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Written and Directed by Jeffery T. Schultz

Drama, technique, and soul:  “Certain Essential Elements” (22min)

by Wes Cain  Wescoast Reviews

I’m always on the look out for great indie material and luckily for me I was in the audience for a screening of Certain Essential Elements. At the end I was taken aback a little by how much i enjoyed this film. Stylistically the straight forward way it was shot added such dramatic tones to an already dramatic story that it was hard not to get sucked in from the beginning narration to the credits.Certain Essential Elements follows the respective relationships of Lisa (Michelle Butler) and Clay (Axel Harney) and their chance encounter. Lisa is a woman living a double life. On one side of the coin she has to deal with the turmoil of an abusive marriage; on the other side she is the mistress of a business man named Don (Alex Safi). Just when things seemed to be looking up Don has an unexpected change of heart. Mean while Clay’s girlfriend, Janna (Lauren Mae Shafer) meets him at a diner to tell him that she is leaving town. As both relationships collapse it comes to light that Clay and Lisa’s lives were bound to intersect.

Having virtually only two sets, the success of Certain Essential Elements rides on the brilliant setup and execution of the larger narrative. There are a couple scenes that only last for a few seconds but they add so much depth to the story, Lisa’s in particular, as they provide some back-story along with Clay’s narration. I was impressed by the subtle cinematography and absolutely beautiful editing, which combined together offered up a dynamic finished product.

It’s Obvious that Michelle Butler doesn’t have much acting experience, however, she handles her character well. There were a few times where i would have liked have seen her put a bit more “umph” into her delivery, but she never fails to express the fact she is a wounded woman. Axel Harney is great as Clay. His performance was excellently measured. Its a good thing his acting is so strong otherwise he would’ve felt totally underutilized aside from basically telling the story. Alex Safi and Lauren Mae Shafer do well in their supporting roles, playing well opposite their respective counterparts.

Certain Essential Elements is a short film worth looking up. The characters are as rich as they can be given the runtime and the story is perfectly accentuated by great camera work. All of these things are predicated by an awesome script thanks to writer & director Jeffery Schultz. There aren’t very many short movies that have the ability to grab my attention from start to finish (and not just because of my staggeringly short attention span) nevertheless, Certain Essential Elements will not disappoint.

Starring:  Axel Harney,  Michelle Butler,  Alex Safi, and  Lauren Mae Shafer.    Produced by Jennifer Atanasovski



WINNER “BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY” 2012 Mitten Movie Project 

WINNER “BEST ACTRESS” Lauren Mae Shafer 2012 Mitten Movie Project

WINNER “AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARD” August Mitten Movie Project

FINALIST 2011 Blue Water Film Festival

BEST ACTRESS LAUREN MAE SHAFER 2011 Blue Water Film Festival

WINNER- DIRECTORS CHOICE AWARD 2011 Detroit Windsor International Film Festival

WINNER- Honorable Mention, 2011 Los Angeles Reel Film Festival


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS LAUREN SHAFER (Nominated) 2011 Detroit Independent Film Festival

BEST ART DIRECTION JENNIFER ATANASOVSKI (Nominated) 2011 Detroit Independent Film Festival

Official Selection Promtheus  Film Festival

Official Selection Naperville Independent  Film Festival

Official Selection New York City International Film Festival

Official Selection Los Angeles Reel Film Festival

Official Selection Ventura Film Festival California

Official Selection Detroit Windsor International Film Festival

Official Selection  Film Festival of Colorado

Official Selection Detroit Independent Film Festival


Certain Essential Elements on


We would like to give an extra big Thank You to the entire cast and crew involved in this project it was the most professional and talented cast and crew we have ever assembled.

Assistant Director-  Michael Harthen
Production Coordinator-  Trish Kraus
Sound Design –  David Fienup
Original Music –  Steve Sholtes
Cinematography & Edit-  Jeffery T. Schultz
Production Design –  Jennifer Atanasovski
Script Editors- Charles F. Cirgenski, Drew Philp, Daniel J. Mahoney
Supporting Cast:
Lisa’s Husband – Daniel J. Mahoney
Don’s Wife- Sheila Mazzoline-Bolda
Waitress- Maria Barone
Casting- Katarina Von Eper

Script Supervisor- Amber Fritz
Production Sound- David FienupSteve Sholtes
Gaffer- Samuel Sage
Camera Operator- Michael Schiappacasse, Chad Dougherty
Key Grip, Dolly Operator- Michael Heckman
Steady Cam Operator- Michael Harthen
Grips- Ramiro Zarate, Scott V. Hall, Kelly Klemmer, Michael Gardner, Chris Coluccelli
Makeup & Hair Artist- Kimi Alani
Set Decorator- Marija Makeska, Therese Tant
Food Stylist Detroit- Paul Bancel
Graphic Designer- Lindsey Sherline

La Vie En Rose Performed by Loretta Lucas, arrangement by Steve Sholtes



  1. Miko Klubz says:

    Great job! Looks amazing

  2. David Fienup says:

    Exceptional crew! Had a great time working with all of you. You all busted your butts, and knocked out a great film.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jeffery T. Schultz, Jeffery T. Schultz. Jeffery T. Schultz said: KNAGEN FILMS is very pleased to announce our latest project "Certain Essential Elements" is an "Official… […]

  4. I had a great time working with the crew on this film. I can’t wait to see it. Thank you for the opportunity and I hope to work with you again.

  5. michellefor says:

    I, of course, thought the film was great and not just because I played the lead! Jeff is an amazing director to work with. His vision and passion was apparent and I believe in this and every project of his! Loved the entire experience – the case, crew, everything, was such an amazing experience for me!

  6. […] Coney Island in Port Huron. INFORMATION on DWIFF Events & Show Times: WATCH: Official Trailer for “Certain Essential Elements” DOWNLOAD: Official Knagen Films Press Release « ASSIGNMENT: PRODUCTION […]

  7. Angeline says:

    Inspiring work, looking forward to more…

  8. kathleen says:

    so beautiful to look at. -feels like an edward hopper painting all the way through (-i love edward hopper )

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