Appreciating the art of everything

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Addison Parker
Addison Parker adjusts the camera for her director of photography Hannah Gross as they work together on a past set. They are also working on the upcoming short film, “SNAP.”

The bright lights and busy environment of a movie set are beckoning Addison Parker.

With family roots still planted firmly in Canal Winchester, Parker—a 2020 Canal Winchester High School graduate and senior at the University of Alabama—is pursuing a career in filmmaking and recently served as an assistant director for the university’s first student feature film.

“My role was the point of communication for cast and crew when it came to scheduling and on-set production,” said Parker. “In essence, my job required me to take the 100 plus page script, break it up into filmable chunks (typically based on the location needs), and then to schedule the days and times we would actually be able to film those things. While the job is never easy, since this was a student film, I had the added challenge of scheduling the entire production around the class schedule of the crew and cast members as well. I began work on this project in early December and as of now, we have officially wrapped production.”

The movie is a coming of age story involving a 19-year-old girl named Evelyn who, in order to come to terms with her present life, must face her past and reunite with her mom who left her 10 years ago.

Parker is in the process of directing two short films, all in her final semester of college. She graduates in May with a degree in creative media and became involved in directing after taking a course in scriptwriting.

“The two films I’m getting ready to direct are scripts I have workshopped for about a year now,” said Parker. “One of them in particular started out as a small, two-scene sample I wrote in a screenwriting class a year and a half ago. It was for a horror/suspense writing assignment and I had chosen to write in the style of a psychological thriller because my mom and I were obsessed with thrillers and would watch them together.”

The second short film Parker is directing is a more traditional narrative following a woman who is unhappy with her life and decides that a life-changing hike is the answer to all of her problems.

When writing, Parker said she has a strong, clear vision for the story she is telling and is able to visually describe what the final edit should look like simply from words on a page.

“That’s when I signed up for my first directing class and made ‘The Understudies’ (2023),” said Parker. “It was a script I had first written in screenwriting, and with my connection to the theatre department at UA, I knew I was able to get resources I would need to tell this comedic story about the dramatic environment of high school theatre. Once I stepped onto the set of ‘The Understudies,’ I knew. One of my professors at the time had been there observing and she pulled me aside very quickly and said, ‘This is what you need to be doing. Do this as much as you can.’”

In switching from feature length to the short film format, one of the biggest differences Parker’s discovered is with short films, directors often choose to take on the duties of an assistant director.

“Since you have less to film, typically the director has more space to handle the communications and scheduling,” Parker said. “With a feature film, the director is usually so concerned with continuity, getting the correct emotional performance out of their actors, and overseeing the producer’s work that having an assistant director is no longer an added bonus, but a necessity. It’s much easier to complete a short film in a small window of time with a smaller crew, but a feature film would be impossible without the active assistance of an involved team.”

Parker thinks people might be surprised at the amount of behind-the-scenes work it takes to create a short film. She said viewers typically don’t think about the months of preparation, including script rewrites, location booking, production scheduling, the best order shooting scenes based on the sun’s position in relation to location, set dressing, costumes and more.

“People even forget that, as a director, you have to provide full meals on set to all of your cast and crew members any time you have them working longer than five hours,” said Parker. “Working on my own films has absolutely changed the way in which I consume cinema. I’m much more impressed with large Hollywood films and appreciate the effort that goes into creating a beautiful and realistic set, but I’m also much more aware of continuity errors in films.”

With the keen eye of a director, Parker said she can always spot when a character’s drink magically changes, how much it is filled from one shot to another, or when the plot has unexplained holes in it. She also notices when shots are slightly out of focus.

“In some ways, it can drive you crazy to analyze films in this way, but it also amplifies the appreciation I have for a beautifully lit scene or the way in which the editor chose to splice together an interaction,” said Parker. “In films, most of the time the goal is for lighting and editing to be so seamless, the audience doesn’t pay any attention to it, but as a filmmaker, we learn to analyze and appreciate the art of everything.”

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