Interview with Filmmaker Preston Bowe (FERMATA)

FERMATA, 4min., USA, Thriller
Directed by Preston Bowe
A struggling pianist makes a peculiar discovery.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I was inspired to make Fermata after thinking about my and my friends’ experiences with creating art—these tendencies to doubt ourselves or hold ourselves back in fear of what others might think. As someone who struggles with that sense of creative self-doubt, making the film was really a cathartic experience.

At the same time, I really wanted to make a film that paid homage to the bizarre horror films of the ’70s and ’80s, complete with practical special effects. Movies like The Thing, Possession, and Eraserhead were some inspirations. I tried to draw from how it felt to catch glimpses of horror movies on TV as a young child—the uncanny and dreamlike feeling of seeing the unreal treated as something mundane. Ultimately I tried to marry that horror style with more of a modern, coming-of-age sensibility.

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

About three weeks in total. It was originally an assignment for a film class, so it was definitely a crunch. The first two weeks I spent developing and planning the idea, then the last week I spent shooting, scoring and editing whenever I had spare time.

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

Uncanny and mythic.

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

The biggest obstacle was probably that I had no crew. I directed, shot, edited and scored the film, so juggling all those roles in such a short time was definitely tough. Figuring out the special effects was also a huge challenge, especially for the hatching sequence—I ended up devising a very crude rig to get the egg to crack open. It got pretty messy.

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

It was honestly really heartwarming to hear people’s thoughts on the film. I loved the range of interpretations. I intended for the film to be ambiguous and sort of elusive, so it was great to see that it prompted the sort of questions I hoped it would.

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

Ever since I started watching movies. As soon as I was old enough to use a computer, I started making short videos using Photo Booth on my mom’s old desktop. In high school, I took some film classes and it just grew into a full-fledged passion. Now I’m in my third year studying film in college, and the more I learn, the more I fall in love with filmmaking.

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

Probably Jurassic Park, because I would watch the DVD almost every day as a kid. More recently, I find a lot of odd comfort in putting on Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria remake.

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 would love to have more opportunities to get in touch with other filmmakers and hopefully make some connections in the industry. As a student filmmaker working with no budget, I think any type of promotion is immensely valuable.

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 amazing. I’ve been able to get Fermata into a few festivals already, and it’s been incredible hearing back about awards and reactions to the film.

10. What is your favorite meal?

I love penne alla vodka.

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

I’ve been thinking a lot about branching out into genres outside of supernatural horror, which is definitely what I’m most comfortable in right now. I’ve been tossing around a few ideas, but my goal with whatever I make next is to keep that psychological edge, but maybe lean more into those themes of youth and coming of age. Maybe a romantic drama? Who knows. Whatever I end up doing, I hope to make it bizarre in some way.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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