because we initially envisioned this as being like a 20 minute piece or something at the, at the longest. So this would probably be like, 20 minutes long. And then there definitely were versions that like, we’re watching, like, the 40 Minute cut, and it’s like, we think it’s working, is it working, you know, like, but it’s like, hard to tell at that point. Because you’ve lost a logic, objectivity, you know, because we again, we thought, like, this is a 20 minute story. And so but ended up like kind of growing. And that’s an interesting thing, too, that you’re saying, John, where it’s like, if you let it breathe, sometimes it actually feels like, it feels shorter, because you need that extra couple of seconds, or you’re saying that to Ryan, or it’s like, if you add those extra couple of seconds, like it actually makes it physically longer, but it feels shorter to the viewer, like because the pacing is just corrected. And like a shorter cut may have actually not may have actually felt longer is kind of an interesting and interesting thing.

Yeah, it definitely felt like a real good pace. And what I mean by that is like, I was doing some work last night, and I was trying to watch the movie earlier in the day, but it didn’t work out. So then last night, I was like, Alright, I gotta watch it. And I was like, well, it’s almost bedtime. So I looked at the time, and I was like, oh, man, 40 minutes. At the time, it was long. But then I, you know, I’m two minutes in, and I’m like, I love it. Right, because the pacing, the timing. It was it was well done. And I didn’t feel like 40 minutes or you know, didn’t feel like 20 minutes, it felt like I was just going on a journey, I was having this interactive, emotional adventure. And that’s, that’s what I love in my media.

Thank you Good work, guys.

John Shoemaker 1:03:02
That’s up to in, like, in the world of then trying to connect it, you know, to a commercial market or, you know, having to create a product. You know, because everybody in the corporate world is asking, like, well, what’s the ideal length for this, you know, thing, those rules of thumb, but they don’t have anything to do with this story themselves, they really have to do with like the psychology of the consumer, when they’re skimming through something, and then they look quickly at the, the amount of time this thing will take the watch, and then make a decision. It really doesn’t have anything to do with like, this is another like, thought that I’ve been formulating that I haven’t, you know, put together yet into an argument for business. But it’s not that people’s attention spans like are short, they are, but that’s not the reason for the length. Like, you can get a short attention span to watch a longer story that’s well done. They’re not going to click on it in there, you know, at the end of their lunch break when they’re just trying to like, skim through something and they’re like, Well, I gotta get back to work in five minutes. You know, but they, they might watch it later when they’re ready to like, sit down and watch something. So yeah, there’s just a lot of like, different nuances there with like, what is the right length of something? Some of the TV shows that have been going on recently, are so amazing, like, you know, I don’t want them to end after countless hours of storytelling. You know, this art. This story arc is, you know, days and weeks long. And then sometimes you You’re watching a three minute video and you can’t wait for it to be over. So, yeah,

Matthew Roth 1:05:08
that’s interesting because like you think about like, I’m thinking of certain like Netflix shows because we don’t, we aren’t confined to the 60 Minute block or specials anymore. And it’s like, if the episode needs to be an hour and 15 minutes long it can be if the episode really only needs to be I mean, I’ve seen like some, some episodes of where normally like hour long television, it’s like 37 minutes long or something like that, and you’re like, that just gets shortchanged? No, I think they just like that was the right, you know, size for that. And it is interesting, like, Can Can advertising change in that way? I don’t know. Like, that’d be kind of interesting. Like, do we have to be like so like, focused in obviously with television in the past with 32nd spots and things like that you had to be but I wonder like, no,

they’re coming for you.

They are if those same rules apply, I mean, some of the things I liked about watching the work that the two of you you make is that you let things breathe in a lot of like your documentary work and like really get to kind of know the characters that you’re dealing with. I was just watching the one about the the guy who won the ADDIE that she did recently. You know what I’m talking about like the he like won a silver

Addy I think is a George. Or there’s

John Shoemaker 1:06:31
Harvey and did like the Ford truck ads Harvey.

Matthew Roth 1:06:36
Yeah, that’s, I really enjoyed that piece. Because you you guys let it like breathe for a little bit, like longer? And like you could really get to know the characters. And yeah, I really enjoyed that. That piece of cake did. So yeah, but yeah.

John Shoemaker 1:06:52
I think there’s something about, I will often tell our clients this, like, if you’re interrupting somebody from whatever they were doing, and trying to put something in their face to tell them about your product, the length of that thing. I have this much attention span for you. Like, okay, I’m putting up with it, like you better entertain me very quickly, or just give me the most basic facts to tell me that there’s a sale on this thing. And it used to be this much analysis much. And if I was looking for that, maybe you’ve got me, but any longer than that, like I was doing something else. And you like, you know, interrupted what that was. But if you are, and again, this is a this is a story for stories, say but but if you’re telling a story, even if it is related to something, you know, a marketing effort, branding effort, or whatever, and you allow the viewer to decide that they want to engage in this story. Well now, and then if you’re going to tell a good story, now I have a long period of time for you. You know, there’s a lot of YouTube channels. I see the trend on YouTube, you know, because they see that, like, yeah, you do it well, like people want the content. So I have a lot of stuff that I’m like, halfway through and I’ve just paused. I’m like, I’ll come back to it later. I can’t watch it all right now, but I’m like, save this for later. That’s kind of like consuming it almost like I’m consuming a book or an article or something where it’s like,

Ryan Freng 1:08:41
YouTube is that like, like tick tock but bigger.

John Shoemaker 1:08:45
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, there’s, there’s less young women and more clothing.

Matthew Roth 1:08:56
Think we got to get you on tic tac Gen, so

John Shoemaker 1:08:58
you can know exactly what

Nathan Stevens 1:09:02
you get for the world? Yeah.

Matthew Roth 1:09:04
So we are kind of winding down here. Before we play our ending game. We’re just kind of getting into this content. But kind of one of one of the big questions I have is like what was I don’t know your most your most favorite memory from this whole filmmaking experience, or, you know, what sticks out in your mind is like this. This was just awesome.

Nathan Stevens 1:09:29
I think for me, I’m going to be sneaking kind of two things into one. The biggest thing was, was the camaraderie that we were able to have the relationship we were able to develop with the family. And it was really cool to not only tell their story, but feel like we are a part of their story now. In a very small way. Being able to feel like We’re very close friends after, you know, you do so many business deals, we have a business relationship with a client. And it’s good, this is awesome. This is just on a whole new level, like, it was just instant, when we first arrived, you know, first got picked up at the airport, in Portland, it was just, we were just good friends already, and being able to build a relationship with them that way, and then take part in their story, instead of just, hey, here’s a, you know, a mirror of their story, we’re just gonna, you know, just bounce it off of us. And we felt like, their story went through us. And then it came out of us, in a way not to be too cheesy, but I just really enjoyed the ability, we had to become close friends with them, and be able to take their their openness, their vulnerability, and display it in a way that they are happy with, which was a terrifying thing. The first time they watched it. But yeah, that was kind of the coolest thing to me, you know, you do a lot of projects. And a lot of it feels kind of businessy. You know, you get the shots, you do the edit, you deliver the deliverables. But this was much more of a personal thing for both Matt and myself. And it felt like we’re going on vacation, even though they were, yeah, 12 to 18 hour days, it was just a lot of fun.

Matthew Roth 1:11:29
I think you have become, you’ve talked about camaraderie. But I mean, I love I love when you can make a crew as small as possible. And you can go to, you know, like, traveling traveling crews of like three or four people, it’s a tough thing to do. But when you configure something like that out and still get like really, really great results, like there’s nothing more fun than I don’t know, like, Nate and I were working on a piece recently where we like, yeah, we’re just hanging out before sunrise waiting for the sun to come up. So we can film this, you know, this, this, this landscape or whatever. And it’s just like, those kinds of moments where you’re both like, it’s work, but you’re enjoying it. And you’re like, this is this is so cool that I get to do this. I mean, like, we were like driving around the countryside, getting plates one day for like, like the drone work some of the drone shots and stuff like that. And it’s like, it does, like, it’s it’s a lot of like long hours, but it feels like vacation. And especially when you get to like, the people that you work with are, it’s such an important piece, like, I mean, being able to enjoy, like working with each other. And like that’s one of the things that’s been so awesome about. Like, Nate is like one of my best friends and being able to, you know, for us to be able to hang out. Well, you know, making work is it’s pretty fun. And then if I can add a second one too. Yeah. The experience with a family and like that’s the other part is like getting to know people that you would never like film brings you together with these people that you would never probably you know No. Otherwise in your life and those relationships and like, yeah, those are those are hard things to be

John Shoemaker 1:13:30
one other question I’m very curious about it’s a little different angle. Do you prefer documentary or narrative filmmaking?

Matthew Roth 1:13:43
Love it?

Nathan Stevens 1:13:50
Yeah, sure. I mean, that’s, that’s really tough, because, you know, I love them both. We would never be able to either.

Matthew Roth 1:13:59

Nathan Stevens 1:14:01
The safest political answer.

Matthew Roth 1:14:04
No, my biggest my biggest, you know, challenge is that I care too much.

Nathan Stevens 1:14:10
Too hard. Think, boy, John, that’s a tough one. I’m going to make you answer this afterwards.

But it’s, you know, you’d never be able to do something like fight like on it. If it was just a narrative piece. I feel like we kind of did a job of making it kind of narrative is a document is a narrative documentary, in a sense. There’s something about planning out shots with talent, and directing them and getting the shot and taking it over and over and over again, there’s some there’s something beautiful about that. If you do it into it’s the way you imagine it. And then you know, the final product is, is your true maybe both documentary filmmaking. There’s just so many other things that are so intriguing to me, you know, the rawness of things and how we have this game plan going in. And then it’s, you know, flipped upside down because of some events that we didn’t know about or the answers that we received. And so it’s kind of like casting a big fishing net out. But you’re only allowed to use whatever fish you bring in. So it’s so much different. And if I had to pick one, I probably have to take a little more time to make that decision, because that’s so I love them both. But there’s just special places in my heart for for both of them. I

Ryan Freng 1:15:31
love what they give you. What if I give you a countdown? What if I say you got to pick in three to one?

Nathan Stevens 1:15:36
Documentary? Yeah,

Matthew Roth 1:15:37
there it is. Yeah,

Nathan Stevens 1:15:38
I’d have to, I think the number one thing that would make me make that choice is just its truth. As reality, telling a story was fantastic. Because going into it, we had all these cinematic and really cool, abstract ideas to bring to the table. And none of it was appropriate for for telling her story. So there’s something powerful about being able to tell a story, you’re kind of taking part in into that we’re kind of walking alongside of the Wakefield family during their trial. Spreading the word, there’s something special about that.

Matthew Roth 1:16:16
I, I think for me, there’s like that which is most satisfying to create. And that which is most enjoyable experientially, probably like, I, like Nate, like Nate was saying, like, there’s something to like, here’s the thesis of what I think this film is supposed to be. And this shots gonna lead in the shot into this shot into this shot. And we’re gonna film all these things together and see if our thesis was right. And like, when it works, like, that’s pretty, that’s a pretty great feeling, where it’s like, the thing that I had in my head, I can now see on screen like, that’s, like, that’s probably the most like artistically satisfying to me is like when those kinds of things work. But like the discovery process of documentary, and the people like being able to meet people that you wouldn’t get to meet and spend time with people and like, the relationship building that happens in like, it is the right and left turns that are tossed at you are pretty fun to try to, like navigate like, I think for if we’re talking like just the experience, I think probably documentary film is, is like the most fun in that, in that regard. Something that I one thing that I’ve tried and been really interested in trying to figure out is like, how to kind of blur the lines a little bit between the two of them. Both ways, like where, you know, I saw this great, short a couple of years ago, you guys watch Solomon light homes work at all.

I don’t recognize the name.

He used to work for. He used to be one of the directors and variable but he had this. He had this one piece where it was like definitely like a narrative story that he was telling. But the characters that he cast, the people that he cast for the roles were had gone through those, like narrative experiences they had they had done like that was the life that they had lived through. So he was casting people rather than actors almost like what they did with like Nomad, Lion. So like this kind of like blurring the lines between the two of them, I think is a really interesting space that I’m kind of curious about exploring a little bit more.

Yeah, John, what? What’s your answer on that?

John Shoemaker 1:18:38
I think it’s documentary for the reasons of that discovery. Because well, yeah, it is a hard thing. Because it’s like, well, you know, that I suppose you can find it. There was not a lot of documentary that I’ve seen that’s like very humorous, you know, a lot of comedy and stuff. And so I get to, like play in that world more when we’re doing you know, narrative, scripted work. There are some good ones. Ryan, did you put me on to that one about the the magician. Oh,

Ryan Freng 1:19:26
I I did recommend it, but somebody at the office might have recommended

John Shoemaker 1:19:31
it to me. It’s recommended the amazing

Matthew Roth 1:19:34
Jonathan. Yeah. Amazing, Johnny.

John Shoemaker 1:19:37
If you haven’t seen that, yeah, you want to see it? Actually, that was probably a Charlie recommendation. Yeah, talking about discovery process. That one is amazing in a discovery process where like, you think you’re making one documentary? The documentary starts breaking the fourth wall because basically the filmmaker is just like, kind of inserts himself into it. Like, this is insane, I cannot figure out what’s going on. I thought I was making this. I don’t know if I’m getting conned. Now there’s other like, there’s other film crews showing up also making documentaries at at the same time about the guy that he thought he was being hired. It’s amazing. It’s on Hulu. There’s Matthew, to your point that there’s a series that was on Netflix, just called Mars. Where they were they have the narrative. And they keep cross cutting to like, interviews with like, celebrities and whatnot. So it’s like, there’s interviews that are like documentary. But they’re like, cross cut with a narrative of the show. And it’s as though they were like referring to what was going on, you know,

Matthew Roth 1:20:59
conflicts. It’s, it was National Geographic. Where, who has it, though, because it was somewhere for free.

John Shoemaker 1:21:07
It had been on Netflix, I don’t know if it is, anymore. Yeah, so and then the other one that is not documentary, but for some reason, it just made me think of it is broad church. And specifically, because of the what I read about the way that they would go into a lot of scenes, where he would lead, the director would not let the actors see the house that they were going into, before the scene or something, he would put a extreme importance on like, first takes, most of what is in the show ended up being first takes, because he was so interested in getting the genuine reactions from people. And maybe that gets to part of the answer that I’m giving about documentary because what we’re chasing when we do a narrative is truth. So like, it’s, the narratives are more satisfying to us and better when the performances and the scenes and everything are more like truth, or just feel more like, you know, legitimate connection with people. So maybe I just haven’t had the benefit to. In the Midwest, we don’t. And in the probe the level of production that we do, we’re not working always with like, super experienced als actors, you know, on all of our corporate pieces and stuff. So maybe I’m just

Matthew Roth 1:22:49
maybe it’s hard. Yeah.

John Shoemaker 1:22:52
We had more connection to that. But the tough questions.

Matthew Roth 1:22:55
So I’m going to jump into but real quick, I want to I want to prep you guys. So let’s do this real quick.

So we’re gonna play a game called True two truths and a lie. So you guys got to come up with three stories. And I will tell my answer to this while you guys come up with this. I’ll give you a minute to come up with stuff. But you come up with two stories that are true. One story that’s not true. And you tell it to us and we got to guess what, what the answer is. And if you’re playing along at home, we’ll send you some coasters to celebrate happy hour with us. Also, real quick. Aaron Williams was asking Nate, when was the last time you put a paper suit? Put on a paper suit to film something? I’m sure there’s a very valid reason you put on a paper suit.

Nathan Stevens 1:23:47
A paper suit.

Ryan Freng 1:23:50
What exactly Oh, Aaron Williams. Aaron Williams. He’s a guy from Janesville. We’ve done a lot of short stuff with him and creative stuff.

Nathan Stevens 1:24:04
Interesting. I’m probably so I did just do a shoot for Mercy Health in Janesville, with drywall to production, Steven Pickering and dry water production and I put on a big ol bunny suit, and beautiful hairnet and masks and everything like that shooting in it or I’m wondering, and that’s probably what they’re referring to. I’ve never heard of called Paper suit. So I was I was thrown off there for a little bit. But that’s that’s probably what we’re talking about. It

Ryan Freng 1:24:28
was I’m assuming it’s just made of toilet paper. That’s, that’s what I was assuming it was sexy. Aaron, if you’re there, give us more context. Okay, so you guys think about your three stories. And I’ll tell my answer to this question. So my answer given like a choice of like, hey, what do you want to do next week, it would be documentary. I think it’s also low, slower stress, because you don’t have to have a perfect idea and everyone’s okay with it being fluid and changing it The one kind of caveat. So my, my answer would be documentary. I do really love narrative. It’s just way more stressful to me. And I love what you can do with it and how you can craft it and how you can put it out there. But there is something to the fact that it sometimes doesn’t turn out exactly how you want it to for various reasons. And when you’re selling that to someone that’s really hard. You know, like with a documentary, you’re like, Okay, well, let’s, I don’t know, we’ll change this. So we’ll take this out, we’ll add that back in. But when you have a 32nd commercial, and everything is time, so specifically, you’re like, well, the actor didn’t deliver it well, and we all went through the interviews, and we’re all on the shoot. And we tried to do our best and we didn’t get it. And so it’s just going to be what it is. So I feel like with narratives, you end up just accepting some less good things than in an era or in a documentary where you’re like, yeah, we’ll just switch it out, we’ll change it. You know, you have more flexibility and less maybe pressure or stress.

John Shoemaker 1:26:11
Narrative ends up being more like documentary than you would think it is. You end up having to just work with whatever it was that you actually got.

Matthew Roth 1:26:25
Yeah. And people don’t realize that, you know, they’re like, No, it’s got to be perfect. And you’re like, well, it’s going to be what it is, and we’re gonna do the best and it’s gonna be awesome. Also, my wife brought these down. I don’t know if you guys know, I think today’s National Donut Day.

John Shoemaker 1:26:40
So are we missing National Donut?

Matthew Roth 1:26:44
I’ll send you I’ll send you a photo so we can post it. This is according to my looking at over here. I’ll show you. I do this wonder Dad thing. And so they give us Fun, fun things to do. And today they said was National Donut Day.

John Shoemaker 1:27:00
National Day calendar.

You have done it on there. Right? It’s Donut Day.

It’s also Jersey Friday, and I’m not making this up. It’s love your red hair day.

Matthew Roth 1:27:14
There we go. John,

we can do it.

John Shoemaker 1:27:18
So Ryan. That’s what I’m trying to say.

Ryan Freng 1:27:25
I got it. No one came to my home office though. That was why I like didn’t get on until 1150 Because I had to like stop and get the doughnuts on my way back from dropping them off.

Nathan Stevens 1:27:35
I didn’t know you had

John Shoemaker 1:27:36
doughnuts. I want to come over man. This is a huge, huge miss.

Matthew Roth 1:27:42
I almost actually have the office.

John, we need to have a party later. Yes.

Ryan Freng 1:27:51
All right. So you guys ready for teachers and ally. And I won’t play it’ll just be you guys. Oh, boy. You better go first.

Nathan Stevens 1:28:04
So I guess I’ll relate it towards a fight like the documentary. A little behind the scenes. So three stories. One, we hired a drone operator to shoot some of our drone work downtown Portland. And it it fell out of the sky and landed into the river in Portland. Number one. Number two, we accidentally deleted a card from a half day of shooting. And number three, we missed a flight because Matt had to get his morning coffee

Matthew Roth 1:28:51
at McDonald’s.

Ryan Freng 1:28:58
Oh man, if it was anywhere but McDonald’s. I’d be like, Oh, maybe it was worth it. But come on. Actually, McDonald’s is one of the places that my wife will allow herself to get coffee from when we travel. She’s very particular. It’s like it’s got to be a nice coffee shop or McDonald’s. It can’t be a gas station. I don’t get it. I actually do follow. I follow that. Like mirror

Matthew Roth 1:29:27
for what they do McDonald’s does. This is not an endorsement from McDonald’s coffee. Yeah, you did you perfectly adequate compared

to other that’s what she says.

Nathan Stevens 1:29:37
Matt. Matt is selling my stories here.

Ryan Freng 1:29:41
Yeah, so we got you hired a drone operator and it fell out of the sky land in the river. accidentally deleted a card from a half day of shooting. missed a flight because man had to get his morning coffee at McDonald’s. These are really good. You told really good stories because of the specifics. There’s enough specifics

Matthew Roth 1:29:56
in them. I’m good.

Ryan Freng 1:30:00
We’ll see now you probably didn’t full mat. Like that would have been the challenge would be the full map because you can easily fool us. Let’s see. So, John, what do you think?

John Shoemaker 1:30:16
I’m gonna go with the drone one because I feel like when he was talking about drone before we might have, we might have heard about that there might have been a slip up of sharing a little bit more detail about that drone story. They used a nice drone, they wouldn’t have wanted to lose one of those. We’ve done it. We’ve all done it. We’ve all put it in the water. But the card oh man cards are easy to delete. And that’s, that’s a tough part of filmmaking. So that’s pretty believable. They’re all fairly believable. I also don’t know what Matt’s coffee situation and problem is like. So I’m really left in the dark there. I’m gonna go up the drone.

Matthew Roth 1:31:09
You’re gonna go with drone? Yeah, it’s tough. I think to any of these could have happened on a different project because part of the story was that you said this happened on fight like on so I’m gonna say I’m gonna say you didn’t actually delete a card, because I feel like you might have told us that as well. Maybe that was a different project. That’s my guess. Let’s see Matt. Do you know the answer?

I do. I’m a little bit I’m a little bit offended that I would value McDonald’s coffee to that to that level. I mean, if it was like, if it was Tokyo coffee in Milwaukee then maybe this would be true, but

Nathan Stevens 1:31:56
it probably hurts more because it could totally happen.

Matthew Roth 1:32:01
Insert different thing than McDonald’s.

Nathan Stevens 1:32:03
To answer your question, John Yeah, Matt is what I like to call it coffee bread.

Matthew Roth 1:32:10
But that is a you just stuck it to him with the McDonald’s here.

Nathan Stevens 1:32:12
Yeah, I threw him under the bus. I’m sorry buddy. Be nice. That’s all we did. We did not miss a flight No. Okay, that was a fabrication that we did crash the drone into the lake. Which

Matthew Roth 1:32:28
floaty or anything on it?

Nathan Stevens 1:32:30
No, no. It sucked more or less about the money it cost to replace it and more all the footage that we weren’t having to get back. And then I think it was to make up for it is why Matt and I drove around Oregon shooting plates. We just this looks great. How about sticks shoot, it jumped out again. We did that for like a half day. Last minute wreck for place on a Friday and we had some shooting in the afternoon in the hustle I don’t know why I never format a card on set unless an AC says strike it and I format a card and and we lost all that so it’s just the B roll footage that was just never meant to be wow so if you see a lot of drone footage used in in the film that’s that’s why we we lost everything else

Ryan Freng 1:33:35
man I feel your pain that’s awesome stories though. All right, Matt You’re

Matthew Roth 1:33:44
when I was a child I went to NASA Space Camp and almost met John Glenn but it didn’t happen I when I I want I want dressed up like a lie. I want to form in a civil war uniform and marched around Stoughton Wisconsin with like the old like musket and stuff. And I really bad at this game.

Let me think of one more

true story. And I once I once almost made a feature film in the country of Kyrgyzstan

who who’s a what? What’s what country

the country wants? Almost made a feature film in the country of curious.

Ryan Freng 1:34:52
Curious down here here gets stung. Kyrgyzstan, okay. Barely not something I’m from miliar with All right, so we got as a child who went to NASA camp and almost met John Glenn, dressed up in a civil war uniform and marched around Stoughton. That sounds very much like what you guys were talking about. For your first films are First off, he made almost made a future film or a feature film in the country of Kyrgyzstan. I got an email, we got an email, and I’ve been emailing this guy back and forth. It sounds ridiculous, but he keeps replying. So it’s fun. He’s like, I’m an acclaimed filmmaker. Here’s my IMDB page. And I need, you know, I need a production company to help me out, blah, blah, blah. Here’s more details. And then when I followed up with a question, he sent me this whole huge, long email, and was like, Yeah, it’ll be three days, nine hours a week. 3k a day. I’m like, you know, it sounds like you don’t understand how math works. It’s all sounds made up. So I sent a nice email back. I’m like, hey, this sounds really nuts. So. So I don’t know if you’re fishing or what this email is, but I’m just curious, like, what the, what the game is here. He hasn’t gotten back to me. But that’s the Kyrgyzstan. Like, yes, we’re gonna hire you for this film. It’s in a country you cannot find on a map and you do not know where it is. But it’s, it’s real. And we will pay you will only work nine hours a week, three hours a day, and we’ll pay you $3,000 a day.

John Shoemaker 1:36:33
I mean, let’s do it. We’ll lose the money if we don’t do this.

Matthew Roth 1:36:42
So Aaron says last one. What do you got? John

John Shoemaker 1:36:48
had brought doughnuts. Oh, she’s outside can get something. Ooh, she’s got a surprise. Not donuts. She probably also doesn’t know that it’s a day to celebrate my red hair.

Matthew Roth 1:37:02
Right? Right.

John Shoemaker 1:37:07
Okay, let’s see. I’m gonna go with the you were so smooth on the delivery of the second one. And then the delay on the third one, you know, would make you think that one but I looked up Kyrgyzstan and it’s a place you know you’re involved in in probably like mission work and stuff. So maybe that maybe that would be I’ve had a few different people I’ve known over the years who have been involved in mission work and churches and have set out to make films in those places. I’m gonna go with the Civil War because although it’s believable, it’s also just off of the idea of world war two or one or whatever it was. It wasn’t civil war that you talked about. So that’s the one I’m going with

Ryan Freng 1:38:01
who I’m gonna go with Aaron’s Turkistan one, Kyrgyzstan. Because he does an elbow cough. And he was right the last time I don’t have a good reason. Those are those could be all very good lies. Let’s see. So Nate, do you know?

Nathan Stevens 1:38:20
I do. Should I say it?

Ryan Freng 1:38:25
Yes. Okay. Matt can give us the stories. We’re lucky.

Nathan Stevens 1:38:29
The The lie is Basecamp Basecamp.

Ryan Freng 1:38:34
Oh, I say this as a compliment. But I believe that you would go to Space Camp. Thank you. I always wanted to I always wanted to go to space camp, but it never worked out in the cards.

Matthew Roth 1:38:47
I would I would also have loved to have gone to space camp. It’s an unfulfilled unfulfilled dream, though. Yeah.

John Shoemaker 1:38:56
They all seem obvious in hindsight,

Matthew Roth 1:38:58
right? i Yeah. Civil War one definitely true. I like bought all the gear that I wanted to be a reenactor as I when I was a little kid, my mom like this probably goes into the whole writing stories thing made me like a costume because I was obsessed with the Civil War really specific and would go around fighting battles in my head. That was real only lasted one time that I couldn’t I couldn’t do all the marching all day it was too much. Much like real work. And then hopefully it will happen at some point in the future. But Nate and I almost did a low budget feature in Kyrgyzstan earlier this year. We’ll see. Possibly, we’ll see. We’ll see.

Ryan Freng 1:39:47
Is it narrative or documentary?

Matthew Roth 1:39:49
It would be nice if we, if we can figure it out. So but that fell through for a few different reasons, but mainly COVID Mainly COVID

John Shoemaker 1:40:01
Yeah Ryan’s not Brian’s fishing Lee doesn’t bring us to Kyrgyzstan at first

Matthew Roth 1:40:11
was was a specific country met

Ryan Freng 1:40:13
mentioned right? No, he said he’s an American filmmaker and I looked him up and his email and everything that He sent His looks legit but I’m like this could be a really well put together like cat fishing or fishing. I don’t think he’s catfishing me but like fishing scheme so I’m just like, This is ridiculous. Like Tell me more cool so thank you guys so much for jumping on we might we might just need like a part two documentary filmmaking even though we talked for like an hour and a half I feel like these conversations are never long enough but that’s why I appreciate you guys and I appreciate you coming on Is there anything that we can plug for you? Anything we can plug for you? I think we’ve got I can throw up the this There we go.

Matthew Roth 1:41:10
Yeah, I mean, yeah, I love love for people to see go out into the air go out. I wish it was out. Go home and watch the film on your television. I would love to that’d be great. It’s a it’s a really inspiring story.

Ryan Freng 1:41:26
Yeah, John and I second that is definitely a great watch and it’s a fast 40 minutes or something. Sit down grab a snack. It’ll be great. I also love to that it takes you to a place emotionally that hopefully you don’t have to go to in your real life you know that’s why I love crazy movies. Because I don’t want to deal with that in real life. But I love dealing with it in stories Yeah, anything else? What else? You want to plug anything? I didn’t get the time to look up you guys probably have a website right you guys have your own websites I know that

Nathan Stevens 1:42:01
Yeah, yeah. So the fight like on a documentary kind of gave birth to shadow hope films and that’s kind of the the name that we’re gonna go under. doing more work like this going forward. The site is under construction so can’t really plug the site just

Ryan Freng 1:42:20
yet you got a little diggy man I not that cool. What’s your good days? Awesome. Well, we also do a podcast this will be a podcast maybe in six months or so. You can check that out let’s back Lubeck comm let’s back up show or wherever your podcasts are sold Apple, Google Play Spotify, Stitcher, zipline tinsel town. Stream deck cup. I don’t know. We’re in all the things Amazon check it out there. And that’s what we got. John, you got anything else for me?

John Shoemaker 1:43:01
Just stay up tick tock.

Ryan Freng 1:43:05
Guys, you gotta say it properly. John.

Unknown Speaker 1:43:09
Stay off the tick tock.

Matthew Roth 1:43:10
Oh, he’ll go blind.

John Shoemaker 1:43:13
I thought there was gonna be some sort of slang term that I was supposed to know.

Ryan Freng 1:43:18
No, guys and enjoy your National Donut Day. Thank you so much. Oh, yeah. So awesome. Thanks guys so much for coming on. We’ll see you next time.

Nathan Stevens 1:43:31
Yeah, we talking bye.

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Ryan Freng
Owner and creative director. Shall we begin like David Copperfield? 'I am born...I grew up.' Wait, I’m running out of space? Ah crap, ooh, I’ve got it...