Interview with Filmmaker Brian James Crewe (CABECEO)

CABECEO was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the May 2022 Experimental/Dance/Music Festival.

WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO MAKE THIS FILM?

I was taking ballroom dance classes as a fun activity and my instructor Jennifer Berry suggested I participate in the dance school’s annual student show as a way of pushing myself. In considering how to approach a routine I thought it wold be interesting to attempt to tell a story with dance. As she and I were rehearsing that routine I started to think about how I would visualize this story if I were to film it and CABECEO grew from there.

FROM THE IDEA TO THE FINISHED PRODUCT, HOW LONG DID IT TAKE FOR YOU TO MAKE THIS FILM?

Jenn and I performed our routine in December 2018. I spent most of 2019 figuring out how we would make the film. Producer Matt Keil came on with the financing that summer. Rehearsals with dancer/choreographers Jennifer Berry and Claudio Predieri started in October 2019 and that’s also when composer Darren Fung began working on the music. We shot the film in February 2020, three weeks before the COVID travel ban hit. Production crept along in lockdown as we waited for the safe return of in-person film festivals. We finally premiered in April 2022 at the Phoenix Film Festival. So about three and half years from concept to first screening.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR FILM IN TWO WORDS?

Tango movie

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST OBSTACLE YOU FACED IN COMPLETING THIS FILM?

The biggest challenge was finding the balance between story, music, and dance. I had a predetermined idea of what I wanted, but I had to find away to communicate that to the dancers so they could translate that into movement. To do that they needed music. Music before visuals is not how composer Darren Fung and I are used to working. In film music is usually one of the last elements to be finished. The challenge became finding a new method of communication that would work between myself, the dancers, and the composer to achieve the desired result.

WHAT WERE YOUR INITIAL REACTIONS WHEN WATCHING THE AUDIENCE TALKING ABOUT YOUR FILM IN THE FEEDBACK VIDEO?

That was a lot of fun because they got it. The film was always kind of an abstract concept because there was no dialog, no traditional scenes like you would have in a normal film. So to hear in the feedback that the audience understood the story, related to the characters, and appreciated the artistry our team put into the film was very gratifying.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

WHEN DID YOU REALIZE YOU WANTED TO MAKE FILMS?

I have been obsessed with movies since I was about three years old. However, growing up in Minnesota I never really considered it was a possible career option. However, after high school I started working in a video store. While I didn’t particularly enjoy retail, it really reinforced how much I loved movies. So when I was 20 I enrolled in Minneapolis Community and Technical College because they had a film program. After earning an Associate Degree in Film Production there I transferred to the University of Southern California and completed my Bachelor Degree in Film Production. I’ve been living and working in Los Angeles ever since.

WHAT FILM HAVE YOU SEEN THE MOST IN YOUR LIFE?

Probably STAR WARS. It was the second film I saw in a theater. My obsession with the movies started there.

WHAT OTHER ELEMENTS OF THE FESTIVAL EXPERIENCE CAN WE AND OTHER FESTIVALS IMPLEMENT TO SATISFY YOU AND HELP FURTHER YOUR FILMMAKING CAREAR?

My favorite part of the festival experience is watching the film on a big screen with good sound and a live audience. I’m so glad your festival screened a DCP of our film for your audience. It’s not easy for short filmmakers to have that and there is a temptation to put the films on-line. But watching a film a tablet, TV set, or heaven forbid a cell phone is not how any film was meant to be experienced. There’s a transcendent experience when watching a film in a theater with a crowd. It elevates everything. That energy is so wonderful to receive as a filmmaker and it’s a tremendous gift that festivals provide filmmakers. Of course, the networking opportunities a festival provides in-person and on-line are absolutely key, but it all stems from the excitement generated with those in-person screenings.

YOU SUBMITTED TO THE FESTIVAL VIA FILM FREEWAY. HOW HAS YOUR EXPERIENCES BEEN WORKING ON THE FESTIVAL PLATFORM SITE?

Mostly good. It keeps the submission process simple.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEAL?

A Sausage/Pepperoni Pizza and a Cherry Coke.

WHAT IS NEXT FOR YOU? A NEW FILM?

CABEBEO was one of two films we shot in February 2020 at the same location with the same crew. The second film FLAT EARTHER, a nine minute single take film about couple who makes the mistake of discussing conspiracy theories on a date, also just completed post-production and is starting its festival run.

I have a TV pilot, KEYSTONE, about the life of silent film star Mabel Normand I’m shopping around. I am also working with some writers on a feature length sci-fi film about Earth’s first faster than light ship’s expedition to a solar system beyond our own.

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By matthewtoffolo

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

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