Interview with Filmmaker Niko Gonzalez (DROPPING OUT)

DROPPING OUT was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the September 2021 LA Feedback Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I had been heavily dabbling in surrealism and experimental films around that time, and almost wanted to do a 180 turn. I took the environments into account and wrote a story that I could relate to, but still had enough distance to where I could have an objective view of the bigger picture.

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

The script was finished in December of 2019, and was supposed to shoot in March 2020. The pandemic hit just as we were about to role, and we wound up filming in October 2020. After a break, my editor and I got to work in January of this year, before finally premiering the film in May.

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

Tough Love

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

We were seemingly hit with every obstacle under the sun, as if the universe itself was testing us. The biggest obstacle, however, was shooting all of the last two or three scenes on our final day of production.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I was struck by how people were so open about how much they related to the film, by revealing specifics about their own personal lives. I love when discussions about art become almost a therapy session; putting people in a space where they don’t feel so alone is a wonderful sight to see, and also deeply affirms my belief in the power of good storytelling.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I seriously considered wanting to make films, not just as a hobby but as a serious profession, was when I saw Citizen Kane for the first time. That was during my first college film course, where I immersed myself in films ranging from Vertigo to Singin’ in the Rain to On the Waterfront. Those and more definitely helped to point me to the path I’m currently on.

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

It’s hard to say, but it might be the original Star Wars from 1977. I can’t even remember the first time I saw it, but it feels like a film that’s been ingrained in my system my entire life.

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

I love the variety of options that is at the disposal of the filmmaker. I can submit locally or internationally, which allows more legroom for my film and others to find a firm footing. Some festivals are definitely more prompt or treat their dates posted in a more finite manner, but on the flip side, the communication can feel beautifully intimate from programmer to filmmaker, which maybe would be rarer to find without this type of platform

9. What is your favorite meal?

I like to go for an All-American classic: A hamburger (with ketchup), fries (with ketchup), and water (with no ketchup), with maybe Coca-Cola acting as a now-and-again drink substitute.

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

I am currently working on my first proper feature script, which I aim to be lighter in tone. I am also formulating ideas for a genre story, most likely sci-fi and/or horror, in the vein of Alien and The Terminator.

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