NORMAN PINSKI COME HOME played to rave reviews and was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the August 2018 Comedy Festival in Toronto.
1. What motivated you to make this film?
A lot of things, but one of the most prominent things I’m interested in is human nature. As rational beings, we are not always guided by rational thought and sometimes, our behavior is motivated by instinct instead. There are two powerful human instincts at work in Norman Pinski Come Home that I find particularly interesting. One is our ability to repeat mistakes even as we try to avoid them. Sometimes, habitual behavior can escape the detection of the conscious mind. In this case, two parents who resolve to allow their son to determine his own character but find themselves unavoidably imposing their own expectations on him. The second instinct I’m referring to is that of motherhood. The deeply rooted instinct to nurture and to connect with one’s child (whether he looks like Frankenstein’s monster or not). There is a feature version of this story currently in development which explores these themes in more detail.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you
to make this short?
An eternity. I first started by writing a feature length version which we have partially cast and funded. I decided that condensing it into a short version would be a good way to pitch the feature version. So the concept has been around for a while, then I had to write the short version. Then I had to raise the money (which was done through crowd funding: an effort almost as challenging and time-consuming as actually making the movie); then a few months of pre-production, followed by three days of shooting and then eight months of post-production. Everything moves slowly when you’re relying on favors and discounts.
3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?
I don’t like characterizing my own work (that’s for an audience to do). But since you asked, I would hope the audience might find that the words, “funny” & “heartfelt” apply.
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
By far the biggest obstacle was raising the money. But that’s probably true of any large short film production (unless you’re already rich). But unique to the project was the task of finding a suburban house in New York City whose owners would allow us to completely take it over for three whole days and not charge us $10,000. Oh also, preferably one that was occupied by an elderly Jewish couple (so as to minimize the production design expenses). In the end, we would not have been able to make this film at all without the immense generosity of an old friend from college who happened to live in the Ditmas Park area of Brooklyn (not an elderly Jewish friend, so we did have to do some considerable art decorating: kudos to production designer Monica Mayorga).
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking
about your film in the feedback video?
It’s rare that you get this kind of opportunity for remote festivals that you can’t travel to. Ultimately, this is why we make films: to connect with other people. So this is a great feature that WILDsound provides to filmmakers. And fortunately, either WILDsound edited out all the negative comments or generally people seemed to enjoy the film. So that was rewarding.
Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:
6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?
I’ve always been a fan of Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks. Young Frankenstein was one of my favorite movies growing up. It just struck me one day that, in all the many manifestations of this story that exist, both comedic and dramatic, nobody has ever asked the question “who was that individual before he died, was exhumed and reanimated as Frankenstein’s monster?” Wouldn’t his mother recognize him walking around scaring the bejeezus out of people? I thought there was a lot of unexplored potential there which could fit any genre. I chose comedy because that’s just the way my brain works.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Well, that’s hard to answer. I mentioned Young Frankenstein already. That’s definitely high on the list. But now that I have kids, and they are Star Wars fanatics, the original trilogy may have taken the lead. But here are some other great ones: Brazil; After Hours; High Anxiety, any Marx Brothers movie; Saving Private Ryan; La Dolce Vita; The Sacrifice, to name a few.
8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings
of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?
Now that the digital upload servers screen better quality, submitting to film festivals is a cinch. No more packaging and shipping DVDs. And FilmFreeway’s user interface is excellent. I prefer it to Withoutabox. But with Withoutabox, you get the automatic IMDB listing.
9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?
Possibly Brimful of Asha by Cornershop. I like it because it’s got a really nice rhythm, the lyrics are weird and it has some obscure cultural references that a westerner would have to look up to understand.
10. What is next for you? A new film?
Finish raising money for the feature version of Norman Pinski Come Home; write a B-horror script, shoot a couple more short films and finish writing my short story about an odd mail carrier. When I get the time.
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