Below find an exclusive scene from Aaron Katz’s third feature, the SXSW hit detective tale “Cold Weather,” along with Katz’s breakdown of the shoot. The film is currently playing in limited release.
“Cold Weather” is a movie about a brother and sister who get involved in solving a mystery. I started writing the script because I thought Cris Lankenau and Trieste Kelly Dunn, the two leads, would make a good brother and sister. They had never met each other so about six months before shooting we all got together at a bar. I don’t know if it was the power of suggestion or what, but they immediately had a relationship that felt like brother and sister. Once we were in production it continued and even after we’d wrapped for the day, at dinner maybe, it felt like their relationship was a lot like their characters.
In the film the main character, Doug, gets a job at an ice factory and becomes friends with his co-worker Carlos. At first Doug just goes about his work and doesn’t try to talk too much with anyone, but in this scene Doug and Carlos start to get to know each other. Doug finds out that Carlos is a DJ and Carlos finds out that Doug is interested in forensic science. They’re both surprised to find out something interesting about the other person because up to this point they assumed they wouldn’t have much to talk about. I think this scene is the turning point, where the second of the two important relationships in the movie falls into place.
Shooting the Scene
There was only one ice factory in Portland and they were not interested in letting us shoot there. We shot in a small ice factory about an hour east of Portland in a town called The Dalles. The space was fairly limited in the room with the ice machine so we spent a while thinking about the best way to watch Doug and Carlos do their work. We wanted them to be on the move and we also wanted the camera to stay relatively close to them. What we arrived at was the idea of using just two shots to cover the scene, one that stayed in front of Doug and moved with him and one that stayed in front of Carlos. This presented a few challenges. One was that we were going to see the entire room which meant that the only place to put lights was on the ceiling. Additionally, because the characters were moving around so much, we needed light that would cover a large area. We ended up putting clamps on wooden beams in the ceiling and attaching Kino Flos, which are a kind of film specific florescent lights designed to give broad soft illumination. Another problem was that no crew members, besides the ones moving with the camera (our director of photography, first assistant camera person, and sound mixer/boom operator), could be in the room. This meant that the rest of the crew and I had to hide in the next room and listen to the scene rather than watching it.
Ultimately this was a challenging scene to shoot, but it’s one of my favorite scenes in the movie.