STUDENT FILMMAKER Adem Weldon’s seven-and-a-half minute short Some Apologies delves into the dynamic between two brothers. Though shown onscreen as children, the film is a Rashomon-style series of flashbacks trying to get to the bottom of what really happened long ago.
We spoke to Weldon last week.
You go to the University of North Carolina in Greensboro.
Adem Weldon: Yes, and uniquely, it’s the only film school in North Carolina that has a suitable grad program and also the only one where you own the films. So it’s not a situation where the films are paid for by the school and therefore owned by the school afterward. You fork out for them, but you own them. That can make it rough sometimes, especially for development work.
What’s Some Apologies about?
Adem Weldon: It’s about an older brother recounting some personal memories of his younger brother. He’s uncovering some of the mysteries and doubt and sort of poignant truths that only come later in life. He’s coming to terms specifically with one event where he hit his brother in the face.
It’s all in voiceover. It’s shot with two children a year and a half apart in age, about five and seven years old. We see the reflections of memories. Some of what is said is true, but sometimes the narrator maybe deviates from what we’re seeing onscreen to suggest that truths have different foundations.
Was it more difficult to tell the story in such a short time, under ten minutes?
Adem Weldon: I’m in my second year of film school at the grad level here. So there were a lot of reasons why I chose to do a short, and one of them was that I felt that I wasn’t sharp enough with the fundamental concepts of telling a story to do something longer. I decided not to try and tell something in 20 minutes when it’s hard enough to do in five. In shorting and stripping a story down to bare basics you can create a whole lot of liberties in other places, especially if you’re working with kids. Those liberties come when don’t have a million-dollar budget. When you work on a smaller scale you’re surprised more often than not. It’s about getting back to art, isn’t it?
So many filmmakers talk about the “happy accidents” that occur along the way.
Adem Weldon: Yeah, you usually find those fresh, unexpected surprises in the timeline when you’re editing. They’re happy accidents. A lot of moment in film are accidents because they’re the most real. And you’re not worried about it, you’re taking it for what it is.
In this project could afford to swing conventions a little bit. For example, I did it on 8 mm, which is not a standard format these days. It’s been used for a flashback effect at times, and there’s definitely a nostalgic quality to this film.
So the retro format suited the film.
Adem Weldon: It wasn’t so much a matter of quality as having the ease and the guerrilla-like freedom you have with a smaller camera. Also, because everything is automated you don’t need as much light. You don’t need to bring in as much equipment.
The film relies on a voiceover.
Adem Weldon: I went to the voiceover format because I didn’t think I was ready yet to handle dialogue. I thought to tell it this way would be a little simpler. I wanted to really use the energy from the children. I didn’t want to have to rely on their performance to convey ideas.
How did you cast the children?
Adem Weldon: It’s weird to audition at this level. That sort of puts you in a professional format, but the truth is you’re not there yet. So I thought, let met get people I know.
So a coworker of mine I’m good friends with has two wonderful kids. And I thought, “I don’t want to do auditions, let me just put this out to her,” and she was totally behind it 100 percent.
To maintain order, I shot the whole thing in three days. I wanted to capture a real ebb and flow, especially with the shorter attention span of the kids.
Some Apologies screens at 9:30 a.m. Fri. Nov. 2 at the Trustees Theatre.