Interview with Filmmaker Isaac Cushman (DAY FLIPPERS)

DAY FLIPPERS, 16min., USA, Dark Comedy
Directed by Isaac Cushman
The production of a home renovation TV series is disrupted by the presence of a malevolent spirit.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Honestly, it was my buddy Alex Royston, who was the Production Designer on the film. I first shared the idea with him and Dylan Samson (Producer) when we were out shooting a fake Mountain Dew ad for a class.

It was an idea that was inspired by films like Grave Encounters (2011) and Ghostwatch (1992), both of which feature the crew of a television program encountering actual paranormal activity. Having most of my experience in comedy writing, I thought taking an HGTV-style show and putting those characters into a similar situation would be ripe for a hybrid of comedy and horror.

It was an idea I proposed as a non-school project because it seemed too “big” to do as an assignment but since we had no other ideas we liked for our upcoming final project, we moved forward with it. I was skeptical at first but Alex championed the idea and rallied the troops. I couldn’t be more grateful for that, I was right that it was going to be difficult but because of Alex’s enthusiasm for the idea, I was given an opportunity to prove to myself that I was capable of more than I thought and we made something that I am really proud of. I now see just how possible even the most insane ideas can be with the right people and a little ingenuity.

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

A little over a year. I’d had the idea kicking around my brain for a bit before sharing it with Alex and Dylan in November 2021 but after that, we were off and running. We started pre-production in January 2022, filmed in April 2022 and while we did have to showcase a cut in June for the class, Day Flippers would still have another 6 months of post-production before we finished in late December 2022.

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

Fun and Spooky!

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

This was a really tough question to answer because we had a ton of difficulties in both pre and post-production but I’d say the biggest obstacle(s) was in post. It’s a really long story but at the end of the day, I have Brendan Parker, Sarah Sweet and especially Ryan Glessner to thank for getting us to the top of that mountain. There were easily 200+ hours spent collectively on the editing/VFX (all done by Ryan), Sound Design and Color Correction. The finish line appeared to keep moving which was frustrating but when we did finally cross it, we wound up with a short film far better than I could have hoped.

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

That really warmed my heart to watch. Making Day Flippers was both one of the greatest joys of my life and also one of the most difficult tasks I have ever faced so to see it not only entertain family and friends but people who have no idea who we are, is extremely validating.

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

While I bounced around other interests as a kid, I think the seed of it was planted when I was about 6-years-old and I saw Jerry Lewis’ The Nutty Professor (1963). I was mesmerized by it and while I had no concept of what I would specifically like to do, I knew I wanted to entertain after seeing that movie.

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

In all honesty, I think it’s a toss-up between Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004) and Scooby-Doo (2002). Eternal Sunshine is a film that I watched 5 times in a month after I first saw it and now I watch it every couple years. I feel like I have a new perspective on it each time. My relationship with Scooby-Doo, however, is not too unlike the relationship between a baby and jangling keys, it’s FAR from high art but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a hell of a time every time I watched it. Which is more often than I care to admit.

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

Honestly, I don’t have any issues at all with how WILDsound is run. In fact, I wish more festivals offered some kind of feedback along with their awards and/or nominations. Be it positive feedback or constructive criticism, could even just be in the form of a small blurb, it all helps.

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

Great. It’s simple to navigate and makes it easier to track the success of your film.

10. What is your favorite meal?

I’m a big fan of chicken in any form with buffalo sauce.

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

I’m working on a couple of projects. I’ve written two short scripts I would love to bring to the screen as well as a feature I am developing. I am also toying with expanding Day Flippers into a feature. I don’t wanna force it but I still love the concept and characters so I’m sure this short is not the end of that. I’m also very fortunate to be working with Emily Baker, a fellow CWU alum and mega-talented writer. Her new film, The First (2022, dir. Emily McDougall), is killing it on the festival circuit right now. We’ve got a few projects in the works and I am very excited for what the future holds all around.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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