Interview with Filmmaker Alex Farias (ANIMAL HEADS)

ANIMAL HEADS was the winner of BEST FANTASY FILM at the June 2020 Fantasy/Sci-Fi Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Alex Farias: I think I am always looking for ways in narrative film to tell a story out of the context of the world we know in order to reach people in a new way. It’s like getting an audience to form new associations. I wanted to make people ask questions rather than force a message.

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

About a year. We did a lot of planning and pre production. I created color palettes for each scene, we designed all the “devices” and Kalani (my production designer) constructed and painted all the masks by hand. In post David (editor) and I worked really hard. I was so specific about how I wanted the color but only knew how to use photoshop. I colored shot by shot in photoshop which then David translated into premiere. It was all a big undertaking!

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

Dark yet pure.
I guess that’s three.

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

I think just learning how to communicate as a director. This was my first film. I was very specific about composition because I knew with the masks there were some elements of expression that were out of my control. It was a beautiful challenge. Working with children is fun and difficult, and they were little troopers with those things on their head. I’d say the shower scene with the mother (actor Taigé Lauren) was really scary for me because I knew I needed it to hit hard for me to feel like I got my point across. It felt good to get what we needed from that.

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

It’s so great to see people being moved by your work. But moreover, what I love is to see people ask questions and really ponder how it affected them. It reminds me of why I am a filmmaker.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I really don’t know how I came up with it. I think often it feels less like I was underwater, found the idea just laying there and came to surface with it. But I do remember I had some friends over at my house one night, one of them being my other production designer, Lela Wulsin. I pitched the idea and everyone started sort of coming alive with ideas about what that kind of world would imply. I could tell it was an idea that would get people thinking. Obviously I hadn’t known the ways in which masks, identity and dystopia would be relevant as it is now in this very specific time in history.

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

Forrest Gump. It used to be on Cable TV all the time.

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

I think it’s solid. It’s nice to have everything streamlined and in one place.

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

Baltimore by Nina Simone, maybe. Though I think I can sing every lyric of every song that was on VH1 in the early 2000s- so if I could actually run the numbers it might be a much more embarrassing answer.

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

I am in development for a documentary I am directing. It’s about artists who have fled a repressive regime. Definitely a change of pace for me but it feels like the correct place to put my creative energy right now.

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