After a trying miscarriage, Gwen and Jeremy retreat to a cabin in the woods to reconnect with nature and each other. It was a fine idea, but even such idyllic surroundings can't bring them out of their grief and despair. At a local bar, they meet Mike, a down-and-out woodsman, who threatens to send them spiraling deeper into darkness if given the chance.
| The Garden still frames
The Garden is my second collaboration with writer and director, Josh Lehman. Like many projects I've worked on, it's taken a long, winding road to fruition, but that's the nature of indie film projects sometimes.
It started simply enough. In 2014, high off the completion of his first film, The Unfinished Artist, Josh approached me with his next script that was a largely dialog-based drama about a couple who seeks refuge in the woods after suffering a miscarriage.
The story was straightforward enough but ripe with symbolism about how we perceive our place in the world and how that informs the way we react to the existence of evil. Also, being contained in terms of cast and location, we thought production would be quick and smooth.
Sometimes things don't quite work out as planned though.
Accessing our shooting locations took a bit of work. We shot in Huntington Lake, CA, which isn't terribly difficult to access, but the logistics involved in getting from one place to another once we were up there proved more than we'd planned for.
We had initially planned to shoot the film in one go, but we were overoptimistic in our planning and due to time constraints, we were unable to shoot the entirety of a very long scene in a bar. This meant that we'd be coming back another day to shoot just that–an expensive proposition.
The benefit of doing this was that Josh and editor, Aiko Terui were able to edit the parts of the film we were able to shoot before going back up, so we could be more intentional about what we needed in order to fill in the gaps.
After the second trip up, we had the film in the can, and the post-production team was able to finish things up to the point of a tentative picture lock.
| The Garden BTS photos
Then, things slowed to a halt unexpectedly. Josh's dad began having serious health issues, and he needed to shelf the project indefinitely.
It was years before he was able to pick it back up again.
Once he had the freedom to think about the film again, it was a quick matter of tidying up loose ends and doing one last edit pass, since both Josh and Aiko found things about the film they both wanted to change, albeit slightly.
I also ended up re-coloring the film. After so many years passing my initial color pass, I wanted to do something different, and I'm glad I did. The look now–start and desaturated–is much more appropriate for the themes of the story in my opinion.
I guess these unforeseen delays sometimes happen for a reason. It would have been nice to have finished the film much earlier, but it was only because of the time we had to stew on things that we ended up making the final creative decisions that we did. In the end, it became the film it was meant to be, but it was a trying process, for Josh especially.
Be warned, it's not an easy film to watch. It's full of discomfort and questions with no easy answers. But it's a film I genuinely appreciate and enjoy watching for the brilliant performances, inspired writing, and meticulously crafted editing. If you have the chance to watch, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
The Garden is currently in the final stages of post-production. I'll post a link to watch it here as soon as it becomes available.
Gina Won – "Gwen"
Tommy Harkness – "Jeremy"
Josh Lehman – "Mike"
Noel Von Joo – "Bartender"
Key Crew
Josh Lehman – Writer, Director, Editor
Tommy Harkness – Producer
Gina Won – Producer
Jared Raun – Producer, Assistant Director
Aiko Terui – Editor
Mackenzie Mathis – Cinematographer, Colorist
Dan Juenemann – Gaffer
Piece Whang – Location Sound
Steve Loveless – Original Score
Kevin Crawford – Sound Designer, Re-recording Mixer

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