The hard thing about wearing so many hats on an independent production is there’s always something else that has to be done.
I had no idea how to find locations but having worked some micro productions this summer, I realized first — you have to know what you want.
Second Heart isn’t about death, it’s about finding your life after grief. A distinction which became the compass for many decisions. The first of which was to start the script with what had been the third scene. A small scene, but emotional and beautiful. It was all I needed.
This change removed unnecessary extras, locations, and props which was great for the production side but it also strengthened Sam’s story. The rarest kind of creative decision is one that can do both — which is what makes it the best.
This change helped me imagine the opening in a way I hadn’t before. I pictured the scene in a cemetery that was airy, but still in the city, under a tree on a hill where Sam would walk away from the camera, getting smaller and smaller.
Did that place exist? I had no idea.
I mapped out some locations to visit, grabbed my point-and-shoot camera, got in the car with a friend and went. I know most people don’t spend a Saturday taking photos of a cemetery to judge its cinematic qualities, but honestly — it felt great.
It was inspiring to do something to give the film flesh, to imagine the scenes I wrote happening in a real space. Even when I looked in the camera and knew it wasn’t the right location I didn’t feel defeated. It solidified the feeling I wanted for the opening scene. Bright, and beautiful, and sad.
The last location that day was perfect. I don’t know if it was the cool air or the amazing golden sunset but I knew it was the right place to start the film. Not only did it read really well even in my dinky little camera but it had everything. Light, city, openness, and a tree on a hill.
In every stage of filmmaking it’s hard to know if you should hold onto your ideas or, if by letting them go, you’ll be free to make better choices.
But you have to start somewhere. Do some research, get out there, and get it in camera.