Interview with Filmmaker Chris Cavener (BROCA)

BROCA, 21min., Canada, Comedy
Directed Luis Oliva
BROCA is a psychological dark comedy about an anxiety ridden actor named Vernon. He is haunted by his negative self talk. After an audition, hope appears for the first time in his life and career. Will he keep it together for his callback or will things get out of hand?

Get to know writer/actor Chris Cavener:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

A: To be honest it began with seeing if I can come up with a script in a week, and then, ultimately, it turned into a service to everyone who suffers from any sort of mental health challenges. There was also the thrill of being able to properly and safely shoot a short film in times where our group of artists weren’t getting much, if any, work, and everyone was feeling pretty shitty.

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

A: About two years. The script came easy, and I had some wonderful edits/suggestions from my cast/crew/confidants. We ran into a many bumps in the road in the post-production process (Mostly due to COVID restrictions). My own mental health took a huge hit during this time as well, which obviously slowed the train down a bit, but in the end, we did it!

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

A: Broca’s Area… look it up, it’s fascinating!

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

A: My mental health. After we wrapped, I ended up experiencing what is known as a manic psychosis. It was terrifying, especially to those around me. I sought psychotherapy and a meeting with a psychiatrist as soon as I was shown a red flag from a loved one (I’ve been in and out of treatment for around 11 years). I am completely filled with embarrassment and shame as I write this, but as far as I understand, normalizing these sort of issues are imperative for the greater good, so my ego be damned! I’m in a much better space now, thankfully!

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

A: I was just grateful that people saw it and got it. Upon reflection though, it feels very close to when I see my children’s report card… I hope that makes sense! It’s like seeing your baby succeed. Not only is it validating, but it is also tear jerking!

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

A: I used to watch movies until the VHS tapes broke when I was a kid, then we’d have to get replacements. I always loved the idea of being able to build a world from your own imagination, and in turn, expand the imagination of those who tune in. As an adult, this infatuation with imagination evolved into a passion for telling stories that captivate, are relatable and show others the parts of humanity they may never get to experience in their natural life. I can’t really pinpoint the exact time I realized making films was my thing, but it was definitely younger than my
memory serves!

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

A: Other than the VHS tapes I mentioned earlier (which were pretty much Peter Pan, 3 Ninjas, and Ghostbusters), I think the film that has the most rewatch value to me is American Beauty. I understand it was intended to be a stage play, and I wish I could have seen that! The delusion of the American dream is portrayed wonderfully in this film! Also, I’m a sucker for Allison Janney.

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

A: An in-person even would be amazing!

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

A: This film was submitted by my producing partner, and it seems to work just fine!

10. What is your favorite meal?

A: Nothing like a good Buddha bowl with dragon sauce, but if I’m feeling gluttonous, poutine is probably the go-to.

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

A: Other than being part of a couple of projects being launched this year and next, I’m just auditioning and working at a pub. I would love to make a new film. If anyone out there backs the unorthodox marriage of mental health, comedy, and awareness and would like to help produce the next one, feel free to reach out!


By matthewtoffolo

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

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