Responses by Chris Ryan, principal; producer/director, Once Films
Background: Part of The Spotlight Series, our short film for Barrel Beard & Tattoo was intended to show some heart and soul behind these barrel aged oils meant to treat the hair and skin. Our subject, and the company’s founder, Jeremy Allen Stanton, is a guy that cherishes the support he’s had from everyone that’s helped him launch this line. Marketed for guys and old-school barbershops, we needed to go beyond and show Barrel as the premium product it is.
Reasoning: We often think of at least two narrative tracks: the one you see and the one you hear. Both of those tracks flow on together, but rarely touch. Jeremy almost never talks about the product. It’s more about his attention to detail, his trials and his gratitude to do something that makes other people happy.
Challenges: The entirety of this four minute, 35 second film was all shot within six square feet of space. Since we minimized the amount of “set dressing,” we had to make sure everything in frame had a purpose. With the amazing smells of ingredients, a few bottles of open bourbon and rich side conversations, the most challenging aspect of the project was staying focused on the work at hand.
Favorite details: The craft that can be seen in the little things. In this project, we were combining the interesting details of the product creation and infusing it with our own. It can be seen in the reflection of Jeremy’s face in a decanter of oil, the layering of objects in a frame, the abstract shots and the multi-angle perspectives we create.
Visual influences: With Barrel and our other projects, it starts with a conversation with the expert. They’ll tell you all of the little things that often go unnoticed by the untrained eye. Then, we spend time making those details obvious to the audience. That’s something appealing about our work; the audience is fully immersed.
Time constraints: After pre-production, we had two weeks to shoot and edit the final film. Time constraints help us because you’re forced to make quick decisions, trust your gut as a director, and move on to the next challenge. Had we not had a deadline, we could have made adjustments until the end of time.