Dorian Warneck’s mother Petrea is an oboeist, and like many oboeists, she makes her own reeds. Carving tools, lacquers, and cane shavings were a normal sight during his childhood, so Warneck never thought twice about his mom’s craft. It wasn’t until a friend came over to his house and admired all of Petrea’s gadgets and gizmos that Warneck realized his wasn’t a typical upbringing.
He decided to make Petrea’s skill the subject of an aptly titled short film, Reed. Warneck is an editor for Lunch and Recess, a Charleston video production company, so he decided to use his own skills to show off his mother’s, whittling down her whittling into the two-minute documentary. The piece was recently accepted into Columbia’s lauded Indie Grits film festival, where it will screen at Main Street’s Nickelodeon Theatre.
In the short, Petrea performs a piece on her oboe, while Warneck simultaneously shows her reed-making talents. “My mom and I have a super good relationship,” Warneck says. “I have a lot of respect for what she does and she has a lot of respect for what I do, so I think she was super excited about it.”
Warneck wanted to make the lighting dark and dramatic, in an effort to break classical music, and one of its instruments, out of their stuffy stigmas. That meant filming late at night, something he admits his mom might not have been too happy about. Although originally Reed was just going to focus on the reed-making, as the project evolved, Warneck decided to have his mother perform the track for the film as well. They didn’t start production until 9:30 p.m., and then Petrea had to play her piece about 20 times.
Not surprisingly, the actual reed-making process takes much, much longer than what you’ll see in the film. “We shot probably an hour’s worth of reed making, so it was definitely a lot of stuff to cut down,” Warneck says. In fact, one of the key steps in the complicated process is soaking the cane in water for a number of hours before it’s carved. Warneck didn’t want to show that part in his film, so they skipped ahead with a previously prepared product, kind of like a chef would on a cooking show.
“It was a lot of work for her as well as me, but I think she enjoyed it,” Warneck says.
Reed was finished last fall, but Warneck had to rush to submit the film into Indie Grits. Entering the festival was an obvious choice for him, since Warneck grew up in Columbia and Petrea and his father still live there. Lunch and Recess has a history with the festival too, since their short doc King of Instruments was featured last year. But spring is a busy time of year for the company — the City Paper had to squeeze in an interview with Warneck before he headed to Chile for work — and he confesses it’s easy to forget about film festival season. Fortunately, the doc was good enough to not only make it into Indie Grits, but into the Nashville Film Festival as well, which also takes place this weekend.
“It’s awesome to win more regional and national stuff,” Warneck says. “I feel like the way Indie Grits runs their stuff and the way they choose their pieces, even though it’s still pretty small, it has a large-scale mentality, but in a good way. [It’s] just very objective. I have a lot of respect for Indie Grits, and it’s cool to have a piece in it.”
And since it takes place in his hometown, Warneck can easily drive up to Columbia and watch Reed at the Nick with his parents. Unless his mother has an oboe performance that night. In that case, she might miss it.
Visit indiegrits.com to learn more about the festival, which continues through April 21.