To Emmy

A recent college graduate discovers a letter she wrote herself as an incoming freshman.

The film can be viewed here: Official Vimeo

Director: Tayo Amos


Tayo Amos is an independent film director who approached me to shoot your short film To Emmy. The film is about Emmy, a recent Stanford grad, finding a letter her freshman self wrote for her to read upon graduation.

The story deals a lot with the realities of post grad life, how much can happen within four years, and the reluctance of adulthood.

Tayo and I agreed that the two timelines needed their own color pallette to help distinguish them from each other, but to more importantly establish the mise en scene, the current emotional state of mind for each timeline. We chose warmer colors for the past Emmy and colder colors for the present Emmy.

This short leads into a feature film Tayo is currently developing, so we ended the film with a shot to purposefully confuse the audience. We end with warm colors on present Emmy while she stares into the mirror looking at her dress for a graduation party. She smiles happy of her acheivement, but that smile quickly leaves. By color pallette definition we chose earlier, this scene should actually be cold (like the other present day Emmy scenes), but we chose warmer colors to confuse the audience and hint at what is to come in the feature.

Why did we want to confuse the audience, though? Because life immediately after college is confusing. The structure Emmy was used to is now gone, her life forever changed by higher education and the realization of adulthood. She's beyond confused about what to do and we wanted the audience to feel the same way at the end.

The dark skin tones of our lead actors became a particular challenge with shooting on a micro budget. To further the challenge, I also wanted milky shadows as part of the worn out and faded look for the past.

I tried to keep our characters in soft light as much as possible to even out the exposure across the face and bring out whatever details we could.

Additionally, I shot the "past" scenes wide open and a stop under exposed. The wide open lens allowed for enough image degredation to feel old and long ago. Under exposing a stop saved more highlight detail and, in post, allowed me to push the image back up a stop and get the milky shadows Tayo and I wanted.

I shot this film on my Canon 5DII with Nikon Cinevised primes in Cinestyle.