Local filmmakers make a timely movie about isolation

The film crew, from left: Henry Boekhoff, Sully Hart, Brandon Tiehen, Jaida Votolato, Neo King and Kathy Hernandez. Not visible, behind King, is Josh Brown. (Photo by Jessica Fagan)

Growing up in Edmonds, Brandon “Banjo” Tiehen and his childhood friend Neo King began their movie careers at 12, using a family camcorder. Now, joined by a cohort of former high school friends, they’ve produced a short film. Called Shaded, the movie was shot locally, primarily at Lynnwood’s Wilcox Park and Edmonds Community College.

“It’s a short drama that visually depicts the downfalls that come with loneliness and depression, showing how our perspective can shade our reality,” said Tiehen, 20, who worked as cinematographer on the film as well as created and performed the film’s haunting musical score.

The idea for the film came about when his friend Neo went off to college. “He saw how different the world looked to him when he was there, away from home and friends and family, all familiarity,” explained Tiehan. “He began to notice that his feeling bored and alone really shaded his perspective, and the idea for the film was born.”

King sent Tiehen an early video, which eventually became a fully-realized film project with a script, storyboarding and actors.

“We all met at Edmonds-Woodway High School in theater class,” Tiehen explained. “We took a play production class where we learned different aspects of theater —  marketing, set design, acting, lighting.”

The film took about a year to complete and was officially launched March 6 online. “We entered it into the Seattle International Film Festival but didn’t get chosen,” said Tiehen, “but we did get into an online film festival Lift-Off Sessions.”

Because the film highlights the distorted reality isolation can bring on, Tiehen can’t help but make the connection to social distancing caused by the coronavirus. “We didn’t mean to release it during such a period, but given the timing that it came out with all this going on, I think it could be a good reminder that a lot of reality is determined by our own thoughts and perspectives,” Tiehen said. “And sometimes it’s important that we remember to take on a different view. So even though the film wasn’t meant to be timed like this, I hope people can see the message embedded within.”

Meanwhile, Tiehen, King and other collaborators are busy with their independent production company, Thespian Studios, which produces short films, wedding videos and other content. FInancing the work is whatever they can sock away from their day jobs.

And they’re working on several new film projects. “For sure we want to do this for our careers,” Tiehen said. “Hollywood? Maybe someday. We’re getting our foot in the door, breaking in slowly. We just want to be able to make a living off what we’re doing.”

Watch a trailer for the film here bit.ly/shadedtrailer and the full film here bit.ly/shadedshortfilm

— By Connie McDougall


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