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Justin Hannah, Director/Writer: CONSIGNMENT

February 25, 2014
Justin Hannah, Director

Justin Hannah, Director

1Q: Tell us a little about the origins of CONSIGNMENT, from concept to financing.

The original concept came out of my interest in a sort of 1950’s style of filmmaking – these exaggerated, stylized films with very dramatic lighting, lush narrative music and mannered performances. I love the feeling of mood of those kinds of films. So I wanted to make something in that style, in that alternate world. At the same time, I became a little bit obsessed with this consignment shop I would pass on my way home from work. All you could see from the road were these mannequins wearing older women’s clothes in the storefront, and murky darkness behind them. I can’t say why, but the two concepts started to fuse in my mind, and I started imagining what kind of mysterious things might be going on inside that consignment shop. Which led to the story that we see in the film.

To raise funds for the movie, I submitted work to tongal.com, a website that connects creative people with large companies. I was able to raise around $1000 from a Beach Boys music video contest and a few other things. From there, I was really lucky to find talented people who shared my passion and who were willing to help with the necessities and/or work for reduced rates. Like the cinematographer Lee Clements, and the composer Robert Casal, both incredibly talented people, among many others. The budget for CONSIGNMENT ended up being around $2000.

2Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making CONSIGNMENT?

I would say the best experience was watching something that began as a feeling or a mood in my mind slowly crystalizing and becoming this physical thing that exists in the world, and the universe coming together to help make that happen. I’m sure that that’s true for most films, but CONSIGNMENT is a period piece, so there were so many details – locations, clothing, hairstyles, props, vehicles – that couldn’t be taken for granted. But one by one, each one fell into place, with strangers (now friends, mostly) coming forward and volunteering props, clothing, filming locations (in one case, an entire town!), antique vehicles… everything. Of course, it’s easier to say that in hindsight, and it took over a year for it all to come together into a finished film. But still, there was something magical about how it all came together.

3Q: CONSIGNMENT has shown at several film festivals and even won a few awards. Do audiences respond differently at some festivals than they do at others? And do you ever stop being nervous?

I’m thrilled that CONSIGNMENT has been accepted into several festivals, and like you mentioned, has won a few awards. But I definitely haven’t stopped being nervous! It’s scary every single time. It’s an odd movie, so I never know how people are going to respond to it. But honestly, everyone I’ve spoken to at the showings have been incredibly kind, warm and interested. There was one showing where someone asked me straight out, “what did i just watch?” And there have been others where the audience really got it, and locked into the story or the mood, and in some cases even the technical aspects of the film, and really enjoyed it. It’s fun to talk to people about their interpretations of the film; they are usually a lot more perceptive than they realize.

4Q: Although short films are my favorite, they often have little chance of being seen by a wide audience, and an even smaller chance of gaining you fame and fortune. Now that you’re in the “easy” stage of filmmaking, the high of showing your film to an audience, was the making of CONSIGNMENT worth it? Will there be more films from you in the future and would you stick to the short format?

I would definitely say that CONSIGNMENT was worth it. I’d love to make more films, most likely short films for the foreseeable future. I agree that shorts have less of a chance for success than features, but like you, I’m a fan of the format. I also have a theory about resources – that basically, I have a certain amount of time, money, talent, etc., that I can put into a project. If I make a short film, those resources will be more concentrated than if I put the same amount into a feature. I’ve actually known people who have done this, and I personally would rather have a concentrated film that reaches a smaller audience than a feature where the quality is inconsistent, or that feels watered down or stretched thin. In the end, I want to make something that I’m happy with, regardless of how many people end up seeing it.

5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won an Oscar for CONSIGNMENT.  Give us your acceptance speech.

Oh, gosh. I’m terrible at speeches. I can’t even imagine. It would be awkward. That’s the only thing I can say for sure.

See CONSIGNMENT at The River City Festival of Films!
“Like” them on Facebook!

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