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Longer Letter Later

1998, 5min. (B&W/16mm)


Holly Knoll, Zak Gavin, Breanna Iveson, Christina Carrasco, Ariana Weil


Longer Letter Later tells the story of first love in a high school classroom. Stacey (Holly Knoll) and Zak (Zak Gavin) have each had a crush on the other forever, but each is afraid to do anything about it.

One day, during a pop quiz, when Stacey is trying to send a note about Zak to her friend Katie (Breanna Iverson), her note gets crossed with a cheat sheet that Will (Andy Cheatwood) is trying to pass to Zak. Suddenly, Zak is reading Stacey's note about her crush on him!

Stacey is crushed, but even worse, Katie refuses to accept Will's note which is mistakenly being delivered to her. She pitches it across the room where it lands at Stacey's feet. Suddenly Stacey is mistakenly accused of cheating, and she and Zak are sent to the Principal's Office to be disciplined.

Fortunately, this gives Stacey and Zak a chance to talk, now that each knew of the other's secret passion, and the rest is history!

Production Notes

Longer Letter Later was born through its title, which was inspired by an article in "Entertainment Weekly" by Degen Pener ("If Girls Ran Hollywood"). I decided it would be fun to tell a silly, mixed-up story set in a high school classroom as students were passing notes during a quiz. The limitations of the class for which the film was produced stated that no dialogue was allowed, so I decided that a quiz would be a perfect setting - they wouldn't be allowed to talk anyway.

Of course, I completely ignored the hassles associated with a child-heavy production. I had to not only secure a room full of child actors but also provide minor work permits from them and secure permission from the state to skip the expense of the studio teacher, who would normally be required to look out for their welfare. It was hard enough to find the right number of students! Fortunately, Kathleen Hammond at Top Dog Talent Agency was able to provide me with a list of viable names at the last minute or the film might never have been produced.

We worked in a classroom on campus on two consecutive weekends, and it was an excellent collaborative experience for cinematographer Joe Mulder and myself. (Of course longtime assistant Andy Cheatwood was also on board, this time as Assistant Director, and even stepped in to play a role for me.) I knew Joe was a pro behind the camera; I'd seen his earlier work, and he even shot my earlier disaster, At First Sight. The level of trust between Joe and myself grew to a point where I wasn't even looking in the viewfinder for every shot, and this is extremely meaningful to me. I know what a control freak I am and I'm really proud of Joe for delivering such quality that I just quit worrying about his shots.

All of our student actors were really great - and very patient - and I think that we dodged the hurdles and came up with a fun little piece. I think other partnerships in our class ended up with more successful films in terms of achieving the intended style or capturing the attention of the audience, but Joe and I had a really successful collaboration and creative partnership, and I value that more than anything. Of course in Hollywood, it's a different story, but we'll foster that what's-in-it-for-me attitude later when it's more effective.