Sorrel Brae’s short film “A Film By Vera Vaughn” played to rave reviews at the August 2016 Horror/Thriller FEEDBACK Film Festival. It was an honor to sit down and chat with him about his film and what’s next for the talented filmmaker.
Matthew Toffolo What motivated you to make this film?
Sorrel Brae: Mostly creative frustration with my work in the commercial industry. I direct TV commercials by day and that has become an increasingly conservative and risk-averse industry. Rarely do I get the chance to stretch myself and try on new hats. So a writer friend, Zeke Farrow, and I started developing a film-within-a-film feature screenplay and I decided to shoot this short to test out the concept and see if we had anything.
MT: From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
SB: Oh man, I’m embarrassed to say but probably a year and a half, off and on. I had to do it between directing gigs so it took me a couple months to write the script and another few months to lock in our lead actress (the incredibly talented Marin Ireland). We shot in my apartment over 3 long nights and then I edited for another four months. I was also fortunate to receive gratis favors from Color Collective and Pure Sound but that also meant we had to wait until their studios were open.
MT: How would you describe your short film in two words!?
SB: ego v. id
MT: What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
SB: The edit was tough. Getting the pacing to feel right while locking in the complex structure in a way that was still accessible was a big challenge. I was fortunate to not have a deadline because it allowed me space to walk away for weeks at a time and return with fresh eyes to find new solutions. We also were almost shut down by my landlord, which sucked.
MT: What were your initial reactions when watching the Toronto audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
SB: I thought, this is so surreal to see total strangers engage with creative choices I made while sitting alone in my apartment a year ago. I was also genuinely impressed with the caliber of cineaste represented. The first comment nailed a theme of the film that no one in any previous festival touched on: the power and danger of the creative process.
MT: How did you come up with the idea for this short film?
SB: Riffing off concepts for a feature film and, maybe more importantly, searching for ways to shoot in my apartment with one actor to keep the production simple and cheap.
MT: What film have you seen the most in your life?
SB: Probably Chinatown by Polanski.
MT: What is next for you? A new film?
SB: I’ve just locked picture on another short called TITAN, with screenwriter Austin Bunn. Similarly, it is inspired by a survival/adventure feature script we’ve developed about a young woman who finds herself stranded at the top of a 300 foot Redwood tree in the Pacific NW. Hopefully you’ll be seeing it very soon!
Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of A FILM BY VERA VAUGHN:
Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Fesival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.