Making a name for himself

Melbourne native Needham releases short film ‘Priorities,’ talks future in industry

Melbourne native Cole Needham wrote, produced, directed and edited the short film ‘Priorities,’ set and filmed in Des Moines. The film was released in late December of 2017, and Needham said the project helped him further hone his moviemaking skills. This photo was taken on the ‘Priorities’ set by Ben Handler

MELBOURNE — Writing, directing, producing and editing films are not new to 19-year-old Cole Needham, but he said his latest short movie, ‘Priorities,’ is a major step in his journey in the industry.

“It’s a short film with about a seven-minute run time; it takes place in Des Moines, we shot it in Des Moines,” the Melbourne native and West Marshall High School graduate said. “It takes place Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, about a father who is dealing with alcohol addiction and is recovering.”

Needham said the film sees the main character make a critical choice.

“He has to make a decision on what his true priorities are: whether being back in a bar is where he wants to be, or with his family,” he said.

While Needham has done short films in the past — he said ‘Priorities’ is the fourth film he’s personally taken part in — this one was done in a more “professional” way.

“On other short films I did, the quality was there but it was still, I would say, amateur,” he said.

“I’m still young, I’m still learning every time I do a new film, but this one I really wanted to do everything by the book.”

The film crew came together when Needham had finished working on the comedy show “Play by Play” in Des Moines.

“I reached out to Kristian Day … he is the assistant director and does some producing,” Needham said, adding Des Moines-based cinematographer Bruce Bales was also brought onto the project. “I wasn’t booked on anything, so I said ‘I need to make something,'”

Working on the set of “Play by Play” gave him some perspective on how to work with talent and crew.

“Being on set with something like that, I saw how everything is done by the book and how the director interacts with the talent,” Needham said. “How the director interacts with the crew and the cinematographer and conveys what they’re looking for.”

He said ‘Priorities’ is a high-quality movie.

“We had everything that was necessary to make a quality short film,” Needham said. “I wanted to make something that was really clean and really polished and really professional that I can take to LA with me and say ‘This is what I can do.'”

Moving to Los Angeles, the country’s second-largest city and a center of filmmaking, is something Needham intends to do in the coming months.

“The lifestyle is going to be a little bit of a culture shock,” he said, comparing the city with his native Melbourne, which has a population of about 830 people. “I’m used to being around a couple hundred people … so I’m going to have to get used to that.”

Needham said he intends to do freelance filmmaking work in the city.

“The reality is, it’s hard to move across the country and be a freelancer,” he said. “I think my motivation, with my career and where things are going with that, will override any negative part of the living aspect.”

Needham said his primary goal is to become a director, adding he knows the path to success will not be easy. He said Iowa has a talented filmmaking scene, and that he will rely on his friends and experiences from the local industry to guide him in the future.

“Everybody wants to be a director, so I’m trying to crew up as much as possible, work on as many projects as possible,” Needham said. “I’m just trying to take everything day by day and project by project to keep growing my knowledge of filmmaking as a whole.”

‘Priorities’ can be viewed at Needham’s Vimeo page, He has also posted the movie to his Facebook page, and said doing a web browser search of the movie and his name is another way to find the film online.


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