Director’s Statement

Mike Merell’s Director’s Statement:

I made Desert Vows because I had to. It was a labor of love and I’m very happy and proud of the final cut. If I am lucky enough to make all the films I hope to in the future, Desert Vows may forever remain my personal favorite. The reason being is that it is a pure film. It takes many people and a lot of resources to make a film, especially a feature film. Often a director has to compromise his or her vision due too many factors, more often then not it’s related to money and the expensive nature of making a film. I was fortunate to be able to make this film on my own terms and that is why I call it pure. I had plenty of valuable input, most importantly from my producer, actor, and wife Dunya Djordjevic who believed in my vision and still does. All the input I got, both positive and negative, made Desert Vows the film that it is now.

While the main storyline of Desert Vows, about a woman who starts to question her life path prior to her marriage, appears on the surface to be mainstream, it is anything but that. My intent from the start was to break every rule I could for the sake of a creative synergy with my actors, without compromising the story. It started with the script…which didn’t exist. I had a detailed beat list and rehearsed with the main actors for up to 4 months before the start of shooting. Together we created each actors character. Some scenes were well rehearsed, others were found during shooting. I loved the process and raw quality of the actor’s performances. I allowed my actors to do what they do best and I let them swerve down the road but kept them on course to the ending I wanted. I owe a lot to my talented actors.

Even more experimental and what I’ve found to be polarizing to the audience is how I used the music and visual effects in the film. The protagonist of the film, Hunter, played by Dunya Djordjevic, is an artist at heart. I used the music and visual efx to heighten her state of mind, and for the audience to be inside of her head. I had plans to do this from the start of pre-production, and like the actor’s improv, I found how to weave these moments into the fabric of the story while editing the film.  I experimented with the edit, the efx and music until I felt the subtext showed Hunter’s inner feelings the way I wanted. For me it worked exactly like planned. :)

I hope you enjoy the film and please check out my next ‘transmedia’ film entitled 27 Eds.

Mike Merell


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