ELGIN PARK - by Danny Yourd

Michael Paul Smith is a recluse who has had a very tough life. His 60 year search to find himself was answered by his creation of a fictional town called Elgin Park. 

BUREAU: When you decided to make this short film, where did you start? 

Yourd: As a filmmaker, I’m always keeping my eyes out for fascinating stories and interesting people. Prior to Elgin Park I’ve always worn the producer's hat but in a more creative capacity. I was just coming off of producing a feature documentary called Almost Holy and just wanted to do something else. Around that time I stumbled upon Michael Paul Smith’s Elgin Park and I was blown away by the illusion and wanted to know more. I emailed him asking if he’d be interested in a documentary on him/his work and within a day I found myself on the phone with him talking about life, his work and other miscellaneous things. Two weeks later myself and John Pope, my cinematographer, found ourselves in Boston at his house for 3 days filming Elgin Park.

Michael Paul Smith - Elgin Park Book

BUREAU: What kind of hurdles do you face as a filmmaker working in short film? 

Yourd: One small hurdle was after our first trip to spend time with Michael Paul Smith, we dug into the edit and realized there were a few things we would love opportunity to discuss a little more with him. So we had to make a one day trip back to get one additional interview with him.

Another hurdle that we realized on set was that our camera, a Red Epic, was not acting the same way as his point and click camera to create the optical illusion because of the depth of field differences. So it took a little brain power to create a similar optical illusion.

Also, this was a passion piece for myself and John, so we had no budget - which means we had to ask for favors. Fortunately, I’m surrounded by incredibly talented friends like Mike LaHood, the editor, and Defacto Sound, who did the mix and sound design. 

Michael Paul Smith - Elgin Park

BUREAU: What projects are you working on next, and how can people who are interested best support or share that work? 

Yourd: I’m in post production on another short documentary tentatively called “The Wizard, Oz”. It’s a portrait of the life of this guy, Oz, and includes everything from sex and polygamy, drugs, hippies, communes, paganism, unicorns, a mermaids, the Ringling Brothers Circus, Bill & Ted, a serial killer, magic and a wizarding school. 

Mike Ambs

I love to film things, tell stories, and read on the subway. I'm pretty sure blue whales are my power animal.