Responses by Dale Austin and Brandon Curl, creative directors, GSD&M
Background: The goal of the three-minute short film “A Man Like You” was to help evolve the conversation on what it means to be a man today. Traditionally, there’s a narrow definition for how a man is supposed to act or feel. Harry’s wants to help men define masculinity on their own terms and allow them to embrace the parts of themselves that have traditionally been considered off-limits for guys.
Reasoning: We wanted to make something that connected with people—that made them feel and think. And the story of an alien learning what it means to be a man as a complete outsider felt like an interesting way to ask the questions we may take for granted. Then, having the boy be the one to teach him is what really grounded the story for us.
Challenges: Writing the script and getting it down to three minutes. We went through several drafts asking ourselves, “If you spent a day with an alien, where would you take him?” Another hard part was culling the script down from seventeen pages to about four to five. Fortunately, we had a very collaborative client who worked with us in the writer’s room to come to the best possible version of the story.
Favorite details: How the score turned out. We worked with a brilliant young composer named Riley Hughes, whose music helped to elevate the story. We had a temp track that we were using throughout the majority of the editing process. But it wasn’t until we laid the final score to picture that we realized the new score took the emotional storytelling to a new place.
Anything new: We learned how to make a short film—from screenwriting in Final Draft to working with a composer to develop the final score. It was fun. We leaned on the help of some very talented professionals, many from the features world. In the end, we were just as thrilled with the process as we are with the result.
Visual influences: E.T. or Stephen Spielberg’s work in general—how his films incorporate fantastic elements but are grounded in real-world problems we all have. It was important for us that the film did not feel like a sci-fi story.