Production Notes

Film :: Script :: Casting :: Pre-produciton :: Cinematography :: Performances :: Edit :: Release

About the Film 

Cam and Kiff are two boisterous college kids in an intense platonic relationship. While Cam is expert at suppressing his emotions, something is eating away at him.

yeah no definitely is about the night when his long-seething emotions finally explode. 

At a party where everyone grows increasingly relaxed and amorous, Cam becomes intoxicated, isolated and angry.  He's unwilling to admit his attraction to Kiff, and unable to release the powerful feelings of grief he's been holding inside (just what he's grieving over we don't discover until the film's end).  Kiff knows that Cam is suffering, but he hopes that just having a good time together might make Cam forget his pain.  The two are accomplices in denial, and their willingness to hide from the truth may kill one of them before the night is through. 

yeah no definitely is a study in self-deception, a theme with particular resonance in the gay community, where too many young people still try desperately to avoid dealing with reality, and grasp at any diversion rather than look in the mirror. 

yeah no definitely is a Speed Films production, written and directed by Dave Snyder.  Jeremiah Joyce and Dave Snyder produce the film, which stars Vincent Piazza and Alan Barnes Netherton.  

About the Script 

Before writing yeah no definitely, Dave Snyder had been producing documentaries and reality TV shows for different networks such as HBO (a short documentary film about children in foster care made with firecracker filmmakers Rory Kennedy and Liz Garbus), Logo (documentaries about the unique perspective gays and lesbians have on TV and film, made with legendary broadcast journalist Linda Ellerbee) and Bravo (everything from documentaries on RuPaul and Whoopi Goldberg and the page-to-screen adaptation process of The Silence of the Lambs to hit reality shows such as Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Project Jay). 

Dave Snyder (writer/director): "While much of my television work had been rewarding, I was longing to tell more personal stories.  Fortunately, my time in TV had given me a great deal of knowledge about producing, directing and editing, and interviews I'd conducted with an array of incredible directors and actors like Quentin Tarantino, Jodie Foster, Mike Nichols, Robert Duvall, Todd Haynes, Robin Williams, John Cameron Mitchell, Forest Whitaker, Milos Forman, Uma Thurman, and John Travolta were a cinematic education all their own.  I felt ready to tackle the medium and was no longer content to just recount the exploits of others." 

yeah no definitely was first written in 2005 as a feature-length script about Cam, a confused young man in his early 20s, his mother Joyce, and the friendship Cam develops with a charismatic guy named Kiff as Joyce is dying of cancer.  The film is about Cam's desperate attempts to avoid dealing with his mother's illness and how his longing for love inspires an unhealthy passion for Kiff. 

Vincent Piazza (actor / Cam): "The disappointment Cam feels in Kiff is a manifestation of his distraught feelings over his mother.  If you use a computer every day, the day it breaks down you're kicking it, cursing it, calling it a piece of shit.  He's leaned on Kiff to get him out of his grief.  But when Kiff's attention dries up is when the shit hits the fan."  

Alan Barnes Netherton (actor / Kiff): "Kiff wants Cam to accept himself and be comfortable in situations so he won't cause a scene.  When you don't accept yourself, you act out, to get negative reactions from people.  Now you have proven that they shun you.  You have made people not accept you." 

Dave Snyder (writer/director): "The script was intensely autobiographical, as most first screenplays are.  But I had enough distance from the events depicted that I could create characters that stood apart from the people who had originally inspired them.  The script was well received, and was optioned by a production company in Hollywood. But that company sputtered and financially I had to resume work in TV, so the movie was put on the shelf. 

By 2006, I had saved up enough money to direct my own short film.  I wrote three very different screenplays, but came back to yeah no definitely for two reasons.  Professionally, it would be a demonstration of my ability to direct actors in both comedic and dramatic situations. Personally, I felt its themes of emotional repression were important for gay and straight audiences alike. 

I think Americans live in a dream world more than people in other cultures.  The U.S. is a country where harsh realities like poverty or aging or death are denied, and we seek to put a positive spin on even the worst situations, since we believe reality can be what we make it.  But there are things we must accept whether we want to or not. 

Cam is emblematic of the American method of dealing with problems of grief (be strong!  ignore it!) and of sexuality (repress it!  pretend you don't feel it!).  Of course, gays are less repressed than ever.  But for many thousands of kids, the process of coming out is still fraught with confronting feelings that aren't supposed to exist in the first place."  

Vincent Piazza (actor / Cam): "Cam is an ordinary young guy who is in extraordinary turmoil. He's sexually confused – he doesn't know where he fits.  Cam's inside a snow globe that's been shaken up and he doesn't know where he's going to land.   

There are certain things you have to live up to at that age – you tend to conform to machismo, and you bottle up what you really feel and let it fester, and that's when you get into real trouble. He's at the point where the kettle's about to squeal."  

While there was no change to Cam's character after the script was converted from a feature-length film to a short, other roles were jettisoned. 

Dave Snyder (writer/director): "It was immediately apparent that it would be best to leave out the character of the mother entirely.  Even though this relationship is vital in the long-form film, I knew we'd never be able to establish Cam, Kiff and Joyce in fifteen minutes or less. 

I also wanted the film to have a clearly defined narrative arc.  The drive to the party (daytime) represents Cam's hope for a new life free of the grief he's been feeling over his mother's death.  The party itself (as day turns to night) sees the shattering of Cam's dream, as Kiff ignores him and he feels increasingly isolated.  The drive from the party (night) is Cam facing the forces of darkness in his life. Cam and Kiff's drive into the night, away from the party, is a sign that the two of them are moving forward with greater honesty than before." 

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Casting the Film

yeah no definitely was cast in June 2006 with the help of Leah Garland, a theatre professor, and casting director Lois Drabkin, who's worked on casting for The Wire, The Manchurian Candidate, and The Stepford Wives. 

Dave Snyder (writer/director): "We got 1,200 head shots and resumes for this – an unpaid film!  Included were several talented up-and-coming actors with significant movie, theater or television credits who came to us via agents and our casting directors.  Jesus, life is rough for an actor.  

As for talent, well, it really stands out.  We auditioned 50 people for the parts of Cam and Kiff, and there were just a handful that made sense. 

One of the young men auditioning was Vincent Piazza, an actor seen regularly on The Sopranos as AJ's dark-haired, club-hopping friend Hernan. He has recently won critical acclaim for his role in Rocket Science, an award-winner at 2007's Sundance Film Festival. 

Vincent Piazza (actor / Cam): "A friend of mine once wrote me a letter and he said, 'I'm sorry for the long letter, I didn't have time to make it short.'  A lot of shorts are just trying to convey an emotion. Or they are just gimmicks - there's no script.   In yeah no definitely there's a really clear arc.  There's a clear journey.  You need to be smart to write a good script for a short film, and this was really smart.  That's why I wanted the part. 

My only trepidation in taking it was with my representation.  There was no pay.  My reps were concerned that this would take me out of the mix for other things. Artistically, there were no issues. But now it's going to Outfest and that's an accolade showing we made the right decision." 

Dave Snyder (writer/director): "Vincent absolutely blew me away from the first audition.  I felt bad for all the other people who had tried out that day – there was no comparison.  It was like the difference between a mediocre classical pianist whose eyes are glued to the score and one who plays brilliantly with his eyes closed. 

Vince has an incredible gift for improvisation.  We did the same scene three times, and every time he added a new twist, a new dimension.  Clearly, I wouldn't need to worry about this guy ever falling flat.  He innately understood how to let the emotions swimming inside Cam exist even when unexpressed verbally.   It takes a natural brilliance to pull this off – and Vincent's got it." 

Vincent Piazza (actor / Cam):  "At the time I was reeling from a relationship that had gone awry. So I had a lot of stuff going on with me.  I have a lot in common with Cam.  I was taught to approach a role like this: you start with what you have most in common with the character and then you work from there.    

I can identify with being an outsider. Growing up in Queens, I was a chubby kid with an eccentric hobby.  I played ice hockey.  No one could identify.  'What is he doing?  He's going where to play what?'  And I went to an all-boys high school.  It didn't afford much of an opportunity to get with the softer sex, so I was awkward and eager around women.  I had a weird understanding of what a relationship with a woman was supposed to be. 

I dropped out of college after a year.  And later I spent time with people from college who I had left behind and there was a tangible disconnect between us.  So what Cam's going through at the party rang true for me.  

When preparing for a part, you sit down and read the script over and over and you say 'why? Why is he behaving this way, why is he going to this party?  Why is this a special night?'

Once you start answering those why's, you work on character, and you need to find metaphors in yourself. 'He's feeling this way about that and that's how felt when I was going through this.' You start drawing on that.  'Who did I feel this way about?  What's a relationship that at some point let me down?' You find ways you behave that are similar."   

Born and bred in Oklahoma, actor Alan Barnes Netherton had appeared in some of New York's most prestigious venues for cutting edge theater, including La Mama and St. Ann's Warehouse and will star in the upcoming feature Nothing Sacred with William Sadler. He and Snyder had been friends for years. 

Dave Snyder (writer/director): "We met at a tag sale I was having outside my apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I was immediately smitten with Alan's Okie accent and totally honest demeanor, and with the way his intellectualism and education were so craftily concealed by his macho exterior.  

I knew Alan was an actor but had never seen him perform.  A week before casting began, I went to see him act in an avant-garde piece and was impressed. So I enlisted him as a "helper actor" – the one doing reads of the secondary character while people auditioned.  

I thought that Alan was clearly the best person to play Kiff, but I thought perhaps my friendship with him might be clouding my judgment. Then I played tapes of the auditions for a few trusted confidantes, and they looked at me and said, 'what are you talking about?  He's the only one for the role!'" 

Alan Barnes Netherton (actor / Kiff): "I never had any doubt that the role was mine – I always knew. I was like, "you're crazy auditioning all these motherfuckers." 

Dave Snyder (writer/director): "Alan was ruthless in the auditions – totally departing from the script with inspired improvisations that left many actors flummoxed.  But with Vincent he met his match - every ball he hit Vince's way came flying right back.  Vincent is a commanding presence but physically, Alan is even more dominating.  He was perfect for Kiff." 

Alan Barnes Netherton (actor / Kiff): "Oscar Wilde said, 'Looking good and dressing well is a necessity. Having a purpose in life is not.'  Kiff shares that mentality.  He is a guy's guy.  He's a good timer but he wants other folks to have a good time too.  If a situation gets bad he wants to diffuse it."   

Vincent Piazza (actor / Cam):  "Kiff's a guy that commands people's attention and understands the social norms and fits into them.  He's a star at it.  For Cam, there's so much rust on his social wheel since the death of his mother – he's looking to Kiff for guidance.  He needs tutelage. And Kiff is the guy to do that." 

Alan Barnes Netherton (actor / Kiff): "In preparing for the part I thought a lot about Dave.  I knew it was his story because he and I were friends.  We'd already had lots of adventures.  I knew it was a part of his life.  I thought, 'Dave's a really good friend and this character has to be a really good friend.' I wanted Kiff to be compassionate. 

I can recognize all Kiff's traits in myself.  So I pulled those traits and magnified them." 

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Pre-Production

Director Dave Snyder found an incredibly gifted director of photography in Chris Teague, whose credits include include Salt Kiss (Sundance selection 2007, NY Film Festival 2006) and Site at Fishkill Creek (Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films 2005). 

Dave Snyder (writer/director): "One of our most difficult decisions was whether to shoot on Super 16mm film or on Hi Definition Video.  The flicker of film gives it a dream-like quality to begin with, and I wanted the look of the movie to reflect Cam's own ambivalences. Nothing is clear to him, so why go for the clarity intrinsic to HD?  I also wanted the backyard scenes to feel sumptuous, and in my opinion HD is just not there yet when it comes to capturing the full palette of color.  So 16mm it was. 

The film is entirely self-financed, and went about 100% over budget (nearing $30K including post production).  All that expense even though everyone worked for extremely little money or no money at all.  Equipment rentals, transportation, food, film stock: it all adds up fast." 

The script called for one main location: a Great Gatsby-like home, large and beautiful, situated by a lake.   

Dave Snyder (writer/director): Finding a house to shoot in was a bitch.  Not many rich people want to let broke moviemakers shoot in their home for free.  And I realized anew that most of my pals have long chosen art over commerce: musicians, writers, DJs, teachers: not a mansion in sight!  Luckily my good friend's brother belongs to a species rare as an albino tiger: investment bankers with hearts of gold.  Alan Schrager and his generous wife Viktoria let us shoot at their house near Tuxedo, NY for nothing."  

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Production: The Cinematography

yeah no definitely was shot in four long days with a fifth day for shooting exterior driving shots

Dave Snyder (writer/director): "Cinematographically, there are a few scenes which stand out in my memory. 

There's a carefully choreographed Steadicam shot of the exterior of the house when Cam and Kiff drive up and walk to the door.  I wanted to announce the presence of this wealthy home in a big way.  It worked beautifully thanks to Chris (the DP) and Kevin Kilcher, our kick-ass steadicam operator. I love how Kay Bailey (the actress playing the hostess) disses Cam so off-handedly and then waves him into the house.  It's like she's beckoning Cam into a night that will change his life. 

Another important scene was Cam's drunken wandering at the party, which is split between shots of him stumbling around and his POV of people laughing and dancing.  Although it is wordless, this is a crucial moment in the film, where Cam detaches from everyone else.  When he emerges from this montage segment, he is a changed man: poisoned by alcohol, in despair, and ready to hurt himself or those around him. 

Chris and I had spent a lot of time planning this scene, but we had maybe 30 minutes to execute it.  We had to shoot so fast that Chris would be setting up one shot while I'd be directing the extras for the next one.  But our careful preparation paid off – it's one of the highlights of the film. 

Lastly, the scene where Cam nearly runs Kiff over was quite complex for a low-budget production like ours.  We storyboarded the scene because it was important to be on the same page not just for cinematography but for safety.  We had a stunt coordinator and it was really helpful for all of us to know exactly what we were hoping to get.  In the dead of night, Alan had to hang on to the car with Vince driving in reverse, so it was a pretty hair-raising scene to film." 

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Production: The Performances

After lengthy conversations with Snyder but just one day of rehearsal, the cast hit set in July '06.

Alan Barnes Netherton (actor / Kiff): "Vincent and I are busy guys, so we couldn't find time to hang out before the shoot. But we took advantage of every occasion to hang out once filming started.  I knew the success of the film relied on my being able to create a relationship with him where we can be pals, and I think he came to the same conclusion independently." 

From the beginning, actors and the director were on the same page when it came to the screenplay – or ignoring it. 

Dave Snyder (writer/director): "The film has tons of improvisation.  I wrote the script, but I wasn't precious about it.  I have a special loathing in my heart for movies with dreadful delivery of lines: someone will say something simple like, "I just don't want to go tonight, you know?" and yet it will sound completely phony.  Perhaps the actor doesn't feel like saying 'you know' in that particular take, but is compelled to do it by someone's absurd idea that the script is sacred." 

Alan Barnes Netherton (actor / Kiff): "Improvisation is essential for an actor who thinks of himself or herself as an artist.  Pressure to do the lines exactly is a killer for creativity. Dave gave birth to the script but he let go of it and let it play with the other kids; it got some scrapes and bruises, but it had a lot more fun that way." 

Much of Alan and Vincent's improv was profane.  

Vincent Piazza (actor / Cam):  "I pledged allegiance to 80% of the script.  Except I did use the word fuck a lot.  You hear that every other word at any college party.  Cursing too much is reserved for people who don't know how else to express themselves.  In yeah no definitely, you're dealing with kids, so it's normal they speak that way." 

Alan Barnes Netherton (actor / Kiff): "My monologue in the car ride to the party is very improvised and I was flattered to see that it made it into the film.  A lot of the improv stuff I thought wouldn't make it, but it was good for the chemistry between Vincent and me.  It put us in the right place." 

Dave Snyder (writer/director): "On occasion, whole scenes were improvised.  For instance, Alan's scene in the lake is his own impromptu creation.  Kiff is trying to seduce Nadia (the girl he's falling for at the party) and it's a wonderful performance – young male desire, proud as a peacock, on display. 

Vince is also full of surprises.  One that leaps to mind is the scene where Cam comes down the stairs in a drunken stupor and asks Kiff for the keys to the car.  Vincent scared the actors out of their seats by stumbling down the stairs with a big thud.  Everyone jumped – a perfect natural reaction and one you couldn't get without the element of surprise. 

But some scenes played out exactly as envisioned, in an almost uncanny way. For example, Kiff is diabetic, and there is a scene where he's about to give himself a shot of insulin, when Cam interrupts and playfully asks whether he can give him the injection.  In the final shot of that scene it was vital that Cam want to say something, but be unable to speak.  Vincent captures this moment precisely – Cam's face expresses a combination of desire and vulnerability that is exactly the expression I had in mind when I wrote the scene. 

Vince and Alan are both straight, but they always understood what was going on between Cam and Kiff." 

Alan Barnes Netherton (actor / Kiff): "There's sexual tension between the boys and I've encountered that in my life with my friends. I've accepted that and didn't let it freak me out.  I understand how it was with Kiff and Cam." 

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The Edit

yeah no definitely was written, planned, cast, rehearsed and filmed at lightning speed – all within a couple of months.  But the final stages of post-production took forever.  In addition to doing a fantastic job cutting the film, editor Paul Snyder pulled out all the stops to get the movie finished. 

Dave Snyder (writer/director): "The hardest part of making the movie, at least psychologically, was post-production.  After the shoot, we needed to get the film transferred to HD, do a color correct, do an audio mix, then master it.  The whole process took months and months – for a low budget film we'd shot in four days!  But when you have no money you have to wait around for people to do you a favor.  But with Paul's help, techie after techie, facility after facility, cut us wonderful deals and were amazingly generous.  I can't thank any of them enough." 

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The Release

The film was written in May 2006, and the final stages of post-production were finished in March 2007. 

Vincent Piazza (actor / Cam):  "Short films have a much longer journey these days – there are many mediums for them now – with festivals and the Internet. Hopefully it gets out there and people identify with it."  

Dave Snyder (writer/director): "I hope the film strikes a chord.  I've already had many people come up to me and say how moved they were by it.  I hope it will remind guys, gay and straight alike, of their own friendships, and hopefully serve as a reminder that the truth must always be faced."

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