A dark comedy inspired by the real-life modeling misadventures of former "America's Next Top Model" contestant, writer-director Marjorie Conrad. 
Irene, a twenty-three-year-old artistic misfit, pursues a modeling career to escape her dead-end retail job but is quickly disillusioned by the cutthroat nature of the Los Angeles fashion world. Searching for identity and a kindred spirit while surrounded by competition, absurdity, and so many nude bras, Irene flounders until a mysterious woman's performance ignites her imagination.
| Chemical Cut still frames
I met Marjorie Conrad through a mutual friend, producer Barrett Hacia. He was putting together a new project for her and she was shopping around for cinematographers. The film, Chemical Cut, would be a darkly satirical take on the modeling industry, and involve story elements loosely based on Marjorie's own experiences in her foray into that world. She planned to star in the film as well as direct, choosing the right key collaborators was really important for the film.
Very thankfully for me, she wanted to work together, which marked the start of a wonderful creative collaboration that continues today.
At the time, Marjorie lived in Los Angeles and had resources there to cover most of her production needs, but budget constraints forced us to shoot chunks of the film at a time rather than all at once. Every couple of months, my super amazing gaffer, Dan Juenemann, would make the drive from the Bay Area to LA and we'd shoot for one to two weeks at a time. It was pretty grueling, but I was younger and more able to handle discomfort for long periods of time back then.
| Chemical Cut BTS photos
The challenge with this film was mainly the fact that there were so many locations and we had very little prep time. If I was lucky, I'd get to see locations the night before, but a lot of the time, I would walk into locations blind on the day of shooting and we'd work out how to construct the scenes then and there. 
This was only practical to do because of Marjorie's extensive storyboards, so even if we needed to figure out how to light a scene, at least we knew what shots we needed. It worked surprisingly well, and the spontaneity and improvisation it brought to our workflow was really fun and fulfilling. Once we found a flow, it became like second nature.
| Chemical Cut still frame
After at least a few rounds of filming this way, we finished. It was bittersweet, as all endings are, but we have the film as a reminder of those times. I hope you enjoy it and can feel the blood, sweat, and tears that went into its making.
Slamdance Film Festival, 2016
New Hope Film Festival, 2016 (Winner: Female Eye Filmmaking Award)
Buffalo International Film Festival, 2016
Chemical Cut is currently available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime, or to stream free on YouTube.
Marjorie Conrad – "Irene"
Ian Coster – "Arthur"
Leah Rudick – "Spring"
Jane Noble – "Mom"
Stephen Saban – "Dad"
James Arnett – "Rachel"
Michael Lucid – "Booker"
Nicolas Coster – "Veteran"
David Hunter Jr. – "Invisible Man"
Key Crew
Marjorie Conrad – Writer, Director, Editor, Executive Producer
Barrett Hacia – Producer
Trevor Bailey – Producer
Sean Blau – Producer, Unit Production Manager
Mackenzie Mathis – Cinematographer, Colorist
Dan Juenemann – Chief Lighting Designer, Gaffer
Nick Hurtado – Post-production Supervisor
Alex Reeves – Sound Editor, Sound Mix
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