Interview with Filmmaker Dominic McCafferty (BOONDOGGLE)

THE DOOR was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the November 2018 Thriller/Suspense Festival in 2018.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Dominic McCafferty: I actually made Boondoggle as part of my final university project, where myself and my crew had to make a short film that was between 10 and 20 minutes. Of course, this wasn’t the only motivator. As I’ve only made a few short films (none of which were made with any real organisation), one of the main motivators for me was to make it as simple and minimalistic as possible, such as having it take place in one location and not having many characters or special effects, that sort of thing.

I also wanted to really test myself when writing the script by having the protagonist not talk at all throughout the entire film, as a way of pushing myself to think of more cinematic tools, other than just dialogue. I think having little dialogue creates perhaps more space for ambiguity and interpretation, something I enjoy in films. So, I guess we wanted to challenge ourselves to encourage thinking outside of the box, as well as showing that we could still make something with little.

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

As it was a still a university project, we had a deadline as well as other projects to focus on, which resulted the entirety of the process being stretched out to about 7 months. I wrote the first draft of the script in October of 2017 and was constantly re-writing and adjusting it until we began shooting in March 2018. The shooting itself took place over three days and I believe we spent roughly a month in post-production.

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

Futile greed.

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

The location. A week before we arrived, there was lots of snowfall all over the UK and by the time we were filming it had all melted, resulting in extremely thick mud at our location. At the start of the first day of shooting, my car and our cinematographer’s car both got stuck in the mud and we had to ask the landowner to help pull the cars out. In fact, in the first shot of the film where the car drives up to the little shack, we actually had to lay down some planks of wood so that it wouldn’t get stuck, which it did a few times after that. We were also filming just a couple of miles from Heathrow Airport, so planes would often fly overhead and ruin the sound for a take.

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

It was very surreal seeing a full theater of people talking about Boondoggle from across the pond. I found it really interesting to hear other people’s individual interpretations of the film and the characters. It’s strange thinking back to when I conceived the idea, to writing and shooting it and now to have people watch it and talk about it across the globe. It’s very exciting!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

A couple of years before I wrote the script, I read John Steinbeck’s ‘The Pearl’, which has similar themes of greed and power. I found the idea of having power alone controlling someone’s actions before they even get what it is that they desire, very interesting. In the case of Boondoggle, how up until the chest is opened, there is no proof that it possesses anything. It’s a real gamble that could go either way.

I also wanted to make a film that almost felt like it could be an ancient tale or a fable, which gave me the idea of the chest as almost having an ethereal atmosphere around it, kind of like Pandora’s box.

Being as greed was the main motivator for the characters, I came up with the dynamic of having the two opposing alpha males in contrast to the quiet, unassuming young man, despite them all ultimately wanting the same thing. I thought it would be almost comical to have the two alphas be so confident in what we they think they know about Nick (the protagonist), that they fail to realise that he would have his own ideas. Having them both come to him saying “Lets kill the other guy and take what’s in the chest” puts Nick in a difficult situation, but at the same time gives him an advantage, which I thought would be an interesting dynamic to film.

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

Probably ‘The Shining’. Having said that, there are particular clips from other films that I love and I can safely say I’ve watched those clips/scenes hundreds of times.

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

I thought it was extremely efficient. This is the first film I’ve ever submitted to festivals and it was very clear and easy to understand. All the other filmmakers I know use it to submit their films to festivals, which was how I found out about it in the first place.

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

Probably ‘The Man Who Sold The World’, the David Bowie version.

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

I have recently written a script for another short as well as completed a treatment for another, both are completely different to Boondoggle. Ideas often float into my head, so I’ve got lots of random, broad film ideas written down which I will certainly be developing!

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