The Value of Passion Projects: Joe Simon on LOW TIDE

Taking the time to fall back in love with filmmaking. 

As a creative, it can be hard to step back from the daily hustle and take the time to create something purely because you want to. 

After collaborating with The Delivery Men on their recent passion project, LOW TIDE, we were excited to learn more about what inspired the team to break away from their day-to-day commercial production work and instead focus on creating this captivating short film, from concept through post-production. We jumped on the phone with our friend and filmmaker, Joe Simon, to talk about why it was so important for him and his team to create this film, and what it was like working with a turnaround time of only a few weeks. Enjoy. 

Tell us a little bit more about the background story of LOW TIDE. How did this film develop from ideation to creation? What inspired it? 

Joe Simon: Hussain Pirani, Gina Gatto and myself work for a commercial production company, The Delivery Men. Although our main focus is client work, we've been wanting to do a personal project for a while now. But it has been more of a, "How do we give the creative side of us a break from the anxiety that comes with client work?" We kept putting it off, time and time again, until one day -- right after SXSW -- my wife suggested that we travel up to her parents beach house in Seaside, Oregon, put together a story, and shoot it. And that's what we did. 

So would you say that the film's storyline built around the location?

JS: Yes, early on, we decided that the best approach would be to build the story around the location instead of creating an elaborate story and then thinking, "Where could we even shoot this?" Once we arrived in Seaside, we used the location as inspiration for the story, each day going out and scouting the people, houses and landmarks for a few hours, and then heading back to house to brainstorm ideas and storylines. After doing this for a few days, everything started piecing together and we had the storyline completed before we left Seaside to head back to Austin, Texas. 

Since the film was location-based, do you feel the film continued to evolve throughout production process? 

JS: After our first trip to Seaside, we basically had the entire story put together and conceptualized scene by scene. Once we were back in Austin, my colleague, Hussain Pirani, wrote the script and locked in the story. With only two days scheduled to film on our second trip to Seaside, there wasn't much room to change the storyline. 

LOW TIDE uses a lot of natural sound. Why did you choose to go this route rather than scoring music throughout? And how do feel this decision enhanced the overall mood of the film? 

JS: Every film is different. We could have put music throughout the entire edit, or not used any music at all. The question becomes, "Is the scene being enhanced or distracted by adding music?" In post-production, we are looking at the film on a scene-by-scene and evaluating how we can enhance it. With this film, we were constantly looking at what would allow us to hit the right emotional notes, and then how we could push the emotional impact even higher. Generally, we are really big on sound design and making the viewer feel immersed in the film -- almost as if they're in a 3D environment. 

With all your client work, what made you want to spend additional time and resources on a film like LOW TIDE

JS: This is a personal project. As a filmmaker, you have to give yourself a creative hiatus from your day job to avoid getting burnt out. Make the time to enjoy what you do to the fullest, invigorate your creativity, and fall back in love with filmmaking. It's just one of those things you have to do to allow yourself to continue to enjoy your job to the fullest. 

Watch the final product of this passion project below. 

Posted on July 8, 2016 and filed under Field Notes, Filmmaking.