For his first narrative short film, John and Claudia, aspiring local filmmaker David Redish looked to the 1970s — both the decade itself and the films of the era.
“We wanted it so that it looked like a film made in the ’70s,” he says. “There were a lot of ‘lost love’ stories coming out then, like Bonnie and Clyde, that were pretty cutting-edge. We wanted to pay homage to that style of filmmaking.”
John and Claudia, about a drifter and a small-time belle in West Texas, was shot during the course of a week in Marfa and Whitewright. The wide-open landscape shots highlight the vast, windswept beauty of the area.
“We wanted it to feel very nostalgic,” Redish says. “Whether you’re 10 or 80, we wanted it to feel like it’s part of your past.”
The short, running at eight minutes and 40 seconds, follows the story of drifter John (played by Zach La Vey) and Claudia (played by Allegra Lucchesi). Their doomed love story revolves around a bank heist gone wrong. To highlight the passion of young love, the film is full of vibrant reds set against the classic blues and golds of the world these two inhabit.
“We wanted it to feel very nostalgic,” Redish says. “Whether you’re 10 or 80, we wanted it to feel like it’s part of your past. It’s a mix of feeling like you’re dreaming combined with some gritty parts.”
Redish is one half of Slice Media, a Dallas video firm that has primarily worked on commercials thus far. Working with his partner, Cesar Jasso, and fellow Texan and writer Matthew Miller, Redish spent several months in preproduction before shooting in March 2013.
The move to narrative work brought with it several new obstacles to overcome.
“When we do a commercial, it’s two or three days of shooting for a 30-second ad. You’re done with the whole thing in a month,” Redish says. “A project like this ... is a totally different time commitment. You really have to invest your entire life into it.”
With only a cast of two, Redish was positive that he wanted to get the roles casted properly. Lucchesi came on first to play Claudia after an audition in Los Angeles against 25 other actresses.
"We knew who Claudia was," Redish says. "We knew she was going to be the hero of the story and that a lot was going to fall on her shoulders. Allegra was perfect for the role, and her openness to direction made it an easy job."
For the role of John, Redish says that the process was a little more difficult. Redish says he wasn’t sure who exactly John was supposed to be, besides a drifter and robber. But they found La Vey and slowly began to form a more concrete idea of the character.
“Zach said something that really made me see him in the role,” Redish says. “He told me ‘I think John is like a coyote. They’re loners, scavengers that are afraid.’ That’s what you want out of an actor — someone who can take words on a page and make it their own.”
The third character of the film is John’s red 1967 GTO. Redish says that they wanted a car that connected people to the time and attitude of West Texas. He also wanted a car that was too nice for someone like John to actually have.
“In a period piece, technology is the benchmark,” Redish says. “We’re kind of aware that he’s stolen this car. When you see the film, it has its own arc and takes the story full circle. It’s more than a vehicle to get from A to B.”
For now, Slice Media is submitting the film to festivals, including South by Southwest and Sundance, while also hoping to include it in local events like the Dallas International Film Festival. If producers like what they see, it could turn into a feature-length film.
Redish also plans to shoot another short. The untitled film is a coming-of-age story set in modern-day Dallas. Because it will be less intensive than a period piece shot on location, Slice plans to have it done by the end of 2013.
“John and Claudia had a lot of moving parts,” Redish says. “This next one is more down to earth. It's about championing coming of age in Dallas and our experiences growing up here.”