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Candle Smoke (1998)

Based on a true story, a young man struggles to understand his student-radical Mum who is still stuck in the ideals of the 1960's. She quits a high-paying job wanting to travel to Vietnam, ... See full summary »


Jin Ishimoto


Elizabeth Gilek


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Susan Anspach ... Angela
Mark Penney Mark Penney ... Red
Steve Kay Steve Kay ... Kyle
Bruce Cronander ... Business Teacher
Heather Lake ... Air Hostess
Matt Jervis Matt Jervis ... Airport Official
Andy Frasheski Andy Frasheski ... Priest
Johnny Wu Johnny Wu ... Waiter
Elizabethe Haegarty Elizabethe Haegarty ... Woman in Restaurant
Paula Roy-Burman Paula Roy-Burman ... Airport Extra
Stephanie Kim Stephanie Kim ... Airport Extra
Sophie Weintraub Sophie Weintraub ... Airport Extra
Steve Sparks Steve Sparks ... Airport Extra
William Sind William Sind ... Santa Clause
Kevin Noel Kevin Noel ... Classroom Student


Based on a true story, a young man struggles to understand his student-radical Mum who is still stuck in the ideals of the 1960's. She quits a high-paying job wanting to travel to Vietnam, while her son is immersed in business studies and being practical about everything. Written by Peter Gray <dp@petergray.org>

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Living with a 1960's student-radical Mum in the 1990's.


Short | Drama







Release Date:

September 1998 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Berkeley, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby SR



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

Comments by the Director of Photography, Peter Gray.
10 February 2002 | by petergraySee all my reviews

This is a touching, perhaps universal story, heightened by the fact that it is based on real characters and actual events. The movie examines an essentially loving mother and son relationship, that is troubled by irreconcilable differences. The generation gap in reverse. The ideals of the 1960's verses the stark realities of the 1990's. The adult behaving like the passionate, yet somewhat irresponsible child. And the child trying to be the voice of wisdom and level-headed reason ...... the responsible one.

My approach to the cinematography was more classical in style. I tried to make the contemporary 'reality' of present day Berkeley in California look as real and normal as possible. In turn, this helped in making a contrast to the scenes showing the more fanciful world of the mother's chosen path in life. There were several scenes set in tropical Vietnam, that needed to be shot in semi-arid California. These scenes needed to look real, but also a little surreal at the same time.

To underline the more classical style of the film, I shot with a geared head throughout the production, rather than using the more organic-feeling of a normal fluid head on the tripod. The lighting style tends towards a more neutral or natural look, in an effort to try and capture the feeling of every-day life. I tried to de-glamorize the inherently glossy look that the medium tends to give its subjects. A case where the cinematography needs to look good, yet not draw attention to itself and therefore risk interfering with the story telling or contemporary mood.

The production budget was modest to say the least, although we were surprising well catered for on the equipment side of things. But like all movies, and especially the lower-budget ones, we needed to get the maximum bang-for-the-buck that was possible under the circumstances. The enthusiasm and dedication of the crew helped to make this a successful production, both on screen and off.

Written by Peter Gray, Director of Photography, while shooting in Pusan, Korea, February, 2002.

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