Directed by Logan George and Celine Held –
In the middle of a Texas summer, plans for a babysitter fall through and six-year-old Caroline is left in charge of her two younger siblings.
GFM: Your situation is unique as a married Writing-Directing team. We would love to hear a little bit about how your collaboration together works so well.
Logan: Well, we always talk about how we can’t really imagine doing it on our own – we certainly spent years making stuff by ourselves – but we’ve been on this trajectory since we started working together. Even in terms of taking meetings, or having interviews, we bounce ideas off each other all the time and that’s the only way we could work. We’re like each other’s own eyes, and we call each other on our bullshit.
Celine: We also do a lot of work as just a two person crew. All of our commercial work so far has been just the two of us. And also, in all of our short form narrative work, and our commercial work, we take the entire piece from conception to the finish line, so we write everything that we’ve made so far and we edit it. I think that I just trust Logan without a second thought.
Logan: Yeah, we’re really always on the same page.
GFM: How did the concept for your new film Caroline come about?
Celine: The father of the kids in Caroline is kind of a family friend, and he had seen Mouse (Logan and Celine’s previous short film, released in 2017) and just said to us offhandedly, “If you ever want to put my kids in something, we’re down.”
Logan: They’re all siblings, they’re all from the same family, so it was always going to be a story that involved all three of the kids, at that age. The story itself, though, is based off a lot of true accounts.
Celine: Yeah, there are three women, primarily, who this story is based off. One story in Florida, one in Texas, and one in Arizona. All mothers who either had a second job interview or a final job interview. One was taking her final nursing exam. They’re low income families, single mothers, whose child care fell through at the last second, and they made the decision to leave their children in the car, all with the air conditioning on. But, all received jail time, probation, huge fines. We’re really interested in telling stories about characters in a gray field, rather than black or white. We don’t have a side that we’re on between the mother and the good samaritan in Caroline. We just felt like this story was really ripe, a story worth telling and worth exploring.
GFM: What was your experience working with three young children and how did you manage to get such well-timed and convincing performances from them?
Logan: Well, we lived with them for close to a month, before we shot. We were originally just visiting them, and then the parents were like, “You should just move in, ’cause you’re here all the time.”
Celine: They’re in Texas. We live in New York, so we went down to Texas, about a month and a half before we shot.
Logan: We just knew that that was going to be really important, to cultivate this really strong trust with them and build that relationship, because they were obviously the biggest variable in the whole piece. And, there were certain constricts to the film, like that the two kids in the back were locked into their car seats for the most of the film, so it was actually a relatively controlled environment. It wasn’t like shooting something where you’ve got three kids that could completely do whatever they want at any given time.
Celine: Also, that I play the mother, just ended being the most, kind of glue, we feel. That wasn’t our original plan, and then it just turned into something that ended up being really necessary. We both have acting degrees from NYU. Logan, actually, is in Mouse. And so, sometimes times we act in our own stuff, when we feel like it’s appropriate, and this ended up just kind of falling into place.
Logan: Seeing the relationship that was building between Caroline – her name’s actually Caroline – and Celine, we just recognized that actually, it would be this huge asset for Celine to be in the work with them. Celine was able to really craft their performances. We could just keep doing takes without stopping and starting, and find our way through a scene, navigating it, because Celine was completely in control of what they were responding to – how she would talk to them and what they would say back.
GFM: You were in the backseat shooting when they were in the front seat?
Logan: Yeah. Well, that’s the other dynamic, it’s actually quite piecemeal. When the camera’s in the back, you can’t have the kids back there, when the camera’s in the front, you can only have one or two of the people in there. So, it is actually quite broken up, and it’s the amazing concept of editing that we’re able to stitch it together. You could really isolate the performances. You could focus on getting a specific type of reaction from, say, one of the kids in the back, and then stitch that in wherever you needed it. In the editing process, we were very conscious of making sure that the car felt full the whole time, ’cause nine times out of ten shooting it, the actors were not all actually there together at any given time. You’re always sort of cheating one aspect.
GFM: You’ve made several short films now. Can you discuss your views on the short film format and its place in your careers?
Celine: We love shorts.
Logan: We just love them. It’s sort of like an untapped field where you can tell really amazing, engaging stories. We’re against the idea of proof of concepts, specifically because it’s the idea of building something, really feeling that the better version of it is feature length. We don’t feel that way about any of our shorts. They’re short because they need to be this exact length. This is the only amount of story that we’re interested in telling about these particular characters in this time.
Celine: Vimeo has done such an incredible job at championing the short format, and that’s really inspired us. We’ve watched so many Staff Picks throughout the years. Hopefully we’ll never stop making shorts.
GFM: What does being accepted into the Palme d’Or Competition at Cannes mean to you?
Celine: It’s so exciting!
Logan: I’m really excited to meet all the fellow filmmakers that are gonna be there. I just feel like we’re gonna be surrounded by so many talented people. We’ve always had a wonderful time at festivals, experiencing all the other work.
Celine: And being inspired by it.
Logan: Yeah. I definitely think seeing the shorts at SXSW Film Festival, the first time we went there with Mouse, 100% gave us permission to make a short like Caroline.
Celine: Getting into Cannes is the biggest honor of our lives, so far. By far. And to be the only U.S. short film, it feels so crazy ’cause we just made this scrappy short and scrapped it together three days in Houston, Texas, with a bunch of kids, and I think it’s also really exciting that Cannes is excited about a story like this. About a family like this.
Celine and Logan’s first feature film “Little”, about a five year old girl who lives in tunnels beneath New York City, will be moving into production this Fall.
directors Logan George and Celine Held