Interview with ADIRA Director Bradley J. Lincoln. It’s An Ageless Tale of Family and How a Bond Can Never be Broken

(Watch the trailer for ADIRA here on Youtube)

Bradley J. Lincoln-Co-Writer/Director ADIRA Movie

Film Courage: Where did you grow up?

Bradley J. Lincoln: I Grew up in Harrisonville, MO. A small town outside of Kansas City. I had 2 brothers close in age. For a large portion of my life, I lived in rural neighborhoods with neighbors being at least 100 yards away and a 15 minute drive to school. I had a child hood full of imaginative play. I spent most of my summer days at my grandparent’s farm as we were encouraged to work hard, play hard, and most of all, be ourselves. My grandpa was a hard headed yet creative soul and loved taking photos and videos. It wasn’t until we were cleaning out their house after he passed away, that I realized where I had gotten my creative spirit from. He had a vast collection of cameras, several hours of 8mm footage and thousands of 35mm slides and other prints in his closet.

Film Courage: Did your parents encourage acting or attempt to point you in another direction?

Bradley: My parents encouraged me to follow my passions, but they also encouraged me to approach my future logically. If I really wanted to succeed, hard work, consistency, and knowledge would get me there. I came to the realization that I preferred the thrill of being on set calling the shots, so I pursued filmmaking instead of acting.

Scene from ADIRA movie — coming soon via Sunset Studios — more info here!

Film Courage: Did you go to film school?

Bradley :Yes, Full Sail University. I graduated 2008 after completing a very rigorous and challenging degree program.

“When my script wasn’t chosen for the final project, I decided to become the documentarian and head up my own production. Some of my classmates would joke with me by saying, “You’re not supposed to have a BTS video that is better than the actual film.” It was a lot of fun.” Bradley J. Lincoln — ADIRA Movie

Film Courage: Most important course/class from your time at Full Sail University?

Bradley: I gravitated towards my Directing classes since it was my chosen career field. It was important for me to showcase my talents as a director on my thesis project. When my script wasn’t chosen for the final project, I decided to become the documentarian and head up my own production. Some of my classmates would joke with me by saying, “You’re not supposed to have a BTS video that is better than the actual film.” It was a lot of fun.

Film Courage: What is your most valuable asset?

Bradley: My intuition and positive attitude are my greatest assets. When something feels right and I set my mind to it, I accomplish it.

Film Courage: How important are details in everything you do? How much does obsessing over details make or break a project?

Bradley: I’m very detail oriented to the point where some even say I am a control freak. I don’t just pay attention the details because it “has to be perfect,” I pay attention to the details because of the overall big picture. I hold everything to a certain standard, and that standard changes as I grow as a story teller. In order to maintain a level of quality, you have no choice but to focus on the details.

Irene Delmonte — Co-Writer/Producer for ADIRA

Film Courage: How did you end up collaborating with writer/producer Irene Delmonte for the movie ADIRA?

Bradley: Working alongside my wife was a no brainer. She was writing short stories, song lyrics and was attending fashion design school when we first met. I always thought she was very talented. I wanted to collaborate with her in life .We share a passion for film and the entertainment industry.We’re always asking ourselves and each other, “what is the next project?” So when the idea of Adira came along, it was the perfect answer to that question. Naturally we both jumped on board, and quickly fell into the roles we played in the process. Irene and I are always brainstorming some sort of idea and when something like Adira clicks, we just go for it.

ADIRA MOVIE: A young Jewish girl flees from the grasp of the Gestapo and finds herself stranded on an abandoned farm.

Film Courage: What inspired the story for ADIRA?

Bradley: We had just received 1st place in a local film competition the night before. While standing on my mother’s porch, we were looking at an old summer kitchen built in 1903. Because of the history of the building and its visual aesthetic, we were inspired. I pondered, “There is someone in there. Who is in there, and why?” So the brainstorming began. We were getting a lot of local industry attention because of the competition and thought that we needed to take advantage of it. So Irene began to develop the idea immediately.

Film Courage: How do you and Irene know when to “meet in the middle” with an idea?

Bradley: Even though we share similar passions, Irene and I have very different talents and skill sets. We respect each others talents and ideas. We have learned to encourage each other and utilize our strengths and fill in for each other’s weaknesses. When we both agree on an idea, Irene or myself start to flesh it out on paper. It just depends on who has a clearer vision of the idea. From there, we continue to brainstorm and edit together, with one person taking the lead visually and the other as reinforcement. We meet in the middle by being supportive and cheering each other on.

Film Courage: How long have you been planning the film?

Bradley: We began the writing process in January of 2013. Irene wrote out the summary and the majority of the scenes on her phone when inspiration struck. She researched the era extensively and even received feedback from WWII experts. While finalizing the script, we continued the pre production process and set a casting date. We broke down the script into scenes and began organizing shoot dates.There were at least 4 months of rigorous planning. Principal photography began in late June . Since the majority of the film took place in my mother’s summer kitchen, most of the planning consisted of finding the right wardrobe, crew and talent.

Film Courage: How long was the idea floating around in your head and/or Irene’s before writing ADIRA?

Bradley: I always wanted to film something in that summer kitchen ever since I got into filmmaking, but Irene began writing that same night after we had our “moment of inspiration” on the porch.

“We had a rough outline to ensure that the structure of the story made sense, but Irene wrote simultaneously. I personally like to write out each scene on notecards so I can visualize the script as I am writing. Irene (Delmonte) writes in summary form and always in order.” Bradley J. Lincoln — ADIRA Movie

Film Courage: Do you outline before you begin writing a script?

Bradley: Yes and no. We had a rough outline to ensure that the structure of the story made sense, but Irene wrote simultaneously. I personally like to write out each scene on notecards so I can visualize the script as I am writing. Irene writes in summary form and always in order.

Film Courage: Had other books or personal stories about The Holocaust affected you before beginning ADIRA with Irene?

Bradley: WW2 and the Holocaust is a very intriguing period for us. Irene was greatly influenced by books from her childhood such as Number the Stars and Diary of Anne Frank. As Irene did her research, she ran across many stories on the “Hidden Children” of the holocaust. Not very many stories were told about the millions of children that were separated from their families and then never reunited.

Scene from ADIRA movie — coming soon via Sunset Studios — more info here!

Film Courage: How long did it take you to write the first draft and rewrites?

Bradley: The full first draft was finished within the first 3 weeks. It was originally written as a short film — only 20 pages. As we went into casting, there were several rewrites made so we could develop a few of the characters a little more. There were a few pages added in order to “beef” up the plot within the last month of pre-production.

Film Courage: How many people did you share the script with during the writing process?

Bradley: Like any project we work on, we don’t usually share scripts until it is finished. It has to be a “grand reveal.” We usually pitch our ideas to friends and families, especially our parents to see if our ideas are at least somewhat intriguing, but other than that it was just between Irene and myself.

Scene from ADIRA movie — coming soon via Sunset Studios — more info here!

Film Courage: Do you begin a script with the beginning and ending in mind?

Bradley: Most definitely. We do not move ahead with an idea unless it has at least a beginning and an end, even if either changes during the writing process. Irene had a very specific beginning in mind where there had to be a lot of tension. Since the movie has a slower pace during the second act, we knew that we needed to get the story started quickly. She also knew that we wanted Adira to be a survivor, although you have to watch the film to see how it actually plays out.

Film Courage: What is the most important aspect of building a great character?

Bradley: A great character to me is someone that is real. And to make this character as realistic as possible, you have to give them a deep backstory. You put them in an environment and you have to make the audience believe that they belong there. You have to ask a lot of questions but the most important question is, what would that person do in [this] situation? How would this situation play out in real life? You can only write so much in the script when it comes to character descriptions. Really the most important aspect is the collaboration between the director(s) and the actor. There has to be mutual trust and the actor needs to be willing to immerse themselves in that character’s world. That is why I am a big fan of method. Live that character, be that character.

Film Courage: How do you know when your script is done?

Bradley: Knowing that we had to get the project started right away, we got to a point where the story made sense, and instantly began the casting process. It just feels right. You step back and nod your head and say to yourself… “it’s ready.”

Scene from ADIRA movie — coming soon via Sunset Studios — more info here!

Film Courage: Did your lead actor Andrea Fantauzzi audition for the role of ADIRA? How did you know she was right for the role?

Bradley: We had a screen test with Andrea but then waited to officially sign her on until the open casting call concluded. We wanted someone that could look the part. Early on we decided that we wanted one actress to play the part of younger Adira and teenage Adira. Essentially this actor would have to play multiple characters. During Andrea’s call back we had her read for the younger Adira. That’s when we knew she fit the role.

Film Courage: How did you pitch the script to your actors (including Andrea and other cast)? Where did you post casting calls?

Bradley: Getting to play a part in a WW2 picture was enticing enough for most of the actors, but when they read the plot summary we didn’t have to do a lot of convincing. Also because of the short film we had just released, people were eager to work with us. We did some pre-casting of the main characters on social media and urged a few known local names to go to the open casting call. We utilized local film groups to spread the word as well as sent out the casting notice to several local agencies. Kansas City is super supportive and the word spread quickly. We held the casting ourselves over a weekend at the Historical Kansas City Livestock Exchange building. We really enjoy watching people audition and seeing their potential unfold, so we knew that we wanted to personally cast these characters that we had gotten to know so well.

Film Courage: Did any actors from your prior short films join you on the set of ADIRA?

Bradley: Once we find a talent we enjoy working with, we like to work with them again even if it’s on a smaller scale. There were a few actors that filled featured extra roles, but this was mostly an original cast.

Film Courage: How did you get the most authentic performances from your actors?

Bradley: It was mostly good casting. I was always reminding them to take their time to respond to each other in many situations. Reactions could be sped up later. Irene would also talk backstory a lot and what motivates their characters intrinsically. After we figured that out I would then encourage them to insert a part of themselves as actors and not characters that related to the scene; heartbreak, disappointment, hunger, etc. I can’t take all the credit for this, but I’m sure a lot of it had to do with the environments we were in. It wasn’t hard to explain that Adira was tired and miserable when Andrea had to deal with the elements for so long.

Film Courage: Where did you shoot the film/secure the locations?

Bradley: Most of the film was shot on my mother’s farm and my uncle’s farm. The rest was shot in the Harris-Kearney House Museum in Kansas City which we found through Associate Producer Roger Denesha. The museum is a non-profit business and they were thrilled to have us there and we were thrilled to be there.

Film Courage: What camera(s), lens package and sound equipment did you use?

Bradley: We shot on a RED one with a Nikon and a Rokinon Lens kit. As for audio, our awesome sound guy, C.J Drummeler with took care of that. Film Courage: How long was the shoot? The shoot ended up being non-consecutive days. Most of the cast and crew had busy schedules, so we made due by shooting on weekends and nights.
 
Film Courage: Which scene from ADIRA was the most emotionally difficult for you? Which was most technically difficult?

Bradley: The entire film was a challenge in different ways. Two scenes stick out to me specifically. The first one was getting shots of the wolf. She was a beautiful, docile animal and we had a hard time getting her to look mean and scary. Her handler was afraid that if we riled her up too much that she might react with her natural wild instincts…. The other scene was where a man and woman were shot “execution style.” This was for 2 reasons. The first was because I was ambushed by hundreds of mosquitos… literally it was terrifying. But secondly, we were in the middle of a field with no power or lights. And it got dark fast. Luckily, it was a full moon, and the brightest of the year and we utilized headlights. I’d say it turned out really well all in all.

Film Courage: Of your previous body of work what was helpful in making this feature film? What would have caught you by surprise if you hadn’t had these experiences?

Bradley: Of course I learned a lot from this experience, but I would have to say the ability to plan out my shots and the scheduling aspect. And to be honest, not a lot catches me off guard anymore. Problems happen all the time. It’s just the nature of the game. But if you don’t embrace the fact that you will be required to troubleshoot on the spot, then a “typical” problem could turn into tragic event. Because of my previous work I have learned to not overreact. There’s nothing worse than looking at your crew as they have the “he doesn’t know what he’s doing” look on their face when you don’t know how to handle a situation. I just step back and take a minute to work it out, can it, or come back to it later. And people need encouragement — a reminder that they are doing their job well and that you appreciate their hard work.

Scene from ADIRA movie — coming soon via Sunset Studios — more info here!

Film Courage: Are you a director who prefers many takes or limited takes?

Bradley: It depends on what the shot is and the project. With limited time and budget, we have to try and get the shot within 3–4 takes. If it’s a shot that is crucial to the plot or character arc, then we will get as many takes as we need. I’m also an editor, so I know a lot of little timing issues can be adjusted later on. I guess you can say I’m more of a “measure twice, cut once” type director. Spend more time rehearsing before you get on set, rehearse once or twice before the take. Most of the time if it doesn’t feel right then we go again until we get it right. This usually happens at the beginning of the day.

Film Courage: What do you feel is your most prized shot in ADIRA and why?

Bradley: The shot where Adira first wakes up in the summer kitchen. Even though it is cut into several different shots, it was actually a one-shot where I followed her around as she explored. This is a shot where I operated the camera and it was just Andrea and me. So it has a lot of my personal shooting style. While planning this, I wanted to find a way to cover the entire summer kitchen so the audience could get a sense of her environment, and so they could get geographically oriented with the location. It was such a small building, that it was difficult to get the right coverage, so that it didn’t feel like a closet. It was important for her to feel trapped in a way but since such a large amount of the film took place there, we had to establish it in some way. I thought, let’s establish her surroundings right off bat so we didn’t have to worry about it later on. Overall I think it had a very nice minimalistic concept to it and it came out exactly the way I imagined.

Scene from ADIRA movie — coming soon via Sunset Studios — more info here!

Film Courage: How did you choose the beautiful musical score?

Bradley: We wanted something unique in the sense that it wasn’t your typical large orchestra. We wanted to go a very organic, and minimalistic route. Much like the overall concept of the film. Out of all the music we listened to and the composers, Sam Billen was the only one that could offer that style.

Film Courage: Advice to others on creative partnerships? How do you keep harmony and balance ideas?

Bradley: This is the greatest thing about filmmaking. No matter how strong of a friendship you have with your peers or filmmaking partners, there will be some tense moments. But this is good. There HAS to be ups and downs. It’s a long and emotional process. People are bound to get frustrated. If everything is great all of the time… then you’re either working with robots or someone is not being true to their opinion…or they respect your decisions and authority… So The best thing I would say, is respect one another’s visions, appreciate one another’s talents and respect and trust one another’s professional opinions. They wouldn’t be there if you didn’t think they could do their job.

Also never have a heated debate in front of the crew… ever… this will freak everyone out… Planning goes along way as well. Try to get all the kinks out before you start bring a bunch of other people on board.

Film Courage: You’ve previously worked as a freelance filmmaker. For others looking to make this their path, what can you advise on looking, booking and keeping work (or clients happy)?

Bradley: Try to be a good person — be kind. Go above and beyond expectations. Never complain but set boundaries. Go out and work for cheap until you master your craft and people get to know you — Word of mouth is the best marketing. You need your industry to trust you before you can find clients that will. I just had someone contact me asking that I submit a bid for a project. I replied saying that I was out of town and I couldn’t do it. I then suggested someone else that I know would be a good fit. That’s just one example.
 
 No matter your struggles or insecurities if you have them, always remember one thing. You. Are. A. Professional. And most of all, BE PATIENT. So work on your poker face…

Film Courage: When editing ADIRA what was your biggest challenge?
 
Bradley: This was my first feature, and I had already been working on this film for almost 7 months… then I had to sit and edit for another 5–6 months. Just having the endurance was something that I had to build up. For the most part I really enjoyed editing this film. Everything was shot and organized well so I didn’t have to worry about too many cover ups. I’d say the toughest scene to edit was the dream sequence. I had never edited anything in that style and coming up with the right look and visual effects was certainly challenging. There was a point where I just didn’t know how to tie it all together. The timing was off.. and then I thought, “why don’t I use some footage from the promotional video that we shot prior to actually filming the movie?” After that it all came together. How did you determine what scenes to include in the trailer for ADIRA?
 
 This was the basic message we wanted to get across: A young Jewish girl is separated from her family during the Holocaust, and she is stranded for a long time and has to survive on her own. Then some [stuff] goes down and it get’s intense.
 
 It all comes down to taste. We had to find what we thought were dynamic shots that said something specific about the story, but didn’t say too much. Even shots like the butterfly on the flower was important. This showed that she was away from the danger at first and that she was living in the wilderness. Plus who doesn’t like flowers and butterflies?? Irene also played an important role. I would cut something together and present it to her. She would either say it was awesome or suggest some minor tweaks. I think it is important to have a second or third set of eyes to ensure you have the most compelling story. Because an artist is so close to their material, how much should someone surrender their ideas to an outside opinion? When do you listen to others ideas and when do you stick to your own? I always welcome outside opinions… but I don’t always surrender my ideas. I personally stick to my ideas the best that I can. I never brush off ideas that I haven’t thought of, though. But if it is something that is important to the story or it is already planned out really well, then it will be hard to get me to budge. On the other hand, if your DP is telling you that a shot wont work because of a specific reason, then you should seriously take their opinion into consideration.

Film Courage: What universal themes are explored in ADIRA?

Bradley:Courage, love, hope, fear, choices, survival, coming of age, Coping with tragedy, Discovering the world around us.

Scene from ADIRA movie — coming soon via Sunset Studios — more info here!

Film Courage: Briefly describe the appeal you think your film will have for audiences?
 
Bradley: Grandparents, parents and children alike will find something in this film that speaks to them. It is an ageless tale of family and how it is a bond that can never be broken. Life during WW2 and the Holocaust is a very appealing subject to most audiences and we put a unique spin on the typical Holocaust film.

Film Courage: Aside from being a feature, how does ADIRA primarily differentiate or distinguish itself from other work?
 
 It was shot with a very minimalistic approach but it still had to create an expansive story. On the production side of things, we wanted to create a lasting relationship with the KC film industry. We were getting a lot of positive responses before we started filming. People wanted to help in any ways that they could. We had a packed theater for a limited “work in progress” screening. The most special thing about Adira was that it was an inspiration to other filmmakers.


Scene from ADIRA movie — coming soon via Sunset Studios — more info here!

Film Courage: What do you want audiences to gain from watching ADIRA?

Bradley: A greater understanding of the grief, struggles, and tribulations that these Jewish families endured during the Holocaust. I also want them to gain a further appreciation for their families. Hold them a little closer and not take them for granted.

BIO:

Bradley J. Lincoln graduated from Full Sail University in 2008 with a B.S. in Film Studies. He is a director, editor, DOP, and producer.

ADIRA movie will be released by Sunset Undiscovered, a division of Sunset Studios. More information here!

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Stay tuned for more info on how to watch ADIRA here

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