Reflections on filming ‘Red Blooded’
I don’t recall a more moving experience directing a film than “Red Blooded.”
It’s a feeling that built while we were in production for seven days between Aug. 2 and 9 in locations from Kensington to San Marcos. The process brought a series of emotions during those days. The one word that describes it best — altered.
“Red Blooded” Director Roman S. Koenig checks out a special-effects light before filming a scene on Saturday, Aug. 6. (Photo by Jennie Olson Six)
Up until this project, the bulk of my filmmaking experience was in the form of screenwriting and several entries into the 48 Hour and Four Points competitions as team leader, writer and director. It’s a part of my journey that I had been hesitant to share in the run-up to “Red Blooded” because of the length of time it had been since my last production of its level. How could I build support for a film that wasn’t a six-minute contest entry? It wasn’t the films themselves, it was my concern that they were all I had become known for.
Having successfully completed production of “Red Blooded” — with the contributions of an amazing cast, staff and producers — I feel more comfortable sharing that it’s the first such film I have made in close to 20 years. Sidelined by work and other diversions, as so often happens, I didn’t have the opportunity to build a film in the way I felt I was truly capable of. From 2009 to 2017, the 48 Hour Film Project and its related contest helped keep me grounded. In the meantime, I also self-published a novel — “Black Market News” — based on a couple of scripts I wrote several years ago.
I chose to write and make “Red Blooded” because I felt compelled to comment on the state of our current societal climate. In doing so, it became an opportunity to challenge myself as a filmmaker and storyteller in ways I hadn’t before.
The most emotionally intense days of filming were Friday, Aug. 5, and Saturday, Aug 6. During those two days, we dealt with sensitive and challenging subject matter. Bullying. Nationalism. Racism. Being outed. Domestic violence. The weight of that experience was on the actors, and they handled it beautifully. But it was through their expression of the material I had written, working with them as a director, that moved me so deeply. It’s one thing to write sensitive material. It’s another level to see the emotions and actions of those words come to fictional life. Co-Producer Jennie Olson Six, who helped coach that process alongside me with the actors, was instrumental in working to create the safe space for the magic to happen.
After each of those days in particular, I felt transported to another place. I didn’t quite feel right in my surroundings. The whole week’s worth of filming did that on some level. It’s taken about two weeks for a reset.
As “Red Blooded” enters post-production, its influence on me personally and in my storytelling is profound.