POV: During the Doc Challenge, filmmakers have five days to make a short documentary film. Describe the process of making 20/Nothing.
Rachel Stevens: Phew! The Doc Challenge was a whirlwind. We met at a coffee shop at 8 AM to receive our assigned theme and genre. From there, it took us two hours to figure out what our film was going to be about and then we hit the ground running. Everything ran on mass amounts of coffee and trusting gut decisions. Oh! Also, this was all filmed during a record-breaking blizzard in Missoula. Everything was crazy, but throughout it all, we knew we had something special.
POV: Had your team worked together before?
Rachel Stevens: We had all worked with each of the other team members in some capacity, but we hadn't all four worked together before.
POV: How did you find Evan Smith and why did you decide to focus on him?
Rachel Stevens: Evan is actually my boyfriend. He was originally going to help with the Doc Challenge, but then we were given the genre "experimental" and thought of this split-screen format for a film about a guy with one eye. I was adamantly against making a film about Evan. I had a hundred other ideas that I thought would make a more interesting film. But the team thought it was amazingly interesting that Evan only has one eye, so I relinquished and we made 20/Nothing. Thank you, team, for not listening to me!
As soon as Evan was our subject, we made him leave the idea table and told him, "Just go about your business as usual. We'll just be filming you now."
POV: What was the biggest challenge?
Rachel Stevens: The snow was up there as far as biggest challenges go. The roads were an absolute mess. Between the four of us, only one of us had a vehicle that could function throughout the insane blizzard. If there was an award for "Team That Pushed the Most Vehicles Out of the Snow," we would've definitely won it.
But more pressing than the snow was the time constraint. I don't think any of us were prepared for the effect such an insane deadline would have on our workflow. We were cutting corners and sacrificing quality for speed, which went against so much of who we are as filmmakers. It taught us a lot while forcing us to remember so much we've already learned.
POV: Did it take any convincing to have Evan tell his story? How did you establish trust with him?
Rachel Stevens: Well, as I said before, Evan and I are an item. He trusts me with everything except cleaning his cast iron skillet. Evan is very open about talking about his fake eye. He will answer all kinds of questions and talk with people at length about his eye. Evan's fake eye is a part of him and he's proud of who he is.
POV: How did you come to the last scene in 20/Nothing? Was the plan always for the film to end with a shot of Evan without his eye?
Rachel Stevens: The theme we were given was "Behind the Curtain," so we knew we were going to have to have Evan take his eye out. People are usually either grossed out or fascinated by this scene; both reactions are a win for the film. I think the last scene in 20/Nothing is what being human is all about. Sometimes really looking at ourselves (or each other) makes us uncomfortable, but there is real beauty in fully embracing the "imperfections" in us.
POV: What suggestions to do you have for future Doc Challenge participants?
Rachel Stevens: Do it! Get a team of people you love together, take off work, stock up on coffee and frozen pizzas, and just do it. Go with your gut on quick decisions and trust your teammates. You got this.
POV: What are you and the rest of the team working on next?
Rachel Stevens: We are currently in post-production on a film about Missoula's first all-abilities playground. It's been an amazing process talking with families in our community who have children with disabilities.