Interview with Filmmaker Kevin Rosen-Quan (CHOICES)

CHOICES was the winner of BEST SOUND & MUSIC at the July 2020 LGBT Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Kevin Rosen-Quan: I’ve always wanted to write and direct, but found it difficult to reach all the milestones it takes to do so. Recently, I joined a volunteer organization called Assorted Kinds, which enables short filmmakers to develop and execute one short film every month. After several months of volunteering my services as a production sound mixer, I was given the opportunity to submit a script to direct.

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

One of the things that makes Assorted Kinds unique is a restricted timetable. Scripts are submitted and voted on at the beginning of each month, and the selected script must be shot at the end of that month. After shooting, because I essentially shot seven versions of the same scene, I spent another month editing each couple individually and then was finally able to make the super cut of all seven couples together.

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

Two Risottos!?

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

The edit was definitely the biggest obstacle. At first, I tried to assemble all seven couples into the final cut straightaway, and found it nearly impossible. Where to start? What to cut out? In the end, I had to cut each couple individually in order to truly understand each couple’s strengths and bring the best bits from each pair to the final cut, and have it all flow together in a way that doesn’t lose the audience to confusion. Despite the whole film being only four minutes in total, it took a whole month or so of editing to get it there.

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

I was very happy to hear that it didn’t seem to be confusing to anyone haha. It was also satisfying to see that the audience understood that weaving seven couples together was more than just a gimmick, and spoke to universality of human relationships that transcends race, gender, handicap, or sexual orientations. I always felt that it was this concept that elevated Choices above a simple comedy sketch into something more poignant and meaningful.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

The original idea was born out of a simple joke that I may have seen somewhere before: a scene where couple is having a conversion, and at one point we cut to one of the characters and he/she is replaced by a completely different actor. Then we cut and cut back and they’re back to the original actor. Would the audience notice? Would it be funny? Then, as comedy writers tend to do, I tried to see how far we could push it, how many characters we could swap out, or how frequently we could swap them. That being said, the script itself was actually written at the very last second right before voting for that month’s scripts. I had the idea for how to tell the story, but no actual story or characters haha. So I quickly whipped up a stream-of-consciousness script about not being able to choose a meal at a restaurant. That quick first draft ended up being the shooting script.

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

Big Trouble In Little China

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

It was my first time submitting a film but it seemed pretty frictionless…

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

I listen to music pretty much every waking moment I can, and also when I sleep for that matter haha. So picking a single song would be tough. I do remember listening to Nine Inch Nails in high school and thinking, one day when I’m a director I’m going to put their music in films…and then Fincher went and did it ahead of me.

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

I have been fortunate enough to get the opportunity to direct three additional shorts with Assorted Kinds over the past year, all of which are still in post purgatory. Two of them I wrote, and one is a pilot for a sci-fi television series that I am developing. I love exploring experimental new storytelling concepts like the one that spawned Choices, and I’m always looking for the next opportunity to do so.

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