Asleep in My Palm Shot in Oberlin Over Winter Term


Courtesy of Deadline

Filming for Conservatory fifth-year Henry Nelson’s feature film, Asleep in My Palm, wrapped up in Oberlin over Winter Term. The drama, which stars Henry’s father, critically acclaimed actor Tim Blake Nelson, revolves around the story of a man raising his daughter in a storage unit in rural Ohio. Her coming of age is set against the backdrop of a liberal arts college town, and explores the struggles of the college’s relationship with its surrounding rural areas.

“I thought it was a story well worth telling,” Tim said. “It came out of the mind of my son Henry; every scene and every character is his. I think he was struck from when he arrived at Oberlin by the dichotomy between the more depressed surroundings of Northeastern Ohio and the rarified setting of a liberal arts college within that. The movie is really an effort to address, in a sensitive, sometimes funny, and ultimately tragic way, the contrast that he tended to perceive.”

The film, which Tim also produced, was crewed in part by Oberlin students, some for Winter Term credit and some for pay. Henry said the choice to fill minor production roles with students not only brought more hands on deck, but also brought a new sense of eagerness to the crew.

“The College was incredibly supportive, and additionally, we were able to bring in a lot of students to work on the movie, which brought great spirit and ability, but also made a low-budget production all the more supported in terms of camera assistance, wardrobe assistance, PAs, boom operators,” he said. “A lot of the students were able to support the movie — many of them for Winter [Term] credit. That brought incredible value to the crew in terms of manpower.”

Double-degree fifth-year Will Curry worked in the camera department and also collaborated with Henry, his best friend since day one of orientation, on the score. Curry says he learned a lot on the job.

“We all just worked together; it was a small enough crew that I got to do a lot of stuff, and they taught me a lot, so it was great,” Curry said. “Everyone was really welcoming of me, and I felt like the only thing I could do was have a really positive attitude, show up on time, and just work all day. … They described it to me as being military, and it kind of was; it was very regimented. Everything had to be readily available for quick transitions.”

The majority of the students employed on the film were friends of Henry’s, which he said felt like an exciting clashing of his different worlds.

“I brought on as many of my friends as I could,” he said. “It was incredible. I had folks come from New York who I had known since middle school, and some folks I’d known from high school, all meeting people I’d met here, also meeting people I’d met when I crewed on other movies. … It was really stressful, but also really really fulfilling and amazing, and I loved working with a lot of these folks, I love working with my dad.”

The father-son team both expressed enthusiasm about working together, a lifelong dream that was finally fulfilled for both.

“It was amazing and hilarious,” Henry said. “I grew up following him to set, so to work with him was pretty wild. I love sets and I’d go every time I could, and to be there with him, both of us working, was a trip. It was also hilarious because we’d fight in front of the crew sometimes.”

The film is in post-production, with both Nelsons chipping away at it from editing rooms in Oberlin and New York in the hope that the film will be complete by this summer.

“We’re cutting it together, and it’s inching closer and closer to where I want it to be,” Henry said.

Both father and son are thrilled about the experience of working together on their first collaborative feature film. As a father, Tim said he could not be more happy with working with his son.

“Henry just continues to impress me — he just delivered a scene that he put together today that was just breathtakingly conceived,” he said. “It’s so gratifying for me, both as a collaborator and a parent, to see what he’s up to — to experience what he’s up to. … We’ve been wanting to do this since he was 11. Even when he was 11 and we would fantasize about it, I always believed it would happen because he’s got a great visual sense; he’s a wonderful writer.”