Interview with Filmmaker Geoffrey Uloth (MOMENT)

MOMENT was the winner of BEST FILM at the July 2020 FANTASY/SCI-FI Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I’m in a place in my career where I want to make films that resonate and connect on an emotional level with audiences. Many of my films are concept-based with a bit of the fantastic in them, and though Moment continues in that vein, its emotional story is its most important element. It was the emotion I felt while thinking about it and writing the script that pushed me to do the work and make it. There are also many personal elements in the film. I have close friends who’ve struggled with addiction, and one ended up on the street before losing his life to alcohol. One of my earliest childhood memories is of receiving a stuffed bunny (which I still have somewhere), and which I think represents an almost universal microcosm of a more innocent age. My mother passed away from cancer when I was 21, so I’m sure there’s also a wish-fulfillment aspect to the mother story in Moment.

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

I wrote the first draft of Moment in early 2013, and after repeated rejections, finally secured arts funding for it in late 2016 and early 2017. We filmed in October and November of 2017, with a few pick-up shots done in the spring of 2018. Post production took over a year to complete because of our limited budget and the fact that we had 50 effects shots (originally we’d planned for 17) and just one very talented VFX artist, Andrew Gene. I also had to work during that time to pay the bills, which dragged post out even longer. The film was finally completed in the spring of 2019. So in all, it took roughly 6 years to make. Building a damn house is faster.

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

Kick ass.

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

Budget. We didn’t have enough money to make things happen quickly or in a way that controlled the stressful variables, like the weather (ie. it can’t rain or snow if time is stopped, so it’s better to shoot that stuff in a studio, which we couldn’t afford). Also, convincing the Canadian and Quebec arts councils that a film featuring superheroes could be a compelling piece of cinematic art took more time and energy than I’d hoped it would. That said, the rewrites I did while looking for funding really brought the script to the next level, so it worked out for the best.

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

I loved it. It’s always great to see positive audience reactions, and I feel that the audience members in the feedback video really got the story and emotion of the film. It was a very rewarding feeling, and I was so proud of my team for having created something that connects like that.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

A friend of mine told me a terrifying true story she had heard about a young woman who had been sexually assaulted by a group of men in a back room at a party. At first the woman didn’t want to believe it was happening and became flustered, because the people attacking her had seemed friendly at first, and before she could fully process it, her attackers had locked the door and it was too late to escape. My friend and I discussed how most of us react similarly to sudden, unexpected aggression. I remarked that things would be different if we could stop time in those moments, before things get out of control, to think about the best course of action. Then we could restart time and take control of the situation with a clear head. Afterwards, I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea. I began imagining how powerful time-stopping could be if also combined with the ability to move around in the world while time is stopped. This brought me to the idea of combining time-stopping with astral projection, and what a very unique and profound combination of superpowers that would be for someone to possess. I grew up reading comics, and most popular superheroes are like gods who do all the saving and get all the glory. But superheroes who can stop time and operate on the astral plane but can’t actually touch anything in the physical world while they do it, would become more like ghostly coaches to the people they are trying to help. In the end, it’s all up to the victim to save themselves from their predicament when time restarts. It’s incredibly frightening for the victim, but potentially empowering. I kept thinking about that young woman at the party, and if only she’d had a couple of superheroes to help her out in that horrible situation. I found the idea very moving and started writing.

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

Wow, so many amazing films, it’s hard to say. Some films I love and cherish, but don’t watch often because they are slow burns or emotionally gruelling, like Das Boot, Alien, Aliens, Raging Bull, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and La vita √® bella, and others I watch snippets of very often, like Goodfellas, The Big Lebowski, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, The Godfather and The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. At one time, The Empire Strikes Back, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles were in there, but I haven’t seen either in a while. Gotta watch them both again soon.

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

So far I’m pretty happy with FilmFreeway. There have been a couple of times that we were selected but didn’t receive an email from them, and so almost missed the festival as a result, but other than that, I have no real complaints.

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

My favourite song for a long time has been Bad, by U2, off their Unforgettable Fire album. Lots of great songs have come and gone over the years, but that one remains. Another is Outro, by M83, which we were fortunate enough to licence for Moment. I’ve listened to that one a lot over the past decade.

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

I have a few TV and film projects on the go right now. Currently I’m in post-production on a new reality adventure TV series called Last Of The Giants for Discovery Canada, about the quest to save the planet’s endangered giant fish, and I’m also in the show, so that’s been interesting. I’m in development on a sci-fi thriller script about cloning, currently called Carbon, I’m writing a trilogy of post-apocalyptic novels, and I’m developing Moment into a TV series exploring intense moments that reveal our humanity. One of my longterm goals has been to direct a feature film, and hopefully Moment will help me get closer to realizing that.

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