The Way of Snow
By Justin Calen Chiang (www.thewayofsnowfilm.com
The things you don’t say can destroy you. That was the tagline for my debut feature, a no-budget affair titled The Way of Snow. Little did I know that by saying nothing throughout the making of this film, I would encounter so many heartbreaks. Maybe that’s dramatic, but to me, they were.
That being said, this film was all self financed by me, which wasn’t much because I would only shoot on film, Super 16. I swept floors, sold phones, stacked books, used student loans and sold my precious 1,000 DVDs to finance it. Also, due to the unforeseen dropout of many crew members, this film was shot almost entirely with a two person crew. Me and a friend. After getting commitments, the sound mixer suddenly never returned emails, the composer disappeared, and the camera operator/DP just… flaked at the last minute. Also, two LEAD actors left. I figured the reason was because with a production this small, it was difficult for people to commit to the film, time and energy wise. I ended up having to take the lead acting role as well as all the other ones that had been vacated.
Unfortunately for me, the strain of wearing so many hats on the production such as being the main grip caused me to suffer a severe vomit-inducing neck injury as well as a skin infection and a hip and knee injury. I could barely walk at times and my neck injury was reaching dangerous levels, according to my doctor (whom I saw only a long while after production). She said I was lucky something didn’t happen. My dolly? Made from Home Depot and roller skate wheels. As for post-production, I did it all myself, which included editing, sound mixing and manually synching the dialogue by eye. Never do this with compressed vertebrae. Very dangerous.
Also, I had to adapt to a lot of changes on the fly, which included a script and shooting style overhaul at the last minute before shooting. Due to a limited budget (under $20,000), we shot only one or two takes, which was amazing considering the heavy dramatic material. In the end, I was the writer, director, DP, editor, composer, grip, production designer and lead actor. And my friend, Sharon? She took the rest. God bless her.
“Why, Justin, why?” Well, I gutted it out because I had a story and I had to tell it. Plain and simple. I guess that’s what moviemakers do. All in all, you can’t question the determination. And, if you look closely, you can see the blood and vomit drops stain the celluloid. Just kidding.