The work of director Jordan Chesney first caught my attention when I spoke to him a couple years back for No Film School about his ‘short before the short’ Jet – which saw him complete a practice run, zero budget short in a day that went on to serve as the template for his short proper a few months later in lieu of a script. Since then I’ve kept a keen eye on his work as both a director and a cinematographer. So when he released his brief, but oh so intriguing new short Cahoots, I jumped at the chance to have Chesney explain just how he turned an actor audition into a strange poolside VFX encounter.
I made Cahoots very quickly, with the exception of the FX. Originally the shoot was a means to audition Alina Phillips for a different role, but I don’t like auditioning in the traditional sense so I came up with a very easy to execute idea and shot Cahoots within 30 minutes. It was the quickest production I’ve ever done. Concept to creation was less than 12 hours. However, the FX took an incredibly long time. It wasn’t fun to do the post work, but I find filmmaking to be mostly hard work and less fun creativity, all around. I guess it depends on what kind of films people make, but mine are mostly lots of work.
Anyways, I was auditioning Alina for a short I was hoping to do called The Thief, but I decided not to make it. Instead I decided to release Cahoots. It’s a very personal story, that’s not really supposed to be understood, not easily anyways. It’s really a metaphor for a personal experience that I recently had with my wife and close friend…and evil. When I was coming up with the idea and shooting it, I didn’t really realize what I was articulating, but then months later I found that the film had kind of predicted things in my life…it was very strange. I realized that I was kind of warning myself through the story and the casting. I was trying to come to grips with these personal struggles and put that energy into the film instead of dealing with it. I don’t want to explain what each part of the film means, but these things should give some insight as to why I made it, and maybe that helps.
I’m very, very happy with the music in the film. This is my first time working with my close friend David LaChance Jr., and I couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out. He’s incredibly talented, and easy to work with. We had a lot of back and forth to make it a very specific piece of music. I hope to work with him again for sure.
I used the Digital Bolex on the shoot, which is all I shoot with these days. It’s the best camera I’ve ever worked with, for a lot of reasons. It’s a 2K, RAW, Super 16mm Digital Camera. Because of the C-Mount I could shoot with older lenses, which I love, and because of the Global Shutter I could go hand held without it looking like total garbage. Those two qualities alone make it stand out. I encourage every filmmaker out there to get their hands on one. They are absolutely amazing! Joe Rubinstein, the CEO of Digital Bolex is so friendly and helpful. He personally helps me out with each shoot I do, letting me borrow this or that, giving me tips, promoting the films. He’s a great guy. Digital Bolex runs very differently from your average corporation selling gear.
I gave Alina $160 for her time, but other than that the film cost nothing to make…except for time. I’m very fortunate to have friends that let me shoot at their homes, borrow their gear, help out on set etc. Makes a huge difference.
Currently I’m working on a new short called Fighting for Lucy, starring Sofia Banzhaf, Elisha Yaffe, and Zack Cookman. I shot it back in January and now that Cahoots is done I can start cutting it together. It’s a story of love, stupidity, and violence. I’m also working with my good friend Charles Pieper on his upcoming short film, Malacostraca.
He has an amazing mind and I love collaborating with him. I’ll be DPing and editing the film. Additionally, I’ve recently picked music back up, and I’m working on a new album I’ll be releasing in 2016 called “Dessin’ Like A Pastor. I’ve posted some of my old music and new demo tracks on my website.