Interview with Filmmaker Jamie Duneier (OUR FATHER)

OUR FATHER played to rave reviews at the October 2020 ROMANCE Film Festival.

What motivated you to make this film?

It was a very specific moment actually. I remember being on the east side of Los Angeles waiting to go see a friend’s play as part of the IAMA theater company and one of my best friends, who is an accomplished Sundance Lab filmmaker and I have immense respect for, took me aside on the curb, looked me in the eyes and as if it was some kind of “intervention,” he said… “it’s time for you to make a short film.” He went on, essentially saying, “It’s time to not make excuses and just jump in. It’s scary because making a film is messy. You have to put yourself out there and bring people together and make something happen with no promise of it all working out in the end, but life is too short and no one is going to give you the chance to direct until you give yourself the chance to direct. Now is the moment so just know you can handle it and that you’ll do great.” That was the kick in the pants I needed. And it was messy. But also super organic because I chose the route of not resisting the film having a life of its own. But working with the flow of what it was “wanting” to be. I think, being in my thirties, I had a little bit more patience in the process of making the film than I would have had in my twenties.

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

Three years about. After my conversation with my friend outside the theater, I went home and wrote a first draft of the script, more or less. I knew instinctively that I wanted the short to be a pivotal scene from a larger story I could go on to direct as a feature one day. But I lost an actress for the role of Darlene early on in the process and when that happened, I “pressed pause.” I wanted it to become clear to me who else would be good for the role. It was too important to rush with casting in a film like this. One where I was looking to showcase directing the actor, and character development. I also wanted it to be someone I already knew and had a shorthand with. And then I went to see a holiday-themed play about 6 months later, written and directed by Leslye Headland. And Mel Stephens, someone I had already known for over a decade, was part of the ensemble cast and her performance was just riveting. A revelation. When she said yes, I knew the short was back on. I reached out to Mark Wolper. He was still in to produce. And thank god because I never could have done this without him. And from there, we were off to the races again. We were locked in with Tim Peper and crew about 6 months from when Mel signed on. And then Mel and Tim and I rehearsed once a week, for about 6 months. Once we shot the film, it took another 7 months to edit the film and complete it for festival submissions. Let’s just say, I didn’t rush the process, but, looking back, I am so glad we shot it when we did and no later. Phew!

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

(1) Sad-funny. (2) Honest. Does that count as two words? I’ve never been the best of the rule followers.

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

The weather! Actually if you do a search in Google for “Jamie Duneier” and “Los Angeles Times” you’ll see an article come up that I was interviewed for… while stranded on the PCH with our crew during the biggest storm of the season! We almost canceled the shoot but instead, at the last second, I decided to shoot through it. We had to change quickly between shooting out on the rocks and shooting in the car based on when the rain was coming down and when it wasn’t. We also had to add a third day of shooting a week later just to finish what we didn’t get. We shot the third day in Westwood Rec Park on the basketball court, after getting permission from the Director of the park who happened to be an acquaintance of mine, and we recreated the environment of the set to match what we shot up at Mugu Rock at the Ventura County line. I don’t want to give away too much of the magic, but we had the best crew. The best spirits, smiling even while shooting in the downpour, and clearing their schedules of an unexpected day of reshoots we managed to pull off right before my actor had to shave his beard for a big audition. This is what I mean, by the way, of having to roll with the punches. If the film “wants” to be made, the metaphorical “Matrix spoon” will bend to help you see it through to the end. As a matter of speaking. My gratitude is unending that we got the final product we did. In no small part to the free sound mix/edit, ADR and sound design we got from my producer’s friends at Smart Post Sound.

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

Honestly, joy filled my heart. I would say I felt heard, but the truth is I felt “felt.” It was amazing to see that the mood and tone and story of the film resonated with the audience. It was clear they really got it and appreciated all that went into attempting to deliver a nuanced yet moving experience. I will be smiling for a long time thanks to that love-filled video. Thank you.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

It was inspired by personal experience but updated the story from the 90s to present day in a way that would allow it to hopefully live “outside of time.” I also felt like changing the characters and the era would allow me some personal separation from the real story. The details of the real life story are somewhat private and I’d rather not get too much into to protect the people it involves.

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

It’s a tie between Mrs. Doubtfire, Jurassic Park and Devil Wears Prada.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

Efficient!

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James.”

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

Right now my screenwriting career takes up most of my time. I am currently developing a musical comedy feature film for director Oran Zegman and a pitch for a tv show adaptation of a new novel with Josephson Entertainment attached to produce. I am also writing a new original pilot on spec, and another feature film with a producer with a deal at Netflix. I do have the story for the feature film of OUR FATHER in my head, and hope to direct the full length movie one day. I would also love to have the chance to make another short film once we’re on the other side of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Interview with Filmmaker Haddon Kime (LAG: A ZOOMSICAL COMEDY)

LAG: A ZOOMSICAL COMEDY played to rave reviews at the October 2020 Dance & Music Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

In March 2020 our lives began to lag. We, as musical theatre makers, lost our live audience. More than ever before, we Zoomed, encountering friends and colleagues from a safe social distance. It didn’t take long to realize that the potential was still here to make art, so we did.

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

5 weeks.

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

Zoomsical Comedy

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

The audio lag of the Zoom connection.

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

The feeling that you’re not alone in the universe tinkering on your art and the deep appreciation of the people who were giving feedback.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

The Artistic Director of the theatre company I work at asked me to come up with an idea for a musical comedy set during COVID. The idea that it should be a meditation and self help support group that has recently been pushed onto Zoom from an in person class, came to me, pretty fully formed about 30 seconds later.

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

The Big Lebowski

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

It makes it much easier to know what possibilities are out there. Like a Grand Central Station for indie films.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

My first favorite song when I was a kid was “The Rainbow Connection” so it’s probably the one with the most listens at this point.

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

A new zoomsical and a few new film scores in the works. Also, a rewrite and update to my Star Wars stage musical “Wicket”

Interview with Filmmaker Will Meadows (STAY INSIDE)

STAY INSIDE played to rave reviews at the October 2020 Dance & Music Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

During the initial shutdown, I was scanning social media (as most of us were doing) and came across a couple parodies which inspired me by the positive energy on display during those scary days.

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

From idea to uploading to social media took about 10 weeks. I was working from home full time as well as overseeing my boys online schooling. My wife is a health care worker and there were days where I was solo at home to manage the household and my job leaving little time to play with my idea. 🙂

If I was free of the other obligations, I have no doubt I would have completed the project in three weeks. Instead, I carved an hour here and there to work on the song and shoot the various video elements.

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

Haha …Stay Inside!

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

My biggest obstacle was time management. That is, finding time apart from my other responsibilities to focus on the art.

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

I was proud of my efforts when watching the audience talking about my film. There were a few 12am – 4am time slots used to complete that project so I would say the effort paid off. I was also happy that one person recognized the fact the original song “Stand by Me” is the complete reverse to the parody message.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

As I live in an area with close access to the great outdoors, I was out hiking with my family and the “Stand By Me” song idea popped into my head and I started thinking how the phrase “stay inside” could be substituted in for the chorus (at that time, the general message from everywhere was “stay inside”). I would also say that from the moment I witnessed other parodies popping up on social media, my brain was actively considering ways I could contribute positively in a similar manner.

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

Band of Brothers …To pay tribute to and honour those who served, this is my annual Nov. 11 film (series) to watch.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I like FilmFreeway as a vehicle to gain access to a multitude of festival options for submission purposes. However, being new to this aspect of the entertainment industry, the plethora of options is also overwhelming.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

I have no idea what song I have listened to the most. Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” comes to mind only because a number of singers I enjoy have covered that song (Jeff Buckley, Eva Cassidy, Norah Jones, Pentatonix, K. D. Lang, and Rufus Wainwright to name a few).

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

I am working on a new song and will be looking to create a music video to go with it.

Interview with Filmmaker Christaan Felber (FROM HEAVEN IS CALI)

FROM HEAVEN IS CALI was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the October 2020 Drama New York Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I’ve always wanted to make a film, but it was always very intimidating to me. It was tricky finding subject matter that was inspiring, where I could actively see the imagery playing in my head. When this subject presented itself, however, I realized it was the perfect opportunity to dive headfirst into making a film.

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

If it wasn’t for Covid it would have taken just under a year. We were about a week out from it being done, but because of the lockdown, it took another 6 months.

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

Soulful and passionate.

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

Besides the obvious logistical problems we faced during the lockdown, the most difficult part was translating and editing all of the interviews. We had to hire a translator who was well-versed in not only Spanish but in the local dialect and then assembled pieces of the interviews to create a cohesive narrative. It made the entire editing process so much trickier!

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

I honestly get really squeamish listening to people talk about me or my work…I don’t know why! haha. Once I got over it tho, it was nice listening to all of the great reviews people gave the film. I’m so glad that a festival like this exists because it can be difficult finding people who don’t have a horse in the race, so to speak, and are willing to give you honest feedback. It was very helpful!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

I first found out about the Colombian salsa scene through my girlfriend Jen, who also produced the film. We traveled to Cali to see her family and I often like to shoot personal projects while traveling, so I did a bit of research and found out that Cali is known as “the world capital of salsa,” which I never knew. The salsa scene in Colombia, specifically Cali, is everywhere: from the nightclubs to the shows, to the music collectors and DJs to the dancers, salsa dancing is more than just an art-form or musical style, it’s a way of life. I decided it would make a good photo essay, which I shot and published and then realized that the energy, athletics, and music translated really well into film, so I decided to make it into a short documentary.

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

I think it’s a tie between “Cool Hand Luke” and “True Romance.”

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are your feelings
of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

FilmFreeway takes the task of applying for festivals – which can be very daunting – and streamlines it. They have a really easy-to-use interface that makes the entire process so simple.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

“Mr. Face” by Ty Segall

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

Yes, I have a film idea that I just started and am really excited to pursue! This one is definitely going to be shot locally and in English.

Interview with Filmmaker Dimitrios Karas (IN MEMORIAM)

IN MEMORIAM was the winner of BEST FILM at the New York Drama October 2020 Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I have always been fascinated by works such as George Orwell’s 1984 and Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. Themes such as the power of information and the willingness of those in positions of power to manipulate people’s identity and perception of reality have deeply resonated with me. The basic premise of “In Memoriam”, the possibility that someone in the not-so-far future might have the ability to directly manipulate our thoughts and memories, is terrifying to me.

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

All things considered, not too long! The script was written in three days, and we went into pre-production almost immediately. Fortunately, we had a fantastic team of people who I have collaborated with several times before, so the process went very smoothly and we were able to complete principal photography within one month. Editing and post-production took one more month, so in total it took approximately two months to complete the short.

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

Dystopian and cautionary!

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

The biggest obstacle was probably the cold! We shot the film in an underground garage in the middle of January with a small, malfunctioning radiator as our only source of heating. Most of us caught a cold afterwards. Fortunately, the film was shot in the pre-COVID19 era, so getting ill wasn’t as scary as it is these days. Also, we only had two days of shooting, since it was hard to find days where everyone was available due to scheduling conflicts.

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

I was pretty nervous and maybe a little scared before watching the video. Fortunately, these feelings dissipated quickly, and I was ecstatic to hear all the praise about all aspects of the film, the acting, the screenplay, the music, the lightning etc. It’s a special feeling for a filmmaker to hear that their film has resonated with the audience, and that everyone’s hard work and determination eventually paid off.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

This was an idea that has been floating in my mind for a pretty long time. I recall watching the torture scene in the James Bond film Casino Royale, and thinking that while it made me rather squeamish on a visceral level, it is possible that there are forms of psychological torture that can be even more terrifying than this, if they directly target the very essence of the victim’s personal identity.

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

This might seem a little strange, but I think that the film I have seen the most times in my life is Disney’s Dumbo! I loved the movie ever since I was little, and I have watched it more times than I can remember – even though the pink elephants on parade scene terrified me every time! Also, the film is about Dumbo losing his mother, the person closest to him, as well as finding his own identity, which are themes that may have actually influenced “In Memoriam”!

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

It is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of festivals that a filmmaker can choose to submit their films, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a fantastic tool for filmmakers that streamlines the submission process. In any case, it is very important to sift through the selection of festivals to find those that are more appropriate for your film. There are festivals for pretty much every genre – horror, sci-fi, romance, LGBT, social activism, and much more!

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Probably “Listen to your Heart” by Roxette. It has been a favorite of mine for many years, and I find myself listening to it on several different occasions.

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

I have completed my screenplay for a feature-length historical thriller that takes place during a dark time of Greek history, namely the military dictatorship in Greece that lasted from 1967 to 1974. It would be a great opportunity to get audiences all over the world to know about the political climate and the lives of everyday people during that time. I am currently in the process of seeking funding for the film, and hoping for the best!

Interview with Filmmaker Katerina Giannakopoulou (PANDEMIA)

PANDEMIA was the winner of BEST PERFOMANCES at the October 2020 Dance & Music Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

First of all, I want to thank the Experimental Dance Festival and the WILDsound Festival for all the support and promotion you do for us.

Being able to have my movie shown and be a part of this amazing event at the WILDsound Festival was an unforgettable experience, especially during this pandemic which, the title of my film gives away somewhat was the motivation for this film. I just never expected it to come this far!

I wanted to send a message to the world through my interdisciplinary filmmaking about a perspective on the pandemic.

Pandemia was my first solo project as dancer, actor and director and producer.

With all performances and art projects suddenly stopped, and the current issue of the virus and all the news around it, especially humanity’s long standing very destructive relationship with nature I was inspired to personify Mother Nature in a kind of story of revenge to tell her side of COVID19 and the pain and struggle she’s been suffering since the beginning of humanity.

Castora Herz had created a piece for something I previously had sketched in my mind but didn’t use. Somehow it turned out to be just perfect for my inspiration for PANDEMIA. Castora’s music plus my inspiration to make a movie about the pandemic just flashed in my brain and it all came together, music, acting, dance choreography, location…everything just all at once became so clear. Having lost all other avenues of performing live, I thought why not take the chance to produce my own film now? So, I did.

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

It happened incredibly quickly as I already had the music and a very short time frame in which to complete the film. From concept to final cut it took 4 weeks. After that I passed it on to Marc Fragstein to create the sound design which really added a powerful depth and dimension by intermixing natural and unnatural sounds to further draw out the story and highlight the dance choreography. I think it was the colour grading which actually took the most time because I had to work very closely with Lukas Herbrand and Julian Prause to realize a very unconventional colour grading of the film meant to illustrate Mother Nature’s struggle between the two worlds – the one before, and the one after the pandemic until she decided how to interpret humanity’s role in this tragedy and how to react.

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

Mother Nature’s revenge. That’s 3 words, but I need two to tell you who is taking her revenge – Mother Nature.

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

In a word – shortages. I had no funding nor budget really. Any very welcome assistance was unavailable due to COVID19 – for example make-up-artists, hair stylists, more sound and perhaps camera men because we had to socially distance. I only had Lukas Herbrand (D.O.P) and Julien Prause (D.O.P.) physically present to help me, and the three of us had to carry a Red Raven 1 kilometre through the forest after a 3 hour drive to get to our location. The time pressure also weighed very heavily on me as we only could do it in one day and then we only had 6 hrs. I was full of adrenaline to dance and act such a stressed out character herself and then I had to direct myself as well as keep touching up my own hair and make-up, and also direct Lukas and Julien. I directed myself to convert my stress to the strength and power that I gave 100% to my character, but with Lukas and Julien who were being eaten alive by mosquitos too, I had to turn 180 degrees and completely leave Mother Nature behind, and be the even-tempered, positive, calm, kind director and then turn right around again into embodying this persecuted, confused, angry literal force of nature…and back and forth like this jumping, running, dancing hard and fast, and then soft, kind and positive for our tiny team for 6 hours. I took me a week to recover!

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

I felt extremely overwhelmed. To watch your film during the event with all the other amazing directors dancers and art films like Circadian Cycle from The Australian Dance Theatre and alongside directors like Garry Stewart who I admire so much is an amazing feeling. But winning the audience award for the best performance and receiving so, so many wonderful messages in the time of COVID from around the world, is a feeling that can’t be described with words. The quality of the feedback provided by the audience members with such attention to detail was something that I never experienced before and really didn’t expect from an online event. As a performer, you depend on audience feedback so much. COVID19 took that all away so suddenly and to get such generous, supportive and positive feedback in these times of isolation was something I never ever could have imagined. So thanks to the audience for taking the time to view the festival, comment so beautifully, and thank you to the festival for creating this platform!!!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:
https://youtu.be/r7BNL4ULOTM

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

In truth it was many influences and desires at once that caught fire with the spark of these dark times, oddly. I have always wanted to create something interdisciplinary in the medium of film. Having no audience nor opportunity to put on any kind of show or performance opened up an empty space into which this project could be born. I already had Castora Hertz’s music, I had become fascinated with Marc Fragstein’s work and the news around the world about COVID sparked this vision for which I already had most of the elements without planning to. It was so obvious to me that this pandemic is closely tied to how we have chosen to exist on the earth and treat mother nature, but she has a good side and a bad side. She provides us with everything we need for beautiful healthy lives, but she can also take it all away when she is angry with storms, natural disasters and disease. So, it just made sense that she was going to be the protagonist and tell us like it is.

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

The most and the most influential for me has got to be Flashdance! As a child I watched that over and over again. I was fascinated by Jennifer Beals’ character and journey and in many ways it became mine. Maybe not in leg warmers with big hair…but the struggle, the passion, the dedication to dance and the performing arts that have guided my entire life’s journey since I was a child.

But I can’t choose only one! That would be misleading. Among my top choices are Edward Scissor Hands for obvious reasons – not the least of which is the creative genius of Tim Burton.

Then Pedro Almodovar – he’s unhinged, but also so deeply human in his character development and stories. My favourite of his is Tie Me Up, Tie me Down!

Death Becomes her because – black comedy!

And finally, Graham Stocker’s Dracula for atmosphere.

I have too many sides to love only one movie or one type of cinema.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

It’s my first time ever submitting a film to festivals and I found the platform very user friendly and also a great way to make new connections and get a lot of exposure. It was helpful to make the process easy and track my performance in the festivals. I’d highly suggest it.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

On My Own, from Les Miserables – the Spanish Version because I had to sing it about 100 times a day for a month to prepare my performance for the musical in Sevilla. All my neighbours know the lyrics by now and it’s I think permanently become a running joke with my friends. Whenever they see me they start singing it to me! It’s kind of fitting now in hindsight that I won best performance for Pandemia- my first solo project.

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

Yes, absolutely! It’s already finished and entered into festivals. It’s called the Tragedy of Domna Visvizi. This time it’s a collaboration with Mixalis Iliaskos who is the creator of Greek National Videos and an amazing director, singer and interdisciplinary artist who I’ve had the privilege to work with before. It’s another passion project with a strong message about an amazing forgotten and forsaken Greek heroine called Domna Vizvisi. It initially started as a sketch that Mixalis and I recorded only on a cell phone. So we were very happy to add and work with Dimitris Tektonidis as D.O.P. for the finished version. Finally, last, but not least, I would like to mention Sakis Tselikis who wrote the music, Toula Karoni who wrote the lyrics and Jelena Ristic (copywriter) who managed to beautifully encapsulate the spirit of Domna’s words and Toula’s lyrics to the English subtitles.

Domna Vizvisi’s story is that she came from the upper class; her and her husband and for their love of Greece they sacrificed everything they had even though they had 5 children, to fight for Greek Independence. When her husband died, Domna didn’t give up the battle. Pregnant with her 5th child, she continued to fight in the war and ended up being left destitute, and homeless on the streets of Greece. When she applied for aid from the state as a veteran of the war, she was denied because a woman could not be recognized as a warrior at that time. She died forsaken and forgotten by the country she loved so much and she sacrificed everything to liberate. Today it would be different. At the very least she would be recognized for her efforts, so the aim of the film is to transport Domna and bring her back to life in a day and age where she can be rightfully recognized as the great Greek heroine she truly is. So many people fight hard, like our front line workers now against COVID and their struggles go unrecognized or unacknowledged. The Tragedy of Domna Visvizi is also a reminder that things like class and gender shouldn’t matter. We are all human, and it’s what we do and what we stand for that defines us most.

Interview with Filmmaker Michelle Brand (SYNCHRONICITY)

SYNCHRONICITY played to rave reviews at the October 2020 Animation, Dance & Music Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

The film is loosely based on ideas around Synchronicity, which believes that there is such a thing as meaningful coincidences. Less to do with fate, it’s about how there perhaps is a greater connection to things that seem to meet for no particular reason. It’s about the connection between ourselves and others, and our world and the bigger world out there.

I got really fascinated with this idea for a very long time, especially because while it means that we are all little ants floating around out there, we aren’t floating around alone. We are constantly, consciously or unconsciously, moving in and out of little spheres of other people’s lives, creating one universal big picture that we are unaware of, because we are too small to see it, and are part of the picture ourselves.

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

Roughly half a year, it was part of my first year MA animation course at the Royal College of Art in London.

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

Intertwined people.

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

The biggest obstacle was finding the right visuals for this idea of connectivity, and how to highlight this moment that happens when people’s movements overlap. I was thinking about sound, colour, style etc. a lot, until I realised the simplest and perhaps most suitable idea was to have people’s lines overlap and take out all the lines that don’t overlap between two people. The result is an abstract shape that carries human resemblance and movement, but can’t exist without another person’s presence.

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

I think everybody has similar ideas when they walk through a street and wonder what kind of people live behind these windows, or when they walk past somebody and catch a glimpse of their conversation they’re having on the phone. There is so much information that flies past us in public space that you can’t stop trying to connect these little dots. I got so fascinated with this idea of people’s connection in public space that I just had to process all of these thoughts somewhere.

The film then became like a visual thought process, discussing these philosophical ideas, and it turned into an instrument to capture overlapping moments in time and space between me and strangers forever. The audio that can be heard in the film are recordings of me walking past people and capturing glimpses of their conversations, yet they remain unintelligible. So in a sense, the film carries on overlapping forever, between myself and the strangers, between the strangers and the audience, between me and the audience, between little ants and big spheres.

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

Probably the old Disney animation ‘Pocahontas’, just because when I was little I didn’t have a lot of video tapes, so I would just watch the same few films over and over every evening.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I think it’s great because it makes the lives of filmmakers much easier, but it’s also a bit tricky to scan through festivals well and know which ones are the right choice for your film, it’s the usual trouble of too many options! In addition, not all festivals make it very clear what they do, so you really have to spend a lot of time researching what you want for your film before you pay a lot of random festivals an entry fee.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

I have created a special playlist on Spotify for when I animate, because animation is such a slow process, certain kind of music keeps me going for a long time – it’s a 20h long playlist which I listen to again and again nearly each day! It mainly has a bunch of experimental, rhythmical songs to it, for example work by Josiah Steinbrick, Yann Novak, and even work by Max Cooper, it’s a real mix of energy!

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

After Synchronicity I made another film called ‘Any Instant Whatever’, a short experimental animation about our perception of time and space, which is touring festivals right now and up on Vimeo recently. After that I needed a little break from lonely filmmaking, so I’m currently freelancing around and enjoying working on a lot of very different, exciting projects. Once I’ve enjoyed that for a bit, I probably will go back to sitting in a dark room animating, while staring into bright light.

Interview with Filmmaker Jennifer Petuch (LIMINALITY)

LIMINALITY was the winner of BEST DANCE FILM at the October 2020 Dance & Music Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

We began this project as a small collaboration. Annali Rose is currently a Graduate Student at Florida State University, School of Dance, on the returning professional track, and I (Jennifer Petuch) am currently Staff and Faculty at the FSU SOD, in charge of all the tech equipment and Documentation Directing for concerts, and I was approached by Annali in the beginning of Fall 2019 to see if there was a way for her to film underwater. She knew I was the person in charge of the tech equipment and cameras, and she wanted to film one of her choreography class’s projects underwater. One thing led to another, we became good friends and collaborators and had similar back stories for both dark experiences within the Ballet industry and trauma from past relationships. This became the root of our story: hitting rock bottom and self- perseverance to fight your way out.

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

Took about five months to complete this project:

-2 months: Annali choreographing under water in a swimming pool and me practicing different vantage points and movement with the GoPro camera in tandem with the choreography as well as us driving around Florida, scouting locations to film underwater.

-1 month: Filming at the Spring

-2 months: Editing all footage accompanied with an original music score.

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

“New Beginning”

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

Where to begin:

Freezing cold conditions, as we filmed this in a cold Spring in January of 2020. It is interesting to note that the water was warmer than the air. But that was the problem we didn’t expect: We kept trying to steady our breaths after each take by resting on the dock steps, but because it was in the 40’s and 50’s (Fahrenheit), each shoot, our body temperatures would drop faster and we kept getting first stages of Hypothermia.

There was a very strong current within the Spring which made me almost lose the Gopro at one point which would have fallen into the depths of the 30ft deep cave. I did however become Nemo at one point, where I lost a fin, but kept swimming and filming, but never recovered it to this day. Perhaps my lonely fin is a lovely, new home for a turtle?

Of course, I have years of experience filming on land and being a Florida kid, I pretty much grew up in the water, but I soon discovered, even with all of this background, this shoot was still one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to film, as I also had to compose shots while swimming and filming simultaneously.

In general, being that cold and trying to be creative when your brain felt frozen was by far the biggest challenge. But the Art was worth it!

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

Beyond touched. I started crying one-minute in. The viewers totally understood the story and interpreted the main metaphor behind the piece correctly. It’s this artist dream to be able to connect with viewers, especially at such a remote time like this. It was such a treat to hear everyone’s feedback. Thank you so much.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

Annali and I had a lot of similar dark stories from our pasts both pertaining to abusive relationships from men and destructive experiences within the harsh world of the Ballet industry. On the outside, the film is about the continuation of the story of when Odette, from Swan Lake, dives into the lake to drown herself at the end of the Ballet, but there is a much deeper metaphor lying in the depths of this film.

The water itself is something that our past partners never were; supportive. It’s both a curse and a blessing as we can certainly drown but a blessing that it will never drop us and it supports us on all sides. As I had just personally ended an abusive relationship a few months prior to this film, I really wanted to emphasize where I currently was in my life; the stage of hitting rock bottom and finding the strength within myself to fight my way out.

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

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are your feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I like the platform of submitting films on Filmfreeway compared to the “old school” method of filling out tons of catered forms for individual festivals. Love that I can make one profile with all the info included for each film and then submit it. I appreciate the convenience, so as artists, we can spend our time creating instead of spending time on paperwork.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

“Opening” by Philip Glass

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

I am in the process of creating a self-portrait, projection mapping dance film, called “Me. Too.” This film will be shared via Social Media the first week of December 2020. It’s the idea of a phoenix rising from the ashes and flying. Yes, the story is pertaining to the “Me Too” movement. It will be danced, choreographed, projection designed, mapped and filmed all by me and I see this as the most cathartic piece I’ll have ever made in my life. The time is right.

Interview with Filmmaker Cameron Johanning (STICKY)

STICKY was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the September 2020 Drama Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

The moral at the heart of the story rang like a bell for me — you don’t get to choose what the people around you do even if it hurts you. You do get to choose how to react, maybe not in the moment, but over time, you do. Too many families and friends are torn apart by pride.

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

Too long.

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

summer sisters

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

At what stage was there not a big obstacle? I’ll pick a diplomatic one because it’s also funny. We made the rookie mistake of filming at the metro platform during golden hour — another term for “when people get back from work.” One straphanger announced that he not only “paid for this city,” but also would be using the stairwell that we were filming on in protest. In a physical sense, he really was our biggest obstacle.

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

Shock. Heaven forbid I conflate myself with the greats, but I recall Wes Anderson telling a story about a test screening for one of his earlier films and receiving exclusively negative feedback, save for one slip of paper. Someone got it. That’s how I feel.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

I contacted a very talented playwright acquaintance (now dear friend, Sean Peter Drohan) and basically demanded that we collaborate on a film! Luckily, he was game. So we started searching for inspiration by sifting through personal statements that we’d helped to craft over the years, and the statement that “Sticky” is based on came through the kitchen doors like a sizzling fajita. How could we not make that?

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

At any given moment, I’m down to watch Casino Royale. And there have been many moments when I have.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are your feelings about the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

FilmFreeway is great. It can be difficult to figure out where one’s audience is geographically and psychologically, and the platform helped me to sift through so much of that.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

“Nobody’s Empire” by Belle & Sebastian

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

I do have a film project that I’d like to pursue, but it’s a tad nebulous by nature and would be a departure from the clean writing style of “Sticky.” I think it will offer a really big emotional payoff, so as soon as I find a way in, it’ll be off to the races. For now, I’m focusing on making music under the pseudonym Smith St. Nicholas.

Interview with Filmmaker Fanny Lecendre (NORTHERN LIGHT)

NORTHERN LIGHT was the winner of BEST FILM at the September 2020 Drama Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I presented my idea at The Pitch Cannes Festival in France and I won the contest. I received a grant to write my movie, that was the beginning the adventure.

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

After I got the grant, it took me a year to make the short.

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

Two brothers.

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

The tide going up and down, and working with my boyfriend of the time as the director of photography.

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

I got really moved to hear strangers talking about my work. I felt that they understood different levels of the movie and that made me very happy.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

The relationship with my big brother has been my main inspiration for this movie. The wild landscapes of North of France where I grew up was my second source of inspiration.

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

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind directed by French director Michel Gondry.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

FilmFreeway makes it very easy for filmmakers to submit to many festivals. My only note is that they should do a membership that allows us to submit our films to a specific number of festivals every months.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

I get obsessed with a song and I listened to it non-stop for two months and then I switch to a new one. I can’t find just one!

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

I’ve been acting for two years so my next step is to act in a movie that I wrote. More recently I’ve been co-writing a feature film, I’m really excited about this new project.