Influences:  Or How We Convinced Ourselves We Weren’t Crazy

An obsession with Orson Welles’ War Of The Worlds, John Cassavettes films, Mike Leigh and teenage memories of The Blair Witch Project surrounded our approach.  After watching the extras on the DVD for 2008 Palm D’Or winner The Class in which they document the approach of director Laurent Cantet who worked scenes with actors in classrooms for months until the scenes became natural, it all became clear.  We wanted to take that idea to the next place.  We applied that idea to our people.  They would play heightened versions of themselves and build the camp, the sandbox, for us to come play in.  And once there, we would let our imaginations go, then reel it all back in and charge toward the finish line, together.

The Editing Process:  Or How We Almost Went Crazy

Shot on two Canon 5D Mark III’s and one 7D we dumped over 200 hours of footage into the (at the time) brand new Final Cut X and began tagging clips.  I’d been driving the narrative and keeping a living outline throughout production, so I typed out what I believed to be “the story”, essentially “the hour and a half film” and pinned it to the wall above the editing bay.

Two years later, after traveling back and forth from Montana to LA and editing scene after beautiful scene in between our day jobs, we sat at a bloated 3 hour cut of the film.  One hot July day, I laid down on the couch outside the editing room…which was my bedroom.  I walked my mind through what I thought the movie was, from the moment I received the postcard, to those final shocking scenes.  I saw it all.  Convinced that I’d seen the light, I walked into my room where Pitman was editing and said, “Are you ready to cut the fuck out of this thing?”

That day we chopped an hour off of the film.  As much as it hurt, it was freeing.  Beautiful scenes were falling to the floor, one by one in a bloody frenzy.  “Kill your darlings”?  This was a slaughter.

But that night, after Pitman went home, I watched it.  Then, I watched it again.  Then, Nathaniel Peterson got home from work and we watched it.  Then, we watched it again.  It was exactly what we had wanted to make and seeing it was the thrill of my life.  I cried.

Months later, when cleaning out from behind our editing computer in my room, I’d find the original outline that I typed and posted on the wall the day we got back from production, and I’ll be damned if that outline wasn’t almost exactly what the movie turned out to be.

The Product:  The Payoff

Seeing the honesty and truth that we were all able to capture out there on the plains of Montana has forever affected my approach to filmmaking.  While I may never duplicate the experience or the process that we pulled off that summer, I will continue to reference it with every film I make from here on out.  Most films work backwards in order to create a real look and feel, based around a story.  What we learned is that if you put in the work beforehand and build a reality, live inside of it and really trust it, a story can find you.

The Triangle is currently available on digital platforms. A DVD release with even more behind-the-scenes info is set to release on October 27th with an iTunes Extras release scheduled for November 27th.