Constellation art director Suze Myers finally took the plunge into filmmaking herself last year after several years of working as a graphic designer in the independent film industry. In 2017, she signed on as producer of a new short in development alongside her close friend and collaborator, Logan Lanier. Jetty follows a deaf girl living in a rural area, who uses her imagination to manifest happiness for herself in her loneliest moments. Filmed on a 640-acre hunting land in Suze and Logan’s hometown of Huntsville, Alabama, Jetty came to life through the talents of an entirely Southern-affiliated on-set crew. Here, Suze recalls the highlights of her team’s four intense days of shooting, and what she learned along the way.
8 a.m.: Logan and I get an early start. We go for a morning coffee with Lauren, the ASL translator who will be working with us on our shoot, and chat about her process and how the weekend will go. I can already tell I’m going to learn a lot from her.
2 p.m.: I’m driving Logan’s pickup truck this weekend, and I love it. During the drive to set, I feel my identity shift from “graphic designer” to “truck girl.”
3:00 p.m.: Gabriella Banda, our lead actress, arrives. She is 12 years old, adorable, and taller than me. We start rolling soon.
5:30 p.m.: Every time I look out at the jetty, I think of the scene in Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird where Julie is fighting with L.B. about The Tempest: “It is the titular role!”
7:00 p.m.: When we’re not rolling, Gabriella does this cute little dance out on the jetty.
9:00 p.m.: Fiona Green arrives on set. She plays Alex’s mom and is a seasoned actress—it’s so fun to watch her work. She and Lauren work together to get some sign language correct for her character’s dialogue. For the billionth time today, I am so thankful Lauren is here!
2:30 a.m.: I finally get to use the first aid kit I’ve been dragging around all day. I pull a gigantic tick off of a crew member’s [a.k.a. Logan’s] leg.
3:30 a.m.: I send out call sheets and try to go to bed. It’s so late but I somehow have insomnia, and have to watch at least three canonical Simpsons episodes before falling asleep.
5:30 p.m.: We’re shooting a scene with a cigarette today, so we show Gabriella how to light an herbal. She makes us both smoke one. She says they smell like green tea but taste like burnt cookies. She is right.
6:30 p.m.: While we’re waiting for lighting setups, Gabriella and Logan have a contest to see who can make the silliest face.
9:30 p.m.: Something (a beaver? A large rat?) died under our set. Filmmaking is so glamorous!
10:00 p.m.: Gabriella is so tired. Her mom tells me she tried to keep her in bed this morning, but Gabriella set an alarm for 7:15 a.m. because she wanted a waffle from the hotel breakfast buffet. She is a girl after my own heart.
1:00 a.m.: Logan, our 2nd AC, Adam, and I are outside waiting for a lighting setup when we hear some very loud howls. We are too tired to care if we get eaten by a pack of coyotes.
3:30 a.m.: Day wrapped. Call sheets go out. I get home, eat a bunch of leftover pie from day one’s craft services, and sleep hard.
11:00 a.m.: Logan texts me: the exterminator came to set this morning—it was a possum under the house! GROSS.
6:00 p.m.: We are FLYING through our shotlist today. Logan, Sebastian, and Gabriella are out on the jetty. Weary of its structural integrity, I decide to hang back while they do some key scenes.
6:15 p.m.: I’m scrolling through Instagram, and I realize that the cute little dance Gabriella keeps doing is actually a trendy dance move called “The Floss.”
6:20 p.m.: The more I read about this dance, the more confused I am. When did I get to be this old? Is this how my parents felt about the Stanky Leg in 2009?
6:30 p.m.: The entire crew at the boathouse tries to do “The Floss.” Only Sara, a PA who is a junior in high school, can do it correctly. I am convinced you have to be under 18 in order to move your body that way.
10:00 p.m.: We’re shooting a pivotal scene, and Gabriella’s getting a little sleepy. Her mom, Teresa, knows just what she needs: Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and a Coke Zero. Sara runs to the Texaco to retrieve these necessary items.
10:15 p.m.: We’re taking a break so Gabriella can rest a little bit. She tells me that our 1st AC, Sam, looks just like Niall Horan, so I ask him for his best One Direction impression. He uses a broom as a guitar and tries on a country accent. I’m pretty sure Sam doesn’t know who Niall Horan is, which only makes it funnier.
4:30 p.m.: I’m already sad that it’s our last day of shooting. We’re getting coverage on other parts of the property, and it’s nice to explore more of this beautiful landscape.
5:30 p.m.: Logan’s dad is driving us around in the pickup, and half of the crew is sitting in the truck bed as we race through a mustard-yellow field of flowers. This feels like a uniquely southern moment—one I won’t soon forget.
7:00 p.m.: By this point in the shoot, we are a well-oiled machine. Everyone knows where they need to be and what they need to do.
9:00 p.m.: Gabriella dares Logan to eat a dandelion. He does it.
11:00 p.m.: Gabriella is sitting on the couch listening to a Bruno Mars song and is signing the lyrics. She is going to make me ugly cry from the sweetness, so I leave the room and help with the camera team.
1:00 a.m.: It’s time for the “martini shot,” a.k.a the last shot of the four-day shoot. I can’t believe we’re done!
Logan and I have been working on this film for almost eight months, and to see it come together in real life is an incredible thing. I feel so lucky. This is the most fun I’ve ever had. ★
Special thanks to:
Shelby Akin, Gabriella Banda, Teresa Banda, Sam Boyette, Lauren Cash, Adam Doner, Bora Ercan, Michelob Fedusenko, Fiona Green, Will Humphrey, Harrison Hunter, Sara Hutchens, Frederick Lanier, Logan Lanier, Rick Myers, Andrew Piper, Jeff Roberts, Sebastian Lasaosa Rogers, Mitzi Sewell, and Wendy Yang.