For local filmmaker Aiden Hurley, his latest project, “The Station,” is a challenge.
The film, which is a short, is coming in at about 5 minutes long, which presents some fancy storytelling footwork.
“Writing short stories for film is really difficult. When I’ve done it before, it usually ends up being about a 20-minute kind of thing,” the Durango High School senior said. “The key is to have it take place in one time and one scene, basically. You can’t have a whole story structure with different scenes; it has to be one poignant scene that tells the whole story.”
“The Station” is a Western, and it’s the tale of a cowboy and a young boy who are stuck in purgatory and are trying to find their way up to heaven. The cowboy ends up having to stay behind to ensure that the boy gets to heaven because the cowboy knows what he’s done in his life and knows that he deserves to be where he is. The story takes place at a station, on a train.
He said the story comes from screenplay ideas that have been floating around for a while among friends and family, and it’s also based on Dante’s “Purgatorio” and “Inferno.” The short features three local actors: Jason Lythgoe is the cowboy, Topher Hughes plays the boy and Todd Macon is a flashback character.
The film was shot on location in Durango and Silverton, primarily around the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Hurley said without the support of the D&SNG, the story he chose to tell wouldn’t have been possible.
“A lot of the locations were places in Durango and Silverton that were connected to the train. In Durango, I’m using is the Durango train station depot downtown to film inserts and things like that,” Hurley said. “And then the main place at ‘The Station’ is actually the old Silverton station, and so we filmed up there and then we filmed up around Lime Creek as well.”
With primary production and film complete, Hurley said he’s just waiting to get his film back from the processing company and begin his edits.
“I’m shooting on 35mm again. What’s cool about this one is this one will be my first film that is 100% on film because ‘18 Frames’ was partly on digital as well,” he said. “Right now, I’ve sent in the majority of the film that we’ve shot so far and waiting to get it back from Fotokem and get it scanned so that I can start working on the editing process.”
Hurley made his directorial debut when he was 12 and a student at Mountain Middle School. His movie, “18 Frames,” was shown on the big screen in 2017 at Durango Stadium 9 and took home the Audience Award for Best Family Film at the 2018 Durango Independent Film Festival. The main reason “The Station” is being made, Hurley said, is to include in his applications for film school. (He’s looking at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles and The Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, among others.)
Hurley offered advice for up-and-coming filmmakers: Don’t get bogged down with the details of making a movie – if you have a good idea and a story to tell, tell it. And if you need help, don’t be afraid to just ask.
“If you have a story idea, it doesn’t matter what kind of gear you have or what kind of crew you have, you go out and you do it, and if there’s something that you think of, and you’re like, ‘There’s no way that that could happen, I have to think of something else,’ or just not do it, you just have to go for it and ask for it. For example, I got all my film for ‘18 Frames’ just by asking Kodak for it. I took the initiative with that and asked for the film.
“And then for this, with the train, if I had my idea I would be like, ‘that’s a really cool idea, but I can’t do it because I could never get the train to help me out.’ I just had to go and ask and do it. It’s something you hear a lot, but it’s definitely true from what I’ve experienced – just go and do it.”