Aspen, Colorado, as well as nearby towns and the surrounding wilderness, provided more than just magnificent visual backdrops for Chapman. The film was conceived, scripted, directed and photographed with the intention of using the Rocky Mountain pallet as a leading character in our story, a tale of lost youth and innocence with glimmers of redemption, reconciliation and hope.
Opting for a minimalist approach to dialogue and action, writer/director, Justin Owensby, sought to rely on extraordinary scenery, natural lighting and organic sound cues to forge an emotional bond between his characters and the audience. While the majority of the dialogue was scripted, the actors were given great freedom and encouragement to improvise during rehearsal, allowing for a process of discovery that enhanced the sense of realism that characterizes the film.
With a small cast and crew (usually totaling 17 or less), we were able to travel light and fast but often found ourselves far from base camp with no cell or internet service available. The Chapman crew, like our actors, soon found that the ability to improvise was a necessity. All the members of “team Chapman” rose to the occasion and their dedication to each other as well as to their work is evident in the final product – a motion picture with a “million dollar look” that was accomplished for a fraction of that amount.
Sadly, since completing principal photography in the summer of 2011, we lost two members of our Chapman family in separate tragic accidents. Malachi Bilson, Chapman’s Assistant Designer, was a talented photographer and aspiring filmmaker. He had a great smile and an irrepressible sense of humor that kept us all laughing even on the tough days. Doug Scheffer was a world-class helicopter pilot and a world-class human being who flew hundreds of search and rescue missions for various western responding agencies and was responsible for all of Chapman’s beautiful aerial photography. We will forever remember both of these men with love and gratitude.