An Interview With the Creators of Loose Ends

An Interview With the Creators of Loose Ends

Jess Reed, Editor

Loose Ends is a stunning short film about murder, friendship, and obsession. Created by FTHS’s own Naeem Reuben, Zach LaTerra, and Casey Ford, the movie has almost 1,000 views on YouTube. I sat down with the three of them to talk about their creative process, and what it was like as their film gained more and more popularity. The full interview is below, and you can watch Loose Ends here:


JR: How did this idea start? Was it a school project?
NR: We just wanted to film something. The idea started in April of junior year. We were listening to a song and Casey had the idea of making a movie to the song. We never ended up using the song though, it got revised a lot as we got further and further into it. And then the script got too long where we couldn’t film it so we had to cut it down.


JR: What song were you originally going to use?
CF: It’s called “After Dark”. It was popular on TikTok. The artist has a really weird name, it’s Mr. Kitty. [The song] sounds very dark. The original script was a totally different story. All three of us were in it more, and it was really big, but we cut it down so it was more realistic. The goal is to finish the movie, so.
NR: It was our first real project so we wanted it to be reasonable.


JR: I’m glad to hear it wasn’t based on a true story. So it was truly a passion project?
All: Yeah.


JR: Are you guys in any of the film classes at the school?
CF: We’re in a video editing class.


JR: Did that class help?
NR: We did edit the movie in that class.
CF: That and the school rented us the drones we used for the drone shots in the movie.
ZL: Which we crashed.


JR: You crashed a school-rented drone?
NR: We don’t talk about that.


JR: Oh, I want to talk about that now.
CF: We crashed it into a power line.
ZL: It’s actually a frame after the last shot.
NR: Seconds after the last shot it crashed.


JR: What happened to it?
NR: The damage was from the fall, so.


JR: Did you have to pay back the school?
NR: We don’t know. She knows [we crashed it] but we replaced the blades. We just have to test fly it now.
CF: I mean, we got the shot. The thing was, they were both in the car, just watching it on the camera, and I couldn’t watch where the drone was going, because I had to act, so I was just walking. And then all of a sudden I heard a zap…
ZL: Yeah, we saw sparks. I just let out a sad sigh…


JR: But that was after you got the shot that you needed?
ZL: Yeah, there was just the slow realization that we ruined the drone.


JR: How long did filming and editing take?
NR: The idea was in April, but we executed the filming in July. We started filming in July and finished November 6th and that’s when we started editing. We finished the day of release, which is the 12th of December. But we did the trailer right after we finished editing, so we came out with the trailer November 12th, and then the second trailer came out a week before the full thing was released.


JR: What cameras did you use, not for the drone shots, but just for regular filming? Because that was definitely not an iPhone camera.
NR: We used my camera. It’s a Canon EOS 60D.


JR: You didn’t need to borrow that from the school?
NR: I got it as a gift for my birthday about a year ago.


JR: When did you decide that you wanted to make a trailer and market it instead of just having it be something between the three of you?
CF: We started writing it and we didn’t know if it was gonna be a big thing, because we always come up with these ideas but then we never finish them. Sometimes we’ll finish them, sometimes they’ll get lost because we just wanna move on. But this time we wrote the script, and over the summer we made a dedication to finishing this. And as we were filming it, we had the idea of, “I want to send this out to many people, I want to get this out there,” which is why we made a whole channel for it. We wanted to get it to as many people as possible.
NR: And right before we released the trailer, a week before (when we finished it), we started hyping it up to get people to talk about it. And that really did a big impact.


JR: With the songs that you did use, were there legal rights to deal with?
NR: Oh yeah, we have copyright claims. We’re not monetizing the video, so they can’t take it down.


JR: Aw, now you can’t make money off the video.
NR: We didn’t really plan on it.


JR: Are any of you planning to study film?
ZL: All of us. We’re going to the same college: Brookdale, for two years. It’s a jump-off point.
CF: And then after that… I don’t know. I’m probably gonna look for a place in the city, somewhere even nearby, but I’m gonna keep trying to learn more. And [Loose Ends] looks good on the college applications.


JF: Will you use this for your portfolios for film schools in the future?
ZL: Probably.
CF: We were thinking about sending it to a festival or a competition. I just don’t know what the rights are for music. And it’s challenging because the music that we chose is integral to how it’s supposed to look and feel.


JR: You can’t really dub another song over it.
CF: Yeah.


JR: Do you have anything in the works now that you’re willing to talk about?
CF: Just very vague ideas, but we haven’t started fully planning. This took a really long time and we just got it out, and now…
NR: We had our full focus on it. We weren’t really looking off to other things.


JR: And if you started something now, it might not be done until the time you graduate.
CF: Yeah. And we might want to give it some time before starting something new. A lot of the time that went into the movie could’ve been spent doing other stuff. It’s a big commitment. So we might give it a little bit before starting to film something new.


JR: It’s one thing to film over the summer and another thing to film during the school year.
CF: It would be challenging. Something we did want to utilize at a point was maybe filming in the school after hours. But that won’t be the last thing we put on the channel; we might do smaller, shorter videos. When it comes to the large scale movies, we might start that in another month.


JR: How hard was it to film with each other since you are all friends? Did it ever happen where you would end up just talking or goofing off for a few hours?
All: Yes.
ZL: All the time.
NR: The work efficiency was not good.


JR: You have to work with people you don’t like, I guess. Or start hating each other.
NR: It’s the worst, trying to not get distracted.
CF: Usually I’m the assertive one in that situation, when it comes to the filming part.
NR: When it comes to onset filming, Casey’s the one… he’s the director who’s like, “Guys, stop.”
ZL: And we’re in the woods, like, climbing trees.
CF: I’m like, “We have to do the scene,” and getting agitated.


JR: You’re the diva?
ZL: He is the diva. To Casey: You are the diva.
CF: I’ll get annoyed. And I’m not like that for other things we do.
ZL: It’s a passion project and you want it done. We want it done too, but, you know… goofing off isn’t gonna help.
CF: Also, getting to schedule us to get together is also a challenge. That was the hardest part.
NR: Filming takes the longest because there were weeks where we just didn’t film.
CF: There’s three of us, so if one of us had something to do that day…
NR: And there’s only three of us, and we’re all in the movie. Every scene needs one of us.
CF: Which is why if we do need a bigger movie it would be more of a challenge if we have more people who want to be in it. That would require more scheduling on top of doing what we wanna do and what they wanna do. It’s a balancing act. But it’s… it’s fun.


JR: Whose house did you film at?
ZL: My house. It’s always my house.


JR: How did your parents feel about that?
ZL: My parents are in film. They supply almost all the props. They love the stuff we make.


JR: They don’t get mad at you for swearing in the movie?
All: No, no.
CF: My mom understands it’s an art. And something else – we don’t usually call ourselves actors.
ZL: I’m definitely not an actor. Even at the end, I’m embarrassed. I have to look away.


JR: You seemed good, but also I know nothing about acting.
ZL: Thank you, but I cringe at some of my lines.
CF: Over the years we’ve been doing this, we get more comfortable on camera. We learn what to do and how to sound not rigid or boring.


JR: How long have you been doing this? Is it really years?
ZL: Well, me and him points to Casey have been doing this since middle school.
NR: I started in sophomore year.
ZL: [Naeem] brought us to a new level technologically. We were in the film club in Barkalow [Middle School].


JR: I remember that club!
CF: I don’t think we learned anything from it…
ZL: No we didn’t!
NR: We made a lot of passion projects, though.
ZL: Nothing good.


JR: How many have you made?
ZL: There’s… there’s a channel. With the videos.
CF: Some of them are privated.
ZL: For good reasons.
NR: We really learned our potential when me and Casey made a music video for school. It was in Video II, and we had to make a music video together for that class. Mrs. Herbert loved it and saw the potential in us.
CF: And then we did TSA.


JR: What’s TSA?
NR: It stands for Technology Student Association.
CF: You can make a video and submit it.
NR: There’s a bunch of categories.
CF: We made it to nationals.


JR: You made it to nationals?
NR: We got top five in the state, so we made it to nationals. I don’t know how well we did, we didn’t check.
CF: I think Mrs. Herbert told us what the results were, but I don’t think they were the best, if we don’t remember.
NR: And we didn’t really like that video.


JR: What was the video?
CF: [The prompt was] “A conversation with your future self.” The story is: I’m a terrible friend to you points to Naeem.


JR: Just like Loose Ends, too, but maybe a little more extreme.
CF: Maybe a bit.


JR: How did you decide who was going to have a larger acting part, who was going to be the director, etc.?
ZL: It’s all based on skill. [Naeem] is a fantastic editor, and [Casey] is the best director.
NR: I love editing and being behind the camera, so the reason I don’t have a big role is because I’m behind the camera most of the time.
CF: Zach has a wide array of costumes and props at his house.
ZL: And my car.


JR: So he’s a propmaster.
CF: His house is basically a studio.
NR: He has a green screen in his garage and studio lights.
CF: We left the equipment at his house because it was more convenient.
ZR: It’s still there.
NR: I have, like, $800 worth of equipment at Zach’s house.


JR: Was it just you three the whole time or were there other people who helped out once or twice?
NR: At the very end we credited people who helped out sometimes on set.
ZL: We had a boom mic for some shots, so we got some other people to hold that sometimes.
NR: Let’s say that Zach wasn’t in a shot; he would hold the boom mic, I’d be behind the camera, Casey would be acting.
ZL: There’s not really specific roles. It’s more about what you can do, and if you can do it in the moment.


JR: That must avoid drama on set.
ZL: There’s never drama on set.


JR: You’re not gonna write a tell-all book in ten years? That’s too bad.
CF: There’s not a moment where we’re all screaming at each other like, “that’s not what we should do!”
NR: No.
CF: And sometimes Zach will be filming. We switch a lot.


JR: So no one’s coming on set in a black beret like “this is not my artistic vision”?
ZL: I wish. That would be hilarious.
CF: We’re all pretty understanding. And we listen to each other ideas. If someone thinks something works better, we’ll do that.
NR: If there’s something we can’t agree on, we film both and see which one comes out better.


JR: Was most of the movie scripted or were there any rewrites in that moment that you just went with?
NR: Yes. Even in editing, sometimes there would be shots that we forgot to film, so we would just have to make it work. There are a lot of shots that we didn’t end up using.
CF: Something else – this goes back to the scriptwriting – when we wrote the other script, the original script, it was much longer, and it had more people in it. So I kill [Naeem], but there’s a lot of flashbacks of him and me and our relationship before that. There’s a lot of character development. [Our friend] Michael was supposed to be in it as a detective character, but we just needed to cut it down to three people. The original ending was completely different too.


JR: What was the original ending?
ZL: I survive.
CF: He lives and I kill Michael instead. The reveal of the movie is that I was lying the whole time about sleepwalking.


JR: Why did you rewrite it?
CF: To make it possible to film.
NR: We’d probably still be filming.
CF: I realized in July that if we’re gonna get this out, there’s no way we could do all of it, with the extra characters and scenes. And it was a challenge; to me, it was more important to get this first thing out so that if we wanted to start a larger project more people would engage with it and it would be worth it more.


JR: Did you have a marketing plan, or just post on every story, ever Instagram, etc.?
All: Yes, that.
NR: It was a coincidence that the movie came out exactly a month after the first trailer. That was not intentional.
CF: The marketing was fun to do. And I think when people get into the movie, like when they talk about our characters not as if they’re fictional but like they’re actually real…
ZL: Hearing their theories is really heartwarming.
CF: It’s really fun. It’s really worth it after we finished it. Like “oh, people are really into it.” They have their own ideas about Charlie, and different theories.


JR: What’s the most interesting theory you’ve heard?
ZL: I’ve heard some interesting ones. Like why is Nathan so stupid? And why do I go down with one shot to the shoulder?
CF: One of the theories that I heard was that Charlie is an obsessive character and a compulsive liar. And that was pretty spot on with how he was supposed to be.


JR: So you haven’t heard anything you completely disagree with?
NR: I’m sure we have.
ZL: I’m sure someone’s like, “why isn’t Nathan more perceptive to everything that’s going on?” I don’t know. It’s how the character’s written.
NR: I heard one about the scene where I was dead in the trunk and someone thought I was just sleeping in my bed. That was like… no.
ZL: They thought you were sleeping? With your eyes open?
NR: They thought I was overthinking at night in my bed.
ZL: You were dreaming of being killed.