The following questions and answers are excerpted from a conversation that followed the NBR screening of A Love Song.
Where did this idea come from, and how did the project get moving?
Max Walker-Silverman: Umm… that’s the most reasonable question in the world, and I’ve never figured out the cleanest answer to it. A whole mix of things, I think. Falling in love seems to make people just want to tell stories about that same thing, and I have certainly been swept up in that old tradition. You know, writing for my home, and where I live, and what I see out my window every day… thinking about my community out there, my folks and their friends, where people are at in life. The way love was entering lives, and leaving it… and then I started picturing these actors, who I didn’t know, but admired dearly. And I write for very specific things: I wrote for that specific lake, I wrote for these specific actors, and I guess you spend enough time driving around listening to that music with these faces in your head, and these places out the window of your truck, and that starts to spin itself into scenes… and ideas. And the script kind of comes out of that. But I have to give a lot of credit to Dale and Wes. Even just the idea of it, they’re such inspiring performers, and I flattered myself by picturing them in the landscapes of my home, and was very honored that any piece of that came to fruition.
if we can spend any amount of time in a pleasant place, I think we aught to
What attracted you to the project?
Dale Dickey: In the simplest terms, Max wrote me a beautiful letter about why he wanted me for this role that he’d written. That is just one of the most moving things you can get. And I read the script, I saw two of his short films, and I knew he was talented… and I just loved the simplicity and the beauty and the pureness of the script, and it was going to be a challenge for me as an actress— I’d never gotten to do a lead role! And I’m middle aged, with this crazy face. It was, like, “Ok! Are you sure? Let’s go play!” I couldn’t say no, and it was my first job during COVID. I was a little nervous, so the only thing I remember I did say was, “I’ll come, but I’m not flying,” so I think Wes and I both drove to Colorado. And they took great care of us. I’m glad I read the script and said yes. But meeting Max was the main thing.
Wes Studi: You know what really did it for me? It was when my manager called up and said, “hey, would you like to do a romantic kind of lead?” I couldn’t speak for about a minute! And then I finally said, “oh hell yes!” And I had never done a role like that before, a romantic kind of story. And I thought, “darn right.” And it was right in the middle of the pandemic. Let’s find out what it’s like to work in a bubble, with a number of people, and stay safe. It had all kinds of challenges. And I appreciate why we had to take those precautions.
Can you tell us more about your connection with the location, and why you decided to set your film there?
MWS: We shot at a place called Miramonte Reservoir in southwest Colorado, outside of the town of Norwood, outside of the town of Telluride. And it’s a place I spent all the summers of my life going, and catching crawdads, and swimming, and looking up at this majestic and solitary mountain called Lone Cone that sits above the the lake. It’s just a very beautiful place. And very quiet. And off the beaten path, as it were. And I always met strange and interesting people there. Because it’s lovely, and it attracts a certain type of character, but it’s remote enough and strange enough that people can sort of wash up by accident, in a sense. And I liked that people must share something, to be in that place together. Which sort of comes into this story. But, you know… at the end of the day, it’s just… it’s a place I like to be. And I count myself lucky to have stumbled into something we might try to call a job that allows me to bring people I respect and admire to a place I like to be, and to share it with them. I love hosting people, and if we can spend any amount of time in a pleasant place, I think we aught to. And of course that ties into the characters and what brings them there… and I thought a great deal about my own memories of the place, and of my own childhood there, imagining what theirs might have been like. In certain ways, based on time, it would have been different. But in many others it would have been the same. And I think that says a lot about the place.
Dale and Wes, how did you prepare for the role?
DD: The fact we were secluded in a COVID safety bubble for this film definitely helped! With a role like this… if I was on a set with, you know, 200 people… there’s no quiet time. And if you’re on a sound stage, same thing. So filming in the outdoors, as we did, was… ideal. It was safer. And, you know, I can relate to isolation and solitude… I tend to go there when I’m depressed or grieving. And so, I just needed to relax and have quiet time, and have Max whisper things in my ear to keep me grounded. And, yeah, the quiet time was wonderful to have. I could go back home and work in my books, look at my script… and we were in a ‘dark zone,’ or whatever they call the zone of the country where you can see the stars. And when Wes arrived, we just hung out at the house and didn’t talk too much about our characters because we wanted it to be spontaneous on set. We’d get to set and talk a little bit with Max. So it was really pretty fluid, and organic, and good.
WS: Well, I think the reason that we didn’t speak a lot about our parts, or do lines, or anything like that… was the fact that the spontaneity of it all is, I think, a huge part of the story itself. Because that’s how this all came about… the two characters, the story of the two characters finally coming together after a long and awkwardly anticipated meeting… you know, I think it really depended on there being not a whole lot of rehearsing done, you know? I think that just really fed into what the final performances became. It’s like… there are times when if I don’t have to read an entire script, I just read my parts, right? I call this The Studi Method. In that, if my character doesn’t have to know what the other characters are doing, and if it doesn’t effect my character in any way… well, it’s better that I don’t know what’s going on, you know? My character doesn’t need to know what’s going on with the other characters. He only needs to know what he is effecting in that particular scene. So that, in a way, is a method that has kind of proven to work well for me, and hopefully will continue to do so.