A Portrait Of Wild
by Faruq Oyekan
A Portrait of Wild is a visually stunning short film by director Kevin Clark.
What is important to recognize about this film is that its greatness comes from its cinematography. What is seen, not what is heard stands out as the crowning achievement of Kevin Clark’s short. The short in whole is very minimalistic, but not in terms concerning the camera shots. The minimalism shines in the way the short’s narrative is progressed.
The short tells the story of two teenage companions who are in the middle of a camping trip out in the middle of nowhere and in the center of what can only be called “The Wild”. The two teens engage in various exploits in the wild, which Kevin Clark’s production team showcases with beautiful uses of color and light.
The minimalism in the story showcases itself in the short’s little use of dialogue. For the majority of the short the only accompanying sound is a voice over by the male lead and a very fitting musical score by Roah Summit. As this story progresses, the voice over reveals the short to be about a growing romance, and this is where the minimalistic visual approach truly feels perfect for this short.
The growing romantic relationship between two lead characters is visually presented. The facial expressions of the actors, Dan Lesser and Kate Rodebaugh, amazingly translate the feelings presented through the voice over. By the end of the short, the conclusion that arises feels organic and fitting to what has happened.
Usually when reviewing shorts I try my best not to spoil the ending or reveal major plot twists in its narrative, however A Portrait of Wild is not a short where knowing its undeniable conclusion ruins its payoff. The journey to the ending is where this short is at its strongest.
A Portrait of Wild, never has a title been more accurate to describe the strengths of a short. In its six minute running time, Kevin Clark and his production team have demonstrated that visuals are not simply spectacle when it comes to film. They can be just as important or sometimes more important than other elements.
INTERVIEW with Kevin Clark (Director)
First, who is Kevin Clark? How did you get started film-making?
Well my name is Kevin. I live in Costa Mesa, CA. And I'm 21 years old. I grew up watching movies. One of the earliest memories I have was watching Star Wars with my dad when I was a kid. But I actually began making movies with my friends when we were in elementary school. And coincidentally enough we are still working together all the time on films. The same friends I started with helped on A Portrait of Wild.
Where did the idea for this short sprout from?
The idea was based on these feelings that I was having about my youth and just sort of looking back into my childhood and trying to find answers to questions in my life that I was feeling I didn't have answers too. So the film was a means of discovering some things about myself.
Was it inspired any real youth romance?
Ha-ha yes and no. I wasn’t writing from a specific single experience. But all of my writing is me. I always am pulling from personal stories and memories. So my past relationships are definitely in there in places.
Any interesting behind the scenes stories?
Oh yeah all kinds of stories! We spent 4 days in Mammoth Lakes shooting the film. But one great story I can share was when we went out to location scout for the film. We had found this beautiful frozen lake and wanted to do a scene where the kids walked out onto the frozen ice. Turned out within 3 weeks after we left the ice had melted. And we showed up to shoot and the frozen lake was gone. So the scene on the rope swing in the film is our fix for that. That lake was different than the one we had scouted but I knew it had that rope swing because I grew up going to mammoth and knew the spot. So we went to go check it out that morning and it was frozen just on the surface and then by noon the ice melted. Which gives you an idea of how insanely cold that water was. And both Dan and Kate, the actors, still jumped. They were so great! I gave Dan a line I wanted him to say when he was in the water where he would invite Kate to jump in next. And when he let go of the rope and jumped in he went down into the water and then instantly shot back up and screamed, "MOTHER OF GOD!!!" They were such troopers through the whole shoot. The fact that they were both so invested in the project made working with then such a joy.