“All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman, and a pretty girl.”-Charlie Chaplin
The Auteur was inspired by a story I heard about Charlie Chaplin’s film City Lights. Reportedly, Chaplin went weeks over schedule while shooting the scene where the girl presents a flower to the Tramp. When asked why he went over schedule, Chaplin said the actress, Virginia Cherrill, didn’t know how to hold a flower. I thought it might be fun to dramatize that. In order to make a film about something that happened to Chaplin, I wanted to make it in the style of Chaplin. I decided it would be a silent film in black and white with title cards.
The movie came about very quickly. I wrote the script very fast, and we shot it in one day. The budget was non-existent. I spent $9 on the bouquet of flowers and a little bit on lunch, and that was it.
My friend Daniel Lugo, who I met during the making of my very first film, was the cameraman and he shot on a borrowed Canon XL1.
I knew I needed an actress who would be able to understand the material and be able to get the silent film acting style right away. My friend Brianna Hansen was the only choice. Having acted with her in theatre, I knew we had chemistry, so I cast myself in the Director role.
I knew Tony Soll from theatre and music projects we had done tougher, and before we started shooting, he played me a guitar piece he’d written. As soon as I heard it, I knew it was perfect. He agreed to record it for us, and a month later we had a complete movie.
To this day, I still get compliments on The Auteur. It’s a tribute to Chaplin that I’ll always cherish. It’s a great reminder to me of what you can do with just a park, a great actress, a camera, and some very skilled friends.