Ashes

After a botched assignment, professional assassin Jack Speedman resigns himself to the inevitable arrival of his protégé, undoubtedly sent to finish him off. But Jack has one last lesson for his student.

 

A still from "Ashes"
A still from “Ashes”

A Statement from the Director: 

“For as long as I can remember I have always been fascinated with stories about assassins and noir films. I think they’ve always piqued our curiosity because they deal with death in a way that we aren’t used to seeing. Death and the themes surrounding it has always been a big part of every culture, so as I was preparing to write “Ashes” and especially when I went to direct the film these themes were the forefront of my ideas.

I always wondered what it would be like for a retired assassin to reflect on his life, and find the meaning amidst all of the things he has chosen to do in his life. And at the same time, what it would be like for someone like Sam’s character who has grown up as an assassin, and making her way up through the ranks, and discovering the gravity of her career choice. Luc Besson’s “Leon: The Professional” has always stayed with me as a remarkable piece of filmmaking, but I always wondered what it would be like if Natalie Portman’s character had grown up to be an assassin.

To me, “Ashes” is a beautiful piece about one man realizing the kind of legacy he’s left behind and not really being happy with it. So he uses this opportunity in his final moment to try and steer his own protégé in the right direction. Ultimately the film is about forgiveness. Forgiving one’s self for their own actions, and forgiving another for theirs.” 

-Shawn Montgomery

Making “Ashes”

“Ashes” began as a story from Brandon Fisher, who at the time lived two doors down from writer/director Shawn Montgomery. After hearing the story, Shawn wrote the screenplay and decided that this would be his next short film. He also wanted it to be as legitimate as possible, so he decided that he would only use actors from the Screen Actors Guild (the actor’s union). Upon filing the paperwork he immediately had a casting call through L.A. casting to find who would play the characters. Originally, the role of Sam was written for a male, but during the audition process Shawn decided it would be interesting to let females apply for the role as well. When all was said and done, Bill Campus and Lala Hensley were selected for the roles of Jack and Sam, respectively.

Production took place over two days and was shot at a friend’s cousin’s apartment in Playa Del Rey, CA. The film was originally going to be shot on the Panasonic HVX-200 with a Red Rock film lens adapter, however the adapter malfunctioned, forcing the film to be shot in HD. Once production was finished, the post process was lengthened significantly due to some location sound issues. Most of the dialogue from Bill’s character Jack was unusable, and we had to re-record all of his lines using ADR. Once this process was complete, and music added from electronic music artist Mike “Unleaded Logic” Mertes, “Ashes” was finally ready for the public.