The Drawing

Brothers navigate their complex relationship.

Directed by Gabriel Long.

Q&A with Filmmaker Gabriel Long

Gabriel Long

Gabriel Long

The actor who plays the young boy is superb. Where did you find him and what is his story?

We sent information about the project to as many agents as possible and Diogo’s agent submitted him.  In the initial audition I wasn’t sure how much he connected with the part, but he had a great quality about him that fit the character very well.  We brought him back to read with two of the actors auditioning for the role of Nathan and he was fantastic.  After that it was a very easy decision to cast him.  I believe he works quite a bit as an actor.  I know he was in a commercial for Go Daddy.

You strike a moving balance of dialogue and visual storytelling. Will you
describe the process of writing the script?

The script went through many many drafts.  I initially wrote it as an exercise for a class, rewrote it once or twice and then put it away.  When I heard about the Cinereach Fellowship I brought it out and rewrote it a few more times before I submitted it, and then during the Fellowship reworked it some more.  The characters, setting, and general arc of the story remained the same but pretty much everything else changed.  A lot of that writing was geared toward making it more subtle, which often meant making it more visual.  When I was writing dialogue it was easy to slip into exposition, and I would find that I had the characters sitting down explaining the story to one another.  When I could translate that dialogue into an image or an action the story came across much more naturally.

Like the best short stories in literature, this film showed tremendous restraint. Describe the editing process. Were there scenes you originally had shot that did not make the final cut?

I did a lot of editing to work out the pacing of scenes, but there were only two significant changes between the script and the film.  I wrote and shot an opening scene of Nathan leaving as Joe gets up out of bed, and I neglected, (despite the good advice of my cinematographer Ben Conley), to shoot any wide establishing shots of the house.  I realized in editing that the opening scene did not properly set the stage for the story, so a few months after we finished shooting I went back to the location with a camera and shot the opening sequence that’s now in the film.  The second change was in the final scene.  I had written and shot the scene with the idea that the climax of the story was the interaction between the father and the two brothers.  The story, of course, is really about the two boys and as I went through multiple cuts of the film I realized that the climax had to be all about the boys, and therefore the scene needed to build to the interaction that takes place after the father leaves the room.  I cut the final scene down significantly, (primarily through tightening the action as opposed to dropping lines), to achieve that.

Looking back, is there anything you would do differently while making this film?

People who like the film often mention its restraint, but an awful lot of people don’t really understand what’s going on. Short films that I really admire, (“The Last Farm” is one of my favorites), are very clear but also subtle.  I’m not sure exactly how I would go about it, but I think “The Drawing” could be more clear without sacrificing its restraint.

What are you working on now/next?

I’m in post-production on two projects, one is a short documentary about a lawyer who represented 6 of the Guantanamo detainees, and the other is a comedy web series about slacker supermarket employees.  I’m also writing a feature script about two long-time friends who return to their hometown and try to recreate their childhood.

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  • Julia Oliveira

    Hi,I’m Diogo’s mother and I’m very thankfull to Gabe for chosing Diogo, he is a very shy kid but very talented, just need a litlle push.
    He did some small participations in some movies, and a go daddy comercial I wish he had more opportunities, but is not easy.
    I’m very proud of him!

  • Stephen McArthur

    Beautifully rendered, superbly cast, and a story that all too many boys and young men are familiar with — abusive fathering that strikes fear in their young hearts. This message can be overdone in movies 90 minutes long. It was delivered in this short with a strength and restraint that works very effectively.