Lights, Camera, Action
N.Y. film student features St. Charles in movie
New York School of Visual Arts senior, Danny Walton, chose a rock road along a canal in Luling and the old St. Charles Parish jail lock-up as two of the primary locations for his coming-of-age drama that zeros in on the seemingly mediocre life of a 15-year-old girl, her pill-addicted father and her soldier brother who prematurely returns from Iraq.
Walton, who is credited as both the film’s writer and director, points out that all the roles cast for the film were filled by local actors, mostly Hahnville High School students and Luling resident Glenn Robin.
“I chose St. Charles Parish for some of my locations because it was convenient,” he said. “I’m originally from Marrero, but my sister now lives in Luling, and when I was looking for a prison to shoot in, I knew that New Orleans or Gretna would most likely be too busy, so I didn’t even bother.
“And I used all local actors in this film because I really wanted a genuine sense of the location and the characteristics of the people from here to show in my work.”
“Acting Your Age” was originally scheduled to be filmed last November, but had to be postponed after Walton fell off a roof in Brooklyn while filming a music video, shattering both of his heels.
“The movie is loosely based on events in my own life,” said Walton. “I began writing the screenplay with the message of accepting the people in your life for who they are - flaws and all, but after my accident I faced a lot of challenges and realized how much we take for granted.”
Inspired by people who overcome extreme misfortunes, Walton spent most of the preproduction for the film in an out of hospitals in a wheelchair.
And being away from his home while physically disabled motivated a story about a girl who acknowledges her unfortunate situation and uses it to become a better person.
“Experiencing life physically disabled, waist level to the world and dependent upon good friends to help me do very simple everyday tasks, really changed the way that I think,” he said.
Walton says that the hardest aspect of writing the screenplay was actually finding a stopping point.
“When I write, I overthink way too much and second-guess everything,” he said. “I would just reach a point and have to tell myself to move on to the next step.”
Walton mentions that pre-production is his least favorite part of filmmaking, adding that directing is easier.
“When you thoroughly understand the story and the characters and you cast the right actors, directing becomes easy,” he said. “It’s still a challenge, but when you can trust your actors as a collaborative equal who understand the people they are playing, it makes the rehearsal and production a lot of fun.”
Walton’s resume contains a long list of many short films and other students projects, but he says that he has recently found a niche within motion graphics.
“Currently, I’m working on a video for a Brooklyn-based band called ‘The Benjee’s,’” he said. “We shot the entire video on greenscreen, and now are going to lose a lot of sleep creating the graphics.”
As a student filmmaker, Walton has a few words of wisdom for those interested in pursuing a career in visual arts.
“Be ambitious, be stubborn and be open-minded,” he said. “No matter how impossible it seems, if it is what you want, just do it.”
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