Orlando Live interview with writer/director Andrew Kenneth Gay and producer/co-star John William Wright:
Izonorlando interview with writer/director Andrew Kenneth Gay and producer/co-star John William Wright:
Andrew Kenneth Gay interview
- The Daily City Movie Review
- Cinema365 Movie Review
- Orlando Sentinel Movie Review
- Film Dropps: On The Record.
- The Oracle (University of South Florida)
- Winter Park/Maitland Observer
- Florida Independent Alligator (University of Florida)
- UCF Today (University of Central Florida)
- Art Remote
- Orlando Home & Leisure Magazine
Questions & Answers with Andrew Kenneth Gay
A Beautiful Belly was shot in Orlando, FL, on the Canon EOS-5D Mark II with Nikon Lenses. Cinematographer Marco Cordero is one of the first to use a DSLR to shoot feature length motion pictures, making A Beautiful Belly a huge technological achievement. With this groundbreaking gear and a lighting package consisting mostly of Chinese paper lanterns, the production team behind A Beautiful Belly successfully rendered million dollar images from a budget of less than $50,000, and the results speak for themselves.
The principal photography of A Beautiful Belly posed other interesting challenges, such as working with pregnant models and trained dolphins, and in the following Q & A, writer/director/producer Andrew Kenneth Gay shares some of the behind the scenes secrets of this unique film.
Q: Beginning at the beginning, where did the idea for this story come from?
A: To be honest, it was a pregnancy scare we went through several years ago. Well, it wasn’t a pregnancy scare in the traditional sense. My wife Angelyn had a stomach bug and joked that maybe she was pregnant, and even the suggestion scared the beegeesus out of me. At the time I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted children, but really it wasn’t so much the idea of the responsibility that scared me as this question of, what would my kid think of me? I’m this very goal oriented person, and I hadn’t accomplished many of my goals yet. There was this very real sense for me of a fear that my child would think me a failure. Of course, I couldn’t sleep for days until Angelyn finally caved and took a pregnancy test. When it was negative, I was actually disappointed, and that’s when I knew for the first time that I wanted children.
Q: In a case of life imitating art, you’ve become a father. How personal is this movie for you, and how has fatherhood changed your perspective toward what you wrote and directed?
A: It’s funny because there’s a lot in this movie that is me. Not so much me today as some past version of me I’ve grown through, but it’s of course still very familiar. On the other hand, Angelyn and I have been married eight years now, so we were just really ready to start a family. That’s a very different thing from Jason and Danny’s relationship in the movie. I don’t know that being a father has changed my views much from where they were when I wrote the script, but I’m interested in different things. A Beautiful Belly is really about the things that go wrong in a marriage, and Jason’s fear of fatherhood is really sort of a device to set that off. If I were writing the script today, it’d probably be all about Jason’s relationship with his child, because my own mind is always on my daughter. Of course I still think the movie we’ve made will be very relevant for many young couples, be they parents or not.
Q: Let’s talk about technical details. Why shoot a feature film on a DSLR?
A: I won’t take credit for having that brilliant idea. Marco wanted to do it, and he had to bring me to the table. He made a strong case for shooting on the 5D. For both of us it was about the intimacy it afforded us. I think the difference between creating other forms of art — writing a novel, painting on a canvas, what have you — and directing a motion picture is that directing a motion picture is seldom an intimate experience, but when you’re working with this little camera, things just feel different. It imposes this new kind of rhythm, an attitude really, that I think spreads throughout the entire cast and crew. Marco will give you all these technical and aesthetic reasons why shooting this way is far better than shooting with some big setup like the RED — and I don’t want to undersell those attributes either. The movie LOOKS amazing. But for me it really came down to process.
It’s funny because I think some of the actors were actually a bit nervous at first when they saw us working with this tiny little piece of equipment, but once they saw the footage, they got what we were doing.
Q: There are three Bible study scenes in the film. Does the film have an explicit religious message, or what were you trying to accomplish with the treatment of faith in the script?
A: There’s no explicit religious message, no, and in fact, that was something that really divided readers during the development phase, long before we went into production. Some people loved the approach I took to religion in the script — people on either end of the spectrum, Bible-thumpers and atheists alike, both loving this unique take. Others were bothered by it. They wanted a statement, some final judgment on whether the film was meant to be pro- or anti-religious. For me, this is just part of who these people are as characters. They go to Bible study. You don’t have to go to Bible study if you don’t want to, but these people do.
And you don’t need to go to Bible study to understand them either. One of the things I did was have these characters drinking at Bible study. They have their Bibles in one hand, but they also have a bottle of beer or a glass of wine in the other. Now, that might offend people, which I think is ridiculous. They’re not getting plastered or anything. But most Christians drink socially, and a Bible study is a social gathering. I see no reason why the two can’t go together.
This isn’t a “Christian” film, it’s a film in which many characters happen to be Christians. One of the marks of the Christian genre — a mark that turns-off a lot of savvy movie-loving Christians, I might add — is this third act epiphany in which Jesus or some surrogate Jesus enters and fixes everyone’s problems. Life just isn’t like that, at least not for me, and I don’t think it rings true for most Christians or really people of any faith. Make no mistake, this is a mainstream film for a mainstream audience, in which characters have to learn their own lessons the hard way without some supernatural intervention. That having been said, I do think there’s a large segment of the Christian audience — particularly young, progressive Christian couples — who will find that this film rings very true with their own lives. I think that’s definitely a market to be tapped.
Q: Finally, dolphins: how did you pull off featuring dolphins in your movie, and what’s their significance?
A: Well, I don’t want to give too much away. I’ve blogged about the dolphins once before on this site. You can check it out here. What I’ll add is that the dolphin footage we shot was more beautiful than I ever could have imagined, and it adds like a million bucks of production value to our movie and cost us basically nothing. The folks at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium were amazing to us, and the dolphins were born for the camera. What you’ll see in the movie is mostly natural interaction between the dolphins and actress Lauren Brown. A trainer was present, but they had to intervene very little to keep the dolphins on script. That’s just a very genuine moment between Lauren and these magnificent animals, and I couldn’t have asked for it to turn out better than it did.