Go Inside the Mind of Writer, Director and Editor Elwood Walker
Inspiration and Hard Work at Age 14
“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible,” says Elwood.
Meet Elwood Quincey Walker, an up and coming Director, Writer and Editor. Last year he signed with the production company Adolescent Content. Lydia and I are great friends with his whole family. His dad Tim Walker has been my camera operator on many projects including Need for Speed. Elwood’s mom Mora Walker is a talented producer who makes everything look effortless. This year Elwood is a freshman in high school and he has always been a movie maker. My son Myles and Elwood have been directing and shooting little short films since they were eight years old.
What I really want to showcase is how focus, passion, hard work and determination sets you apart, no matter what your age. I look at Elwood’s generation and I sometimes feel that they don’t seem to have the same passion and work ethic that I had when I was growing up. Then you meet someone like Elwood who smacks me back with that negative thinking. HA HA!!!!
His short film Rocket Boy, which he wrote and directed for Disney Parks, is currently being shown on the Disney Channel and in over 15,000 movie theaters nationwide.
Who is this young man?
Elwood Walker does it all. He is a 14 year old Director, Writer and Editor with a mission. This past year, he had the amazing opportunity to write, pitch and direct his very own short film for Disney Studios. As someone who has always been inspired by all things Disney, this was a dream come true for him. In fact, the Disney movie Nightmare Before Christmas by Writer/ Director Tim Burton inspired him to become a filmmaker at the age of five years old. (This was just about when he and Myles met, on a baseball diamond that neither Elwood nor my son were excited about. They tried baseball and both knew it was not their game).
Shortly after watching the movie, Elwood snuck into his parents’ bedroom, took his dad’s video camera and created a stop motion video using his Lego toys to build sets and characters. He completed it with character dialogue and sound effects. He was hooked. After that, on a weekly basis Elwood has made horror shorts and parodies of television shows, films, music videos and commercials and then posted them to his youtube account.
Elwood’s career took a giant step forward when he signed as a Director with the Los Angeles based production company Adolescent Content. WHAT! Who gets signed at 14 years old to direct commercials? His first assignment with Adolescent Content was to speak at TEDx Hollywood, where he was given three days to write, shoot and edit an original commercial and prepare a speech that would be presented at TEDx. Kind of an interview on steroids process. His speech was to be about how Elwood as a young Director knew how to create content that kids connected with and wanted to watch. He mentioned that perhaps next time, instead of hiring a 40-year-old Director, you might want to have a fresh perspective and hire him instead.
It was a slam dunk!!!!
While at TEDx, he was informed that Disney Studios had contacted Adolescent Content to do a series of short films promoting the Disney Parks and that he should come up with some ideas to present.
Well, enough about me telling you about this amazing young man, let’s hear it from his perspective.
Going inside the mind of Elwood Walker, from his perspective
Before I began writing my short, I already had an idea for the ending. I knew it would be a quote from Walt Disney. I also wanted to include an element of the old 1950’s classic vision of Disneyland to compliment the quote. So after an hour or so of searching, I came across the quote, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” I thought it ironic since here I was doing the unheard of, the impossible, writing a short film for Disney Studios at age 13. I would be one of three Directors hired out of the 42 treatments submitted for the job.
I began to develop the idea of my short mainly from the Disney quote I had discovered. I wanted to make a film that inspired people to do the impossible. And so my short Rocket Boy was created about a boy who, much like myself, is inspired by Disneyland. He is determined to create his own rocket despite what anyone else thinks and in the end, he accomplishes dream.
Once the job was awarded, I began looking at locations and casting. My concept was to have an overall whimsical cartoon feel with the locations. A bright blue square like house was found to fit my vision. A storyboard artist was hired and I phoned him to describe my shots, frame by frame.
As a huge fan of Disney, I took this opportunity to throw in a few hidden Disney elements. The first of the few is the number on the rocket ship itself, A113. Although the numbers may be highly visible, the meaning behind those numbers is so much more. A113 is hidden in almost every Disney Pixar film. The number refers to the classroom number that many of Pixar’s famous animators like John Lasseter took graphic design and character animation classes in at the California Institute of Arts. Another easter egg in the short is the font that the letters are written in, the font from the famous Space Mountain Ride. One of the lesser recognized easter eggs takes place inside the rocket seconds before it takes off. For this shot, I wanted to recreate the iconic shot from 2001: A Space Odyssey. We see our hero in the rocket excitedly waiting for the rocket to take off while all the lights and buttons reflect onto his helmet. It’s very quick, but in the corner of the screen, there are three lights put together to resemble the head of Mickey Mouse.
My Director of Photography for the film was Mark Schwartzbard, a very talented and inspiring DP. He understood my vision and helped bring the project to life. The film was shot on the Alexa using handheld shots to convey the homemade movie making charm in combination with evenly framed tripod and dolly shots to give a cartoony feel to the film. My favorite part of the Disney project was getting to work with a professional film crew. The day of the shoot was hands down the most awesome day of my life and I look forward to my next shoot.
Let me share some of the storyboards I did for the spot, as well as the agency creative boards and concept so you can see how it all came together.
I look at how talented Elwood is and I look at where I was at that same age. I was looking at the next field I had to plow or harvest along with what sport I was going to play and master. Never was I thinking about being a filmmaker. I feel that this is the future and why we created the HurlBlog and Shane’s Inner Circle. It is so important to young, inspiring filmmakers like Elwood. It gives you the playbook, so you can choose to either play by the rules, or understand why you should break them for the story.
So great to see a young man with a solid idea of where he wants his life to go. Unlike a lot of us (I suspect), I doubt he’ll ever look back on this time as say “if I could do it over…”.
So proud of you, Elwood!