Story line
Engaging Factor
Directors rating

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Photographed entirely in a single shot, Hangnail pulls back the skin of parched love. An argument exposes two lovers’ history, and reveals a secret that will either save or break them.


[dropcap size=big]D[/dropcap]irector’s Notes: Hangnail’s structure developed at the same time as its characters. I had originally written Roz and Kenny without a specific film to contain them, while the idea of a one-shot film set entirely within a single room was building separately. When I then paired the characters with the concept, I found they each influenced the growth of the other. The choice to photograph the film entirely in one shot was based on my desire to trap the audience within the scene, as the characters themselves are trapped in their imperfect lives. It was also my hope to subtly personify the camera—it moves restlessly between Kenny at the toilet and Roz in the shower, as if it were a third character, a child watching her parents fight. The camera’s language develops slowly over its journey across the bathroom, revealing the layers of decay in the bathroom as the dialogue reveals the layers of distress between Roz and Kenny. Hangnail was photographed on 35mm film, meaning that the length of the film was shaped by the physical length of the 1000′ film loads (which are the longest available). There were no “cheats”–everything was filmed live in the studio in uninterrupted takes. We shot 7 takes total, and on one take, I called “Cut” with less than 10 seconds of film left in the camera. It was an electrifying way to work, akin to producing a piece of live theatre. Our actors, Dylan and Tasha, particularly enjoyed the process. It allowed them complete continuity in their performances, because they were not required to develop their characters across scenes shot out of sequence. Aware that there could be technical or narrative reasons why the single sustained master shot could not be held for the entire film, we had built a very tight shot list of alternate coverage designed to edit around several “sequences” in the master. Over the course of 4 days my consulting editor, Baun Mah, cut several different versions of the film using this coverage. When editing a film with so few cuts, the shape, length, and taste of every cut becomes all the more important, particularly in a film as steeped in subtext as Hangnail. It was a very pure form of editing, where a few frames could literally shift the whole tone of a sequence. It was taxing, exciting work. With input from our creative consultant, Paul Haggis, we agreed that the single shot cut was the strongest form for the film to take. Baun was the first to point out the irony: he worked harder editing Hangnail than any film he could recall, and it’s a film with no editing! But then, he’s the only one who gets his name in the credits twice. One year to the day (and nearly to the hour) after filming Hangnail, we were in Park City, Utah, for our world premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival. Hangnail went on to screen and win awards on 3 continents. I feel very privileged to have been able to produce and release Hangnail. I do hope the film resonates with you as it continues to with me. Directed By #CavanCampbell

Filmed on

35mm anamorphic (Panasvision XL2)

lighting equipment

20kw tungsten fresnel fixture, 2 x 12kw tungsten fresnel fixture, 3 x 10kw tungsten fresnel fixture, 3 x 5kw tungsten fresnel fixture

Audio equipment

2 boom operators, several wireless lavalier mics hidden on the set


Cavan Campbell
Cavan Campbell
Directors Of Photography





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