Interview with Filmmaker Jeremy Charles (Totsu (Redbird))

Totsu (Redbird) was the winner of BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN at the March 2021 Crime/Thriller Festival in March 2021.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

My mission as a filmmaker is to tell stories through the eyes of Native American or Indigenous peoples, which is what I’ve been doing for nearly a decade. The resilience of women, especially highlighting Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW), along with the repeating horrors of history are messages I feel need to be depicted in film.

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

I wrote it in December, we filmed in February before the pandemic, and ended up finishing it in August 2020, so about 7 months.

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

Resilient Women

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

Limited resources were our primary obstacle. We could only afford to shoot 2 days, and the SFX needs took up a big proportion of the budget. Initially I was going to do VFX for the final scene, but it made more sense to do practical SFX.

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

I was so happy that the viewers “got it”. It is very gratifying to know that the message was received.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

Along with representation, a big priority for me is Cherokee language preservation. To do that, we MUST have films and media made in the language. I knew that this film had to incorporate Cherokee language. I conceived this film and got it into production very quickly because the film needed a desolate winter landscape.

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

I have probably watched the Big Lebowski the most repeatedly.

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

Film Freeway is wonderful because it’s a one stop shop with great features that make submitting and communication much easier.

9. What is your favorite meal?

Roast and mashed potatoes

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

Lots of projects in the hopper. I’m directing several documentary shorts this year, but am concentrating on writing for TV and have 2 pitches making the rounds. I am also preparing a feature and another short film for production.

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