Interview with Filmmaker Emma Keatley (THE FACE BEHIND THE RAT)

THE FACE BEHIND THE RAT played to rave reviews at the Feb. 2022 Documentary Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I had seen Buddy the Rat on TikTok and was immediately captivated by his character. I wanted to know more about it. I wanted to know where the inspiration for this rat character came from and why he does it. After finding out his incredible story, I wanted to share with the world who he was as a person behind this character. That’s why I decided to call the documentary “The Face Behind the Rat”.

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

I had originally shot it in May 2021 as a documentary project for my freshman year production class at NYU called Frame and Sequence. After hearing feedback from my professor and peers, I continued to work on it more. Jonothon had agreed to advertise my documentary on his platforms, so I made a bunch of TikToks and posters for Instagram for him. We were advertising it for a whole month. After this whole 5 month process, I released it on my YouTube channel.

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

Performance Art.

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

I would say the biggest obstacle I faced in completing this film was cutting down the original audio from the interview. Jonothon had a lot to say, which was perfect, but I as the filmmaker had to make the decision of what I thought was most important in telling his story. For the class assignment, I knew I only had 5 minutes to tell his story. I spent countless hours editing out his “um’s” and things of that sort. It was extremely hard to cut it down to 5 minutes, but with time I was able to perfect it to the way I wanted it to be. Also, I didn’t have anyone help me with this film because of Covid. I directed, shot, and edited it all by myself, but I have been used to this
since my early days of filmmaking. I love doing everything. Any aspect of filmmaking excites me. I am always up for a challenge.

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

I was really moved by what everyone had to say, and so was Jonothon. Jonothon had said he never heard any adult say anything meaningful about his character since he always just gets comments from kids on TikTok. This really impacted him.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

From a very young age, I had always had a passion for telling stories. I used to write short stories in these bare books my mom would buy me. One day when I was 8 years old, I clicked on iMovie and that’s where my love for filmmaking began. I made movies, music videos, TV shows, and commercials with my friends. I didn’t have a camera, so I used the FaceTime camera that came with my MacBook Air. I would cast my friends as actors and I would star in my own films.

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

I have always had a love for horror films. Growing up, I watched a lot of Tim Burton films, like Corpse Bride for example. He is my favorite director. I love his unique style.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

I think it’s extremely important for filmmakers to get the chance to collaborate with each other at festivals, whether it is online or in person. Making connections in the film industry is crucial and it’s always great to network with other like minded artists.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

My experience with FilmFreeway has been wonderful. I love how easy it is to use their platform and submit to festivals I would have never heard of otherwise.

10. What is your favorite meal?

I would say my favorite meal is margherita pizza and parmesan truffle fries. If I had to choose a favorite dessert, it would be chocolate lava cake.

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

I have recently discovered my love for documentary filmmaking. I have been working on a feature length documentary about my grandmother, who just turned 96 in January, for a few years now. I interviewed her about all the history she has lived though. I took breaks on and off because of school and different things, but that has been a project I have continued to work on that I will be excited to release soon on my YouTube channel.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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