Questions and Answers with Aerin

Q. How old were you when you wrote the script and acted in After the Knight?

A. I was 14 when I wrote the script and did most of the acting in the film. 

Q. How long is the film?

A. After the Knight is approximately 116 minutes.

Q. How did you decide on the title? 

A. My daddy, Gary, suggested the title. It has a two-part meaning. First, the kids in the movie are following clues that use a chess knight as the treasure hunt symbol. So the kids are going after the knight. Secondly, over the course of the movie, the family goes from thinking they are going to lose their farm to the wonderful blessing of having a new start. One way of looking at it, is that they go from the “night” of thinking they are going to lose their farm to what comes after the “night,” their new start or the “morning!”

Q. Is it a family film?

A. Yes, but the fire scene may be scary for little ones. 

Q. Where did you get the idea to write and produce a film?

A. I have always liked watching movies, but The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was the first movie I remember getting really excited about. I watched The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at the beginning of 2010, and about that time I started watching more movies. I love watching movies. I also really like behind the scenes, commentaries, the making of movies, and other special features. So I learned a lot that year just from watching movies and behind the scenes and listening to my daddy telling about films and how people made them. 

Then at the beginning of 2011, my sister Joelle (Marian) and our friend Hannah Speer (Rachel) got the idea to make a movie of their own. They talked to some of our other friends, and a bunch of them wanted to help. Well, I was interested, too, but I felt that their story needed work, so I offered to write the script. I asked my daddy what kind of movie he would make if he had to have a bunch of kids in it. He said he would make a treasure hunt movie. We talked about ideas for a story about a treasure hunt, and I wrote some of the script based on that conversation.

I am homeschooled and was about to enter high school. Daddy, Mama, and I discussed what courses I would take. Daddy had always assumed I would take an art elective, but I asked if I could do an elective on making movies. Daddy said I could do a cinematography elective, and so that’s what I did. And the adventure began.  

Q. What special curriculum/resources/tools have you used for this project?

A. Microsoft Word, Star Wars: A New Hope script, a Dell laptop, an iMac computer, iMovie (a movie editing program), Final Cut Pro X (another movie editing program), a Canon HV 30 video camera, halogen lights, a boom mic, and an improvised paint roller boom pole are the main things we used. I don’t remember and I’m not sure I could list everything we have used throughout this process. We did not use any special curriculum but pretty much learned by trial and error as we went along.

Q. Who wrote the script?

A. Daddy helped come up with some of the ideas and story plot, but I wrote most of the actual script. 

Q. How long did it take you to write the initial rough draft?

A. I think it took about three months.

Q. Where did you film After the Knight? What were the locations?

A. We shot the film at the homes and on the property of friends and family. We also filmed at Fulton Technology, Calvary Baptist Church, and Shelby Airport. 

Q. How many people are in your cast? How many main characters are in After the Knight?

A. The cast included 67 people, if you count all the extras. I would say After the Knight has seven main characters, the gang and Michael.

Q. Where did you find your cast? Did they have to audition?

A. Our cast was mostly just friends and family who we asked to do the parts. We didn’t have any auditions but just trusted that God would give us the people we needed and that they would be right for the parts.

Q. How long did the actual filming take?

A. The majority of filming (production) took place during the summer of 2011 over about 4 months.

Q. How long did editing last?

A. We started editing during the summer of 2011 and finished editing in November 2012. Editing took over a year – a very long time. 

Q. What new skills have you acquired or developed through filmmaking?

A. I think one of the biggest things I learned was how to work with and get along with people, especially in stressful situations or when those people weren’t doing what I wanted them to do.
I think God has also used the filmmaking process to teach me patience and to learn to extend grace to others. I haven’t completely learned those lessons, though! God is still teaching me many things!
Of course, I learned how to write a movie script.
On the more technical side, I learned more about how to use an iMac computer, a Canon HV 30 camera, and the editing programs iMovie and Final Cut Pro.

Q. What has been the most difficult thing in the filmmaking process?

A. Probably the most difficult thing we’ve had to deal with has been our own inexperience and working with people who are unpaid and inexperienced, too. We sometimes had a lot of trouble working around everyone’s schedules and getting ourselves and everyone else motivated enough to keep going. Our inexperience has made this project difficult. We’ve made so many mistakes! But on the other hand, we were all learning together, so there were positives to that as well.    

Q. What has been your favorite thing about filmmaking?

A. I think my favorite thing so far in the filmmaking process has been writing the script. I love writing and coming up with story ideas and creating and developing characters. Also, I could control the script. I could make the character say exactly what I wanted them to say. But when we were actually filming, who knows what might come out of the actors’ mouths! 

Q. If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently? What have you learned through trial and error?

A. I would try to pray aloud with actors every day on set. I’m ashamed to say we didn’t always pray before starting our shoot. I was praying inside, and I’m sure others were as well, but we didn’t always remember to pray aloud together.

I would attempt to be more organized. Before filming another movie, I would like to know more about the responsibilities and tasks of director, producer, costume designer, grips, etc., so that I could be better at my job and find people who would do well at the other jobs. I think it would be good to accomplish all the filming in a certain concentrated time frame. I would like to have dedicated people and regular volunteers to assist with all the various jobs around set. I think it would help to have more adults involved. 

Q. Has this project inspired you to do more filmmaking?

A. Yes! If it is God’s will, I would love to make more movies for His glory.

Q. Are you interested in a filmmaking career?

A. I am interested in a filmmaking career, but what I want more than anything is God’s will for my life. So right now, I am praying about my future, keeping up with After the Knight, and finishing high school. 

Q. What advice would you offer to other students who are interested in pursuing a project like this?

A. Pray. Get the help of your parents and possibly other adults. Watch “behind the scenes,” especially ones similar to the kind of movie you want to make. Read at least one movie script. Start simple. Know your actors and locations, and write your script for those specific people and places. Spend the extra money to get good sound. People will put up with slightly fuzzy pictures, but not bad sound. Be organized. Think through your scenes; plan when and how you are going to shoot them. Don’t rush; take time to get good performances and plenty of footage to work with. Seek God’s will in all you do and in all the decisions you make. Enjoy the process! May God bless your efforts for His glory.  

Q. What do you want people to take away from your film?

A. After the Knight is a story about a young man who tries as hard as he can to save his family’s farm but eventually realizes that only God can save his farm. He has to let go of it, and in the end, God comes through in an unexpected way. I want people to realize that God is ultimately in control of our lives, and we have to give the things in our lives to Him, faithfully do what He has called us to do, and trust Him with the results. 
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Q. How much did it cost to make After the Knight?

A. As best as we could tell we spent around $3,500.00 on it.