Interview with Filmmaker Jimmy Del Ponte (STAY)

STAY was the winner of BEST SOUND & MUSIC at the October 2020 Thriller/Suspense Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

– I’ve always struggled with OCD and obsessive thinking. With that often comes paranoia and intrusive thoughts, such as scenarios playing out in my head like “I have this idea for a prank to pull on my sibling! But wait… what if something terrible happens? What if it backfires? What if I end up killing them?” Something like that, more or less. Over the years I learned to cope with this and manage my anxiety a lot better, but those thoughts still exist in some form, and I know they do for many others. So for this film, I wanted to explore that idea alongside trying to tackle making the audience genuinely feel something, and I really wanted to play with audio for that.

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

– This project took me about 2 months of planning and 3 days of shooting. Merely finding available actors to audition was difficult, because alongside my project was another 15 or so films being produced at my school alone. I had to cut some characters out of the script to make up for not having enough people, but wow, I couldn’t be more grateful for the incredible talent I ended up landing. The cast was such a joy to work with. They each brought something personal to their roles and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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

– Well, I personally call it a psychological thriller. Definitely not “crime drama” as it’s been commonly mistaken for. The film doesn’t focus on the crime, but the emotions of living in the immediate aftermath. Having to deal with it psychologically.

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

– Time and scheduling, as it usually is, was the most difficult obstacle. Since many of my peers were in production with their own projects, the crew was slightly different every day. My actors were also busy some days with other projects. I enjoy scheduling, though. Keeps me on my toes and hyper-focused.

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

– I was definitely nervous to see what people had to say, but it was so exciting seeing their interpretations of the film and how it left them feeling. That was the biggest thing for me, seeing if I was able to get something out of my audience!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

– I grew up with my older brother, Joey, and parents in a suburban home. As I stated earlier with my OCD, intrusive thoughts and obsessive thinking controlled a lot of how I acted and reacted to situations. My brother and I fought a lot as kids, and reflecting on that for a lot of my adult life has made me think especially about what could have happened. I love my brother with my entire being, so to think about losing him to something as dumb as fighting, or something even more dumb, like a prank as seemingly innocent as tying his shoelaces together, got me thinking about how fragile life is. And it is. Death is everywhere you look. Life is kind of about being good at not dying!

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

This is confusing for me. I must have watched the original Back to the Future at least 100 times. But I feel like I can say the same about Wes Craven’s Scream. If we’re talking about favorite films, I can’t answer that. I like watching movies that make me feel dread, laugh hysterically or cry, or just make me feel like I’m living in the film’s world.

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

– FilmFreeway really makes what sounds like a daunting task the simplest thing possible. I have never submitted a film to a festival in my life before I did this one. 10/10 for me.

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

– The entire Abbey Road album front to back (counting that as one song for today!). I used to jam to Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight and The End with my dad every weekend as a kid, me on drums and him on either keys or guitar.

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

– For now, I’m gonna stick to making silly TikToks, YouTube videos and songs with my brother. And yes, of course, I’ll be working on my next film!

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