Interview with Filmmaker Spence Warren (BAKING IS HARD)

BAKING IS HARD was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the October 2021 COMEDY Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

That’s a bit of a long story. Back in 2015, Pat Russo – our Director of Photography – and I worked together on a no-budget music video in Napa Valley. We had not worked together for well over a decade and I was, for the first time, experiencing the effects of food poisoning. Even still, once our talent arrived on set, we immediately fell into an effortless rhythm! A shorthand for designing shots and solving problems – of which there were plenty – seemed to manifest like magic. Despite the fact that Pat lives in LA and I’m in Chicago, we decided that we need to make more things together. As luck would have it, an actor I met in Chicago who I also really wanted to work with had recently moved to LA. The stars seemed to be aligning perfectly. I reached out to that actor and asked what sort of film she’d want to make so that I could write something for her. Her response – “Comedy!”. I did not then, nor do I now consider myself a person with a talent for comedy, but It is my custom to hold onto lines of dialogue when they pop into my head for later use and in that moment of self doubt, one such line I had dreamed up a few months prior rang out in my head. To wit: “The vagina is the path to the fornix! The fornix is the arch to the cervix. The cervix is the portal to the uterus and the uterus is the cradle of life!”. The actor who provided that initial spark was not available on the shoot day so we had to cas from scratch, but from there on, if you’ll pardon the cliche, everything just kinda fell perfectly into place.

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

From idea to end of first shoot day, it took about a month. With the addition of a pickup day that essentially became a second shoot day, it was about a year altogether.

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

Approachably subversive.

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

We lost a lot of time in the beginning of what was to be our only shoot day. To compensate, the choice we made was to streamline a lot of our shooting plan and the result was that we got the shots necessary to tell the story but with very little style to support the substance. Setting up that very necessary second shoot day was quite challenging; it happened about 8 months after the first day so along with schedules and money we also had two haircuts and a new set of braces to contend with.

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

I don’t think I’ve ever had a more gratifying experience than that of listening to complete strangers from different parts of the world and vastly different social locations connect with the themes of our film. A couple of audience members even shouted out things that we (actors, crew and I) talked about in pre-production and on set! I felt humbled, proud and invigorated!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I found filmmaking via my work with a small non-profit in Chicago called Community TV Network. The people there and the experiences I had as a teenager in the mid 90s gave me purpose.

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

What a fascinating question. I’m not certain but I believe it would have to be either Fear of a Black Hat or Bloodsport.

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

Navigating the festival world without guidance from some sort of mentor would have been very difficult for me without something like FilmFreeway. The ability to find, and research such a wide array of festivals and then make, and keep track of submissions all in one place, with such ease is invaluable.

9. What is your favorite meal?

Breakfast! either pancakes, eggs, bacon and sausage or a well composed omelet. Unmitigated divinity.

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

I sit on the board of a nonprofit, radical multimedia production company called Soft Cage Films and we are in the process of fundraising for a modern day Robin Hood adventure that will go into production next summer. I’m working on a few scripts including a sci-fi space adventure paying homage to A Trip to the Moon and a slice-of-life short about a bounty hunter who dreams of being an artist! I’m also working on a few music videos.

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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