19 Lug An interview with Noah Kinsey, director of “Lullaby”
Writer/director/producer Noah Kinsey has worked with various production companies on projects for major media entities such as Disney, Discovery, and Twitch.
A published writer since the age of 21, Noah has worked as a co-showrunner, producer, director, production manager, staff writer, script doctor, and screenwriter.
I wouldn’t say there was one specific event. To your point, the position we find the characters in at the start of the film has become way too common. Thankfully, we as a society have moved on from the misconception of “staying together for the kids” being what’s best and we are now embracing the much healthier practice of co-parenting. Which is a beautiful thing. But unfortunately co-parenting also has its share of problems because it still involves two adults who might not be emotionally healthy or mature when it comes to dealing with each other.
Just like a lot of people, I’ve seen many incidents of children being used as pawns to hurt the other parent. And I’ve seen authorities and the system become desensitized to these domestic disputes for one reason or another that they basically don’t do anything about it, leaving kids to be the ones who suffer the most.
Short films often rely more on visuals and images to convey emotions and themes. Can you talk about the visual style and cues in the film that foreshadow the dark twist or create a sense of tension and mystery?
This film would not have the emotional impact without being purposeful in foreshadowing. Without giving away too much, when I wrote Lullaby I made sure there were plenty of Easter eggs so that if you re-watched the film you would realize we were giving you clues the entire time. B
efore shooting, our amazing DP Jay (Ruggieri) and I plotted out the best ways to shoot those moments where they would be present but subtle. Also, there were some nuances a few of the actors needed to add to their performances. And finally, our great editor Gary (Allen) and I made sure those cues were timed properly to be present but understated in the final edit.
The acting of the cast, especially the young protagonist Chloe Elise Ellis, is an important test on which a difficult story stands. What challenges did you face in making such an intense and emotionally demanding short film? Were there any inspiring moments you recall during production?
Wasn’t Chloe amazing? All my actors really gave their all and are rightfully getting the acclaim they deserve from the festivals we’ve been featured in so far.
Before we went into production, I had discussions with each of the adult actors and discussed the history and psychology of their character and what their character wants going into the events of the film. For Chloe, we just had a short talk her first day on set and she nailed the role of Amber. In fact, I think I got a little spoiled because my actors really got their characters and crushed it.
Probably the biggest challenges were logistical. Our first day of shooting was the daytime scene with the two police officers speaking to Janelle (the mom) in front of her house. We had to pause for sound so many times because we were in a neighborhood being occasionally interrupted by cars, dogs barking, and about a million planes flying overhead. While it was stressful for my DP and I due to not wanting to lose our natural light, it was probably worse for Cherish Michael who played Janelle. Her emotions had to be set at a certain level for the performance to work. She does the heavy lifting at the start of this film, so to have to start and stop so many times had to be incredibly exhausting.
The most inspiring moment for me was one that on paper wasn’t supposed to be much of anything. There’s a very brief shot of Daddy and Amber sitting on a park bench just existing together. It’s so simple. There’s not even any dialogue. But man, at one point I had to look away from their performances because I was about to cry. Chloe is looking up at Daddy – who is played by Gabriel Ellis and is her real-life father – with so much love, warmth, and admiration. At the same time, Gabriel is doing a masterclass of showing his unconditional love for his daughter while also secretly carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. The juxtaposition was overwhelming in the best and most tragic ways, but it also informed me that this shot was more important than I had realized. Which is funny because I wrote the damn thing! If anybody should know what matters and what’s just a throwaway shot it should be me, right? But that’s the beauty of filmmaking. I write this little scene and these two powerhouse performers prove that moment is way bigger than I thought.
My producing partner Spencer Rich (who played the lead cop in Lullaby) and I are setting up meetings in the fall for our slate of projects. We are also in the early stages of pre-production for a semi-autobiographical comedy pilot, and once we secure the financing for our low-budget horror movie, we’ll jump into pre-production for that as well. While it’s a very different story than Lullaby, our film has the same tone and suspense elements.
Ideally, we’ll be filming both the pilot and film this year but there are external factors that may impact that.
Either way, we’re really enjoying the festival circuit for Lullaby. We have been selected for festivals all the way through next summer, and the response from audiences, organizers, and judges has been wonderful. You pour your heart and soul into a film but you never really know how people are going to respond, so it’s truly gratifying that it’s been received the way it has. I’m thankful for that, and I’m thankful for you wanting to speak with me about it.