Interview with Filmmakers Kasey Poracky & Robert Mack (SHIFT)

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Robert: I had always had a passion for making movies, but never had the time or opportunity to pursue those interests during my high school years while under an intense training schedule of ballet, academics and extra-curriculars. When I got to Indiana University, I realized that the resources there and the incredible talent that I found myself surrounded by at the Jacobs School of Music Ballet Department would lend itself well to a high-quality project. From there on I began to form partnerships with students and faculty in both those schools.

Kasey: Once I heard Robert’s concept, I knew we’d be able to make something really beautiful that many people could relate to. And, I’ve always deeply admired dancers and dancing, so having the opportunity to capture ballet on film was a dream of mine.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

Kasey: It took us about 15 months to pull this off.

Robert: The first six months was spent developing and pitching the initial idea. In January of 2018, I became a finalist at the Jacobs Innovation Competition, where a Media School Professor, Craig Erpelding, then connected me to Kasey. After spending months developing the idea with her, seeking funding, and putting together the cast and crew, we shot over two days in Fall of 2018 and the completed version was completed by early Spring.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Kasey: Poetic and Graceful (to me at least!)

Robert: Freedom and Inspiration.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Kasey: This being a student production, we had limited resources as far as a pre-production team, and so Robert and I did a lot of work on the front end. Casting, costumes, props, finding a composer and choreographer, etc. In terms of shooting and editing, we went with a multi-camera (5 to be exact) setup for optimal coverage, and so that was definitely a challenge on set and in post.

Robert: Coordinating all the moving parts and working with everybody’s schedules. The ballet department was incredibly supportive throughout, but our heavy schedules left a limited opening in which we could rehearse the dancers and focus on Shift. It was never enough time, but Sasha works brilliantly, the Jacobs dancers pick up and interpret movement with such great ease, and I was in awe of the support and professionalism of the Media School.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Kasey: I was so moved hearing the reactions of the audience members. When you spend so much time on something, to hear people talk about what touched them and what they enjoyed is very rewarding. Not only did the over-arching theme seem to come through, but all the little painstaking details we pored over were also mentioned. Getting to hear those comments has meant a great deal to me and I am very grateful.

Robert: I was in the audience for the feedback sessions at the festival and felt so extremely gratified and grateful for the positive reactions. My thought was, “people get it.” That meant the world to me.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

Robert: Shift very much draws from my experiences of the day-to-day routine of a high-school student losing sight of what makes our endeavors worthwhile in the first place.

Kasey: The main concept, of a student getting swallowed by his responsibilities, was Robert’s idea. We wanted it to feel modern and somewhat abstract, and so the idea to take the story to another place in time was a collaborative decision from myself, Robert, and another of the film’s producers Craig Erpelding.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Robert: It’s hard to say, as I have always been a movie buff. Top Hat with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, as well as Back to the Future come to my mind. As a kid, I loved musicals and would watch old classics like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Happiest Millionaire.

Kasey: Probably Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

Kasey: Film Freeway is wonderful. I love how it makes everything streamlined and accessible. It’s easy to use and makes entering festivals a non-intimidating process.

Robert: It makes submitting films to multiple festivals incredibly easy.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Kasey: I truly have no clue!

Robert: Piano Man by Billy Joel

10. What is next for you? A new film?

Kasey: I am an aspiring Director of Photography, despite that I was the Director for Shift, and so currently I am working as the DP on several short films coming out of The Media School here in Bloomington.

Robert: Lots of new films, some involving dance. Ever since Shift, I have enjoyed working collaboratively with Media school students. One of my latest films, Midnight in the Park, stars ballet students and my incredible Ballet professors, Kyra Nichols, Carla Korbes, and Christian Claessens. I’m also getting my feet wet in screen acting. I’m still in college, so my studies remain of utmost importance, and I’m currently pursuing a second major in History and writing my Honors thesis on Hollywood director John Ford. All this, while I continue to train to be a professional ballet dancer, and to that end I am off this summer to ballet intensives with American Ballet Theatre in New York and Royal Ballet School in London.



By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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