An Interview with “The Balcony” Filmmakers Jordan Smith and Aubrey Hansen

Holy Worlders Jordan Smith and Aubrey Hansen are working on a new short film called “The Balcony.” They allowed HW to interview them so they could tell us more about the film and why they need our help to get it made.
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Thank you for letting Holy Worlds interview you, Jordan and Aubrey. Tell us about yourselves.

Jordan: Hey there! I’m Jordan! Around Holy Worlds, I have a reputation as the logline guy. But my original passion is filmmaking. I’ve been making films for as long as I can remember. You might be familiar with Month of the Novel, or maybe even iSundae. I live in Georgia with my amazing wife, where I do customer support and video production for a small publisher.

Aubrey: I’m Aubrey Hansen, Jordan’s best logline student! All right, that was a joke–although Jordan does help me with almost every logline I write. I am the writer. Whenever Jordan and I are ganging up on an operation, I’m always the one in charge of the script. I’ve self-published novels and been involved in multiple script projects. I live in south Chicagoland with the adorable husband I recently kidnapped, where I balance my time between serving coffee, formatting book interiors, and forcing my husband to watch all my favorite movies over and over again.

How did you end up working together on “The Balcony”?

Jordan: I’ve worked with Aubrey before on a number of productions, and I’ve gained a very high regard for her story sense and overall writing ability. She and I met when she was looking for a producer for her short screenplay A House for Marge, and then I later pulled her into Month of the Novel to head up the story team and corral a group of writers. So when I was thinking about doing another short film, it was a no-brainer to ask Aubrey if she had anything I could produce. She sent me a number of scripts and I connected with The Balcony.

Aubrey: I was foolish enough to send the finished script to Jordan. I really should know better. Jordan produced my first script, and since then I haven’t been able to get him to shut up. It’s always “Be on my writing team!” or “When are you going to finish that script I like?” with him. When I’m being really stubborn about finishing something, he’ll do something really cheeky and crazy, like pull out an old script I forgot I sent him and decide to produce it. Which is basically what happened here.

What’s “The Balcony” about?

Jordan: I have a logline, of course: A discouraged violinist’s practice time in a theater he thinks is empty gives hope to a girl who plans to jump off the balcony. The story is told almost entirely through the music of a duet—there’s no dialogue.

Aubrey: Since Jordan told you what the script is about, I’ll tell you where the inspiration came from. A few years ago I attended a concert at my brother’s local college. Music is one of the most powerful inspirations there is, and during the concert my mind began to wander… I was contemplating how all the different parts in a concert piece layer together to create one song, and how it might feel to be a supporting musician whose part was boring and repetitious to practice.

Is suicide prevention a deeply personal issue to you?

Jordan: If you mean deeply personal as in I’ve experienced suicide in my own life and relationships, then I’d have to say no. But it is something I think is an important issue, and I’m really excited about The Balcony because of how sensitively the film is able to handle such a delicate topic.

Aubrey: Ironically, it wasn’t an personal issue for me when I wrote the film. Suicide was simply the plot that fit with the emotion and character development I wanted to portray. However, in the year that followed, suicide became an issue very close to my heart, first through my friends and then through my own struggles. In May of 2014 a text message from a friend prevented me from committing suicide on the highway. Since then I’ve found victory, so when Jordan brought this film back to light, I was very excited to rediscover it as a medium for reaching out on the subject of suicide prevention.

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Have you ever worked on a silent film before?

Jordan: I actually haven’t. This is new ground for me, but it’s not new for the director, Kendra Ness. She’s created many silent shorts and has a great feel for telling a story without words.

Aubrey: I love writing silent short films; sometimes it feels like that’s all I write! However, I think this is the first major silent work of mine to be produced. What makes this film different from my other silents is that the music *is* the dialog. Most of my silent films are solid montages with no sound at all and only a detached score. In “The Balcony,” however, the story is told with the music, with the actors themselves producing the music as though they were having a conversation with their instruments.

It sounds like music will be especially important for this film. Have you chosen a composer?

Jordan: Yes, we approached Rick Holets, who is a wonderful composer. Aubrey and I worked with him on our first short together, A House for Marge. He’s done a number of feature films and shorts since then. We really enjoy his music and think he’s a great fit for the project.

Aubrey: Jordan was my first producer and Rick was my first composer, so who would make a better team to produce my newest work? I always knew the music for this film would be tricky, because it requires a custom violin and flute duet to be played by the actors themselves. It thrills me to no end that Rick is willing to take on this challenge.

What led you to choose Kickstarter to help this film get made?

Jordan: Quite honestly, the cost of production. Hiring a composer of Rick’s calibre is not cheap. The quote he gave us for the music is pretty much what we spent making Month of the Novel Season 2 happen. Also, Kendra and I really want to make the visuals of the film fantastic, so we’ll need further funds to rent equipment that will give us the look we’re after. We’re grateful for an opportunity like Kickstarter where we can try to raise funds to do something like The Balcony that would be difficult otherwise.

Aubrey: I personally think Jordan decided to do a Kickstarter solely because he knew that if he went out and actually raised money for this thing, I wouldn’t have any excuse to hide from my writing responsibilities. I’d be morally and financially obligated to write for him again–I mean, people paid good money for this!

Would you like to say anything to those who are considering donating to “The Balcony” on Kickstarter?

Jordan: First of all, thank you! We can’t do this film without your help! Remember that if we don’t meet the goal, we don’t get any of the funds pledged. Even if you can’t afford to back the project, you can share the Kickstarter link with your friends. We appreciate any help you can give us to make The Balcony happen!

Aubrey: Although I knew “The Balcony” had a lot of potential to turn into a very beautiful film, I never dreamed it would come to life so soon, given the difficulties with the music. So to everyone who donates even $1–thank you for making a writer’s dream come true. And to all who support us in any way, even by word of mouth, for the cause of suicide prevention, we who have struggled with this tragedy thank you. And that includes me.

If you’d like to help “The Balcony” get made, please visit the film’s Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jordansmith/the-balcony-short-film


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