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Christopher Graham and Joseph Arney, Director/Writer team: NOBLE FIR

March 6, 2014

Christopher Graham

Christopher Graham

Joseph Arney

Joseph Arney

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

Growing up in rural Oregon provides one with a lot of inspiration. We’ve been pals since childhood and have always been inspired by similar themes. Many of these themes are profoundly represented within the context of a Christmas tree farm. Having had grandfathers and uncles who have made their living from owning and operating tree farms, we didn’t need to look too far for inspiration. We wanted to tell a story that represents the Oregon we grew up with: beautiful, rugged, tragic–full of strong men who suffer pain silently.

Once we had our story, we began to assemble our crew. We brought in talented friends and family whose enthusiasm exceeded our own! We financed our film with their generous donations and a few credit cards. We benefited from all the goodwill within the small town we grew up in. People were donating their properties, vehicles, and businesses to help us make our film–overwhelming us with their generosity.   

We chose to tell the story in a hyper-realistic style. We truly respect the Dardenne brothers and the films of the Romanian New Wave and hoped to capture a bit of that same spirit while not losing our own voice in the process.

2Q: Cinequest is hosting the World Premiere of NOBLE FIR.  Explain to us how it feels to bring this film before audiences for the first time, and what do you think their reaction will be to your film? 

Frightening. Exciting. Disconcerting. Relieved. We feel honored and humbled at the same time.

What do we think the reaction will be? Well… we hope we aren’t trampled by angry cinephiles demanding their money back. We hope our parents don’t regret the money they spent on our film degrees. Kidding (we don’t have film degrees)! We hope it touches audiences and makes them think. We hope there will be a few tears and a few laughs and we hope that at least a few will want us to make another film.

3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making NOBLE FIR?

The best has to be turning the town we grew up in into our own personal playground. For nearly three weeks we ran around filming in our old stomping grounds. Seeing people we haven’t seen in 15 years. Much of the creative team grew up making videos together. After high school, we all went off to different schools and began our careers in various art-driven fields. When we informed them that we had a feature we wanted to shoot, nobody hesitated: they dropped everything and brought their insane talents back home where it all started. At the risk of sounding cheesy, it was exactly how you’d dream it would be: surrounded by our closest friends, playing make-believe out in the woods all day. We owe a huge thank you to all the wives and girlfriends who let their guys drop off the earth for three weeks. Many of them brought their talents to the shoot as well.

We really can’t think of any bad moments on set…. Well, maybe one: we had hoped for typical Oregon weather: overcast, threatening to rain or drizzle, but always overcast. In Oregon it’s possible to see rain, sun, and snow on the same day. You can stand outside and bask in the sun while being rained on at the same time. It’s great! We had the ability to adapt to all weather conditions except snow. Guess what we woke up to for two days of the shoot? But everyone pulled together and we made the most of it. Even provided some amazing images. So the worst experience really wasn’t so bad.

4Q: Festival audiences often have to make hard decisions about what to see, and the catalog descriptions sometimes run together. In your own words, why should people see your film?

Noble Fir touches on both personal and universal themes: anger, grief, suffering. These emotions can be difficult to deal with or even talk about. Many of us try to push them away or hold them down until they give up struggling. But they still remain below the surface. We think the film presents a perspective not often seen in our culture today and we hope it gets people thinking about what they’re battling… and whom.

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

We’d like to thank the Academy for continuing their esteemed Technical Awards dinners. If not for the innovative use of our “tree-cam” we would never have had a chance to appear in this brief montage to be aired right before the commercial break on the 88th Annual Academy Awards show. We’d like to thank our amazing and delightfully incongruous hosts, Lorenzo Lamas and Adam Richman. And our compliments to the chefs for baking the potatoes just twice enough. Thank you!

See NOBLE FIR at Cinequest!
Watch the trailer!
“Like” them on Facebook!


From → Interviews

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