Today for You, Tomorrow for Me is a 7-minute short video about a contemporary ‘Good Samaritan.’ It’s a simple narrative about ordinary people being nice to one another. It’s inspired by a genuine event and is one of the web’s most popular comments of any and all times.
Finally answering the call to produce a film project, Director Chris A. Neal (last seen on DN here) embarked on the journey of development on Today You, Tomorrow Me — a contemporary Charitable narrative that seems especially poignant (and required) for the divided era we’re now living in. Today on DN, Neal describes how Today You, Tomorrow Me evolved from an uplifting online remark to a sun-chasing short film that questions who we should regard our peers.
Everyone I admire in this profession is continuously exhorting me to “create a passion project!” I chose to take that advice seriously while reading Like Siblings by the Duplass brothers. I had approximately $10,000 saved up and chose to go for it.
The narrative was inspired by a 2010 online statement that went viral. I had kept that remark and would return to it on a frequent basis, and I’ve always sought to take it to life. This ‘Good Samaritan’-style story has a lot of depth and beauty to it. It’s ageless, and it asks, “Who is my neighbor?” in both a condemning and uplifting way.
It gives vitality and a genuine desire to care for something because of the personal spark beyond everything else.
This ‘Good Samaritan’-style story has a lot of complexity and beauty to it.
I wanted to go more into the subject of loving thy neighbor while writing. I wanted to reflect on the familial dynamic as well as the men themselves. They are both blue-collar, hardworking men. They are both Lincoln truck drivers. Their demeanor and machismo are also similar. This motif is continued in the soundtrack with the usage of acoustic ‘blue collar’ guitar and the inclusion of a comparable yet distinct user when the Mexican family enters.
I collaborated with Cameron Trejo once I finished writing the narrative (EP). He was fantastic, and he was instrumental in bringing a slew of amazing Arizonans into the mix. We began to finalize the personnel, venues, and props. JP Summers was one of the first DPs I emailed when I initially started reaching out to them. He phoned me 20 minutes after I submitted the email with a therapy recommendation. I was instantly drawn to his attitude and vision for the project, and I was thrilled to have him on board.
Early, casting proved challenging (finding a cohesive family is tough). I first met Elizabeth Selby (the mother), who was incredible. After contacting out to everyone I could think of, I came found Christopher Bustos (the father) on Instagram. His reading was fantastic. Finally, locating a small girl who spoke fluent Spanish was quite difficult. Andrea Carranza (Maria) was ultimately located by a friend’s baby sister. She had no acting talent, yet she was great in her debut picture. Alex House (Mark) and I tried hard to make her feel at ease. We actually did a couple of takes in Which I would scream cut, I would ‘take a break,’ but the crew would stay filming and Andrea and Alex could simply speak and engage.
We filmed for three days at McDowell Park, just north of Phoenix, throughout production. The movie was shot using solely natural daylight on an Alexa Mini and Cooke Anamorphics. We had a sprinting vehicle and shaped with grip gear (bounce, silk, mirror board, neg). The days were framed by the sun. We filmed the first four minutes at the hottest portion of the day, but only ever had around 3 hours every afternoon to capture the family relations. One of the most difficult tasks was following the sun. We were finished for the day when the sun sank behind the hill and couldn’t catch anything other.
It took roughly six months to complete post-production. It was clearly a passion project, so many pitched in and worked in between commercial employment. I ended up composing the soundtrack myself, which was enjoyable but time-consuming.
Overall, this endeavor pushed me further than anything else I’ve done in my life. From concept to completion, it took approximately a year and was mostly identity. And it is always nerve-racking to reveal something you’ve spent so much time, energy, and cash on with the rest of the globe.
I chose to make it public since I am eager to get started on another project. I didn’t want to waste one more year hiding this movie.
So far, the response to the film has been incredible. I showed it out at BBDO’s Regielounge in Germany, and it’s gone viral online. The reaction from non-filmmakers is something I truly enjoy. At times, I get caught up in trying to impress that little independent filmmaking community. But, to be honest, this endeavor has strengthened my desire to produce films for the average individual. Films that explore topics that are basic, human, and compelling. I still have a long way to go, but I believe Today for You, Tomorrow for Me is a good start.
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