Washougal filmmaker plays ‘Waiting Game’

Nathan Coltrane’s dream of watching his own film at Cannes Film Festival in France on hold due to pandemic

Washougal resident Nathan Coltrane II works to film a documentary in Istanbul. (Contributed photo courtesy of Nathan Coltrane II)

Actors Jessica Barr and Samuel Summers star in "Waiting Game," a short film nominated for the 2020 Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner. Washougal resident Nathan Coltrane II served as director of photography. (Contributed photo courtesy of Nathan Coltrane II)

Washougal resident Nathan Coltrane II (right) and Will Cuddy work to film "Waiting Game," a short film, in Portland last fall. Cuddy served as co-director, while Coltrane II was the director of photography. (Contributed photo courtesy of Nathan Coltrane II)

Ever since becoming a filmmaker, Nathan Coltrane Jr. has wanted to attend the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in France.
Now, even though one of his films has been selected for this year’s event, the Washougal resident will have to play “the waiting game” a little while longer.
“Waiting Game,” a short film for which Coltrane served as director of photography, was chosen for the 2020 Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner competition, which was originally scheduled to be held in May in Cannes, France but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coltrane said that he’s heard that the event could switch to a virtual format or be packaged with another in-person festival later this year.
“If it does end up happening as an in-person event, I’d love to go to France to see it up close, but no matter how it plays out, it’s really cool to know that (‘Waiting Game’) was an official selection,” Coltrane said. “(When I found out we were selected), I started shaking. I was trying to type a text message and my thumbs weren’t working right. I sent my friend a message, ‘Is this for real happening?’ It was definitely a surprise (to be selected considering) the sheer number of competitors.”
“Waiting Game” beat out 5,000 other films to take first place in the 48-Hour Film Project’s Portland competition last fall to qualify for Fimapaloooza, held in early March in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, then was picked out of a group of 130 entries for Cannes.
The five-minute film, set in a 1980s-era diner, was shot in one day last fall in Portland, written by Hannah Stoddard, directed by Zach Feiner and Will Cuddly, and stars Jessica Barr and Summer Samuel.
“Mainly it was just an all-around wonderful crew to work with,” Coltrane said. “We had a bigger crew on this one. A lot of times as a director of photography, I might have several different (responsibilities), whereas on this one we had enough crew members that each person had their own role and was able to focus on it. Despite having a bigger crew, everybody worked quickly, and to see how it all came together was really impressive.”
“We went into the weekend with the intention of creating something we’d still want to watch in five years,” Feiner wrote in an Instagram post after the Portland competition. “We knew, at the very least, the weekend would end and we’d have a finished piece to show for it. What we did not know is that we’d have (something like) ‘Waiting Game.’ Of all the expectations we set for ourselves, it was most important we made something of which our team could be proud, but to win the 48-Hour Portland Film Festival… is vaguely absurd. It’s the first narrative piece Will and I have directed under our director-duo title Expert Friends, and it will forever serve as motivation to direct many more.”
Coltrane called “Waiting Game,” which is available to view at expertfriends.co/waiting-game, a “coming-of-age story with a brother and a sister.”
“Basically the sister receives unexpected news, and she’s going to her older brother for advice,” he said. “The story is about how they end up giving each other life advice, and through that initial cataclysmic experience of unexpected news, they end up becoming closer as brother and sister. The writing and the way the actors portray the characters, in my opinion, comes across as really authentic. It’s kind of a universal experience to go through a stressful event and go to a family member or loved one or friend for advice. That in itself is super relatable, and to have actors present it in an authentic way helps to make the story resonate with people.”
Coltrane grew up in Washougal, graduated from Washougal High School in 2004 and studied photography at Eastern Washington University. He’s worked as a full-time photographer and cinematographer for the past seven years, focusing on documentaries and commercials.
“In the last couple of years I’ve done more documentary work, and I’ve fallen in love with that,” he said. “I always loved telling real stories about things that are really going on in the world. I like bringing those stories into the public’s view and showing them something that they might not otherwise get to see.”