Skip to content

Kamell Allaway, writer/director: SEA HORSE

Kamell Allaway directs SEA HORSE

Kamell Allaway directs SEA HORSE

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

Sea Horse has been a project close to my heart since 2009. Back then it was just a kernel of an idea, which developed into a short script, and then into a feature script. By 2011, I had met a series of incredibly talented artists, I had developed connections and resources in Alaska, and I had found a few private investors who were interested in supporting independent film. It all fell into place and before I knew it, we were filming in Seward, Alaska. Being that we were all in Grad School at the time, we underwent a delayed post-process. From pre-production to completion, Sea Horse was a 4-year journey.

2Q: Cinequest Film Festival is hosting the World Premiere of Sea Horse. 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?

I’m incredibly excited to share our film with audiences at Cinequest. It truly is a perfect fit. I hope audiences will be challenged by Sea Horse and I hope that they enjoy investing themselves into the experience we’ve created with the film.

3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making Sea Horse?

Honestly, the whole experience was incredible. It was quite a journey. Making this film taught me a lot about filmmaking and a lot about myself. There was one day when we had to hike up a mountain, carrying tons of equipment, with the goal of shooting near a glacier. We were given access to shoot there, but we didn’t have an official permit. Only an hour into shooting, a ranger approached us with a document declaring that we officially could NOT shoot there. I somehow convinced him to let us go for one more hour. We kept our word and then lugged all the equipment back down the mountain. That scene got cut, haha! I think the crew wanted to strangle me (jokingly). Even challenges like that were thrilling. We always made it exciting and fun.

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?

Sea Horse is a film that channels the ambiguity and complex experience that is life. It explores fear and how it impacts our relationships. It explores the confusion of being lost, and the victory of being found. If you’re interested in surrealism, survival films, drama, love, or just checking out an independent film at random and talking to us about it after, then I hope to see you there!

5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won the Oscar for Sea Horse. Give us your acceptance speech.

“Are you sure?”

See SEA HORSE at Cinequest!
View the trailer!
Follow them on Facebook!
Follow them on Twitter!

SeaHorse_1_1000x316

Eric Badros, writer/director: CLEW

Director Eric Badros and actor Paul Atkins on the set of CLEW

Director Eric Badros and DOP Paul Atkins on the set of CLEW

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

I met Taylor Graham (Jack Hadrian) through a mutual friend and one night, we were talking about our frustrations with the film business – me not having a studio-feature handed to me, him not getting roles that were meaty, we decided to just make our own. I would write something that would showcase his abilities.

I suggested we contact Heather Weeks (Evelyn Campbell) as I had worked with her a bunch and was really impressed with her. She agreed to come on board.

We started meeting once a week, building the structure of a THE BIG CHILL type movie. After our meetings I would go home, write, and bring pages for notes. When we finally had the script, I went to some of my investors and got money for the movie – mostly family and friends. Then we cast everything and at the end of 2008 we were ready to go.

As I started getting closer to the production, I started realizing that I wasn’t super passionate about the script and didn’t think that I was the best person to direct. I felt really bad about it all and called Taylor and Heather together to break the news. Beforehand though, I talked to my investors and asked if it would be cool if we made a different movie, to which they agreed.

So that night when I met with Taylor and Heather, I let them know I’d be open to making another film, and opened the floor for suggestions. We had a few drinks and the premise for CLEW was born.

A lot of the story was informed by a script I had written earlier – RAZING WINTER which was heavily influenced by GODEL, ESCHER, BACH. We met a few more times and built out the story structure. We were shooting within a few months.

2Q: Cinequest Film Festival is hosting the World Premiere of CLEW. 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?

My feelings are a bit ambivalent. Making CLEW has been such a wonderful, lovely thing, that I don’t want it to be over. So while I’m excited to share the film, it definitely signifies the end of a period of my life.

I don’t really know what to expect in terms of a reaction. This movie has not been screen-tested except with close friends and family. Based on those screenings, I would guess people are going to be talking to each other about it after the movie and want to see it again. I can definitely say that one of my favorite things about filmmaking is watching it with an audience.

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

Best experience was working with Taylor and Heather, rehearsing and just having fun. They are awesome and so infinitely watchable.

Worst experience was probably the non-creative aspects of finishing. I did most of the VFX myself and the rotoscoping that I didn’t farm out got to be miserable after a while.

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?

Not only is it a suspenseful thriller, Clew is a timely and thought-provoking film that will stay with you after it ends. If you like cerebral sci-fi like PRIMER or eXistenZ, 80s thrillers like JAGGED EDGE or MISERY (actually 1990), or noir like LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN, this is the film for you.

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

I have quite an imagination, but I like to keep things in the realm of possibility. Let me just say, at this point in my career, I don’t think winning an Oscar would be a blessing.

See CLEW at Cinequest!
View the trailer!
Follow them on Facebook!

Clew_1_1000x316

Dustin Milligan and Aaron Brooks, writers/actors/exec-producers: BAD CITY

Dustin Milligan and Aaron Brooks, filmmakers for BAD CITY

Dustin Milligan and Aaron Brooks, filmmakers for BAD CITY

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

Carl Bessai optioned another script of ours that we were shooting a teaser for, and it happened to be set in the 70’s. We had so much fun chain-smoking, drinking, and open-palm-slapping (especially once we started filming), that we decided to write a feature loosely based on these guys. Something that would not only be cheap, but that would exploit how cheap it was. With Carl’s blessing, Aaron and Dustin spent 8 ENTIRE DAYS (minus 2 hrs for gym and 6 hrs for video games per day) writing this terrible Canuxploitation buddy-cop super-comedy.

Basically, we tried to emulate the lack of story structure, character development and continuity of traditional Blaxploitation movies, hence why it only took 8 days—Every unnecessarily expository conversation and 13 minute driving montage got to stay in as long as it didn’t make the movie more expensive.

8 months later we had scrounged together just enough money amongst ourselves to start shooting and spent the next couple weeks making the baddest movie to come out of Canada since…uh…Men With Brooms?

2Q: BAD CITY has done quite well at other film festivals. Will you be less nervous now at Cinequest? Does this process ever get any easier?

Who says we were ever nervous? Why would you ask that? WHO HIRED YOU!?! SHUT UP!! WHO HIRED YOU!? SHUT UP!!!!

3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making BAD CITY?

Best experience was watching Dustin and Pauline kiss/tongue-dart. There was so much unnecessary boob grabbing. And we love boob grabbing. This was just too much, though.

Worst experience was doing some of the wire stuff. We were suspended in harnesses that really didn’t fit us and cut into our armpits and crotch region quite severely. Our butts bled. Literally.

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?

People should see our movie if they enjoy one or more of the following:

Comedy
Action
Romance
Strong family values
Unusually long sex scenes
Heavy drug-use
Nunchuck-use
The Guy’s Partner Dies In The First 5 Minutes
Montages
Perogies
Montages featuring Perogies
Redemption
Clever Wordplay/Puns
Wantin’ the Funk
Feelin’ the Funk
Needin’ the Funk
Someone Must’ve Cut The Brake-lines!
Blaxploitation
Just, so much slapping

5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won the Oscar for BAD CITY. Give us your acceptance speech.

Oh man! We totally didn’t expect this at all…

*pulls out a four page speech*

First, we’d like to thank God…eau. Antoine Godeau, the french poet, known for his work of criticism: Discourse de la Poésie Chrétienne from 1633. Also, we’d like to thank our families, who have supported us through thick and thin (the rapid weight-gain and loss we experienced due to excessive stress-eating and relax-snacking while at work.) And of course, Canada. Thank you, Canada, you sexy, sexy country, you…Honestly, we’ve been to lots of countries, and while many of them seem sexy, none of them live up to the beautiful, polite, resource-heavy FREAK that you are, Canada. Damn…

*music starts playing*

…Oh no! The music! Thank you to everyone who helped make this movie happen! The Volunteers! The fans! And of course the Academy! Not sure what kind of drugs you were taking when you voted for our little movie…So please, let us know. Thank you!

See BAD CITY at Cinequest!
View the trailer!
Follow them on Facebook!
Follow them on Twitter!

BadCity_1_1000x316

Jennifer Gegan, actress: DESIRE IN NEW YORK

Jennifer Gegan plays “Karen” in DESIRE IN NEW YORK

1Q: Tell us how you became involved with Desire in New York, and how you prepared for your role.

The funny thing is that I almost wasn’t involved with Desire in New York. I saw the casting call but didn’t submit right away because I was involved in a couple of other projects and wasn’t sure I had the time that was needed to commit. I also was a little concerned with the extreme edgy material as described in the film. However, curiosity got the best of me, and the character and story were so intriguing, I went ahead and submitted my headshot and resume. I met with director Ed Ziari and his co-producer Luke Carron in their office building for the first audition. Ed really took the time to explain the type of film he wanted to shoot and what he was looking for in the part of Karen. His enthusiasm was so contagious, and he was so direct in what he wanted that any concerns I had, disappeared in that meeting.

To help me with the part, Ed had me do some specific film research before the call back. That helped me a lot as to how he wanted Karen to be perceived. I also did some research of my own and had some character development meetings with Ed before shooting. Before some of the more dramatic scenes, I also listened to specialized music that would help me with the deep emotions that Karen was going through. Although my personal life experiences don’t directly parallel with Karen’s, I was still able to draw from my past, some feelings, emotions and empathetic compassion for the character that would give some authenticity to her struggle of the crisis she was going through in the film.

2Q: Cinequest Film Festival is hosting the World Premiere of Desire in New York. 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?

To have Desire in New York premiere at such a prestigious film festival like Cinequest, it is very exciting. It’s great to be appreciated when everyone has worked so hard to make this project such a success. The audiences will be captivated not only by the story, but the cinematography and music are so beautiful, you forget you are watching a low budget feature film. I think the movie will stir up much controversy and people will walk away talking about it and thinking about it for awhile.

3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making Desire in New York?

The best experience was working with such a talented cast and crew, especially the director who knew what he wanted. Ed was very precise about every scene, every shot, and what he wanted from the actors. He had a direct vision of what his movie was going to be and that confidence and talent really shows in the final product. Ed also was extremely professional, as was the crew, and created a very safe environment, especially when filming the more intimate scenes. His confidence allowed me to relax and bring everything I could to the work, the character and the film.

The worst experience ironically produced some of the most beautiful cinematography in the movie. Because of other actors time constraints of shooting in New York, we were forced to shoot most of the exterior shots on the coldest days of last year. There were irritations, but I can safely say that those frustrations disappeared when I saw on screen the amazing cinematic shots that were produced on those teeth chattering days.

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?

Desire in New York tackles a very controversial and taboo subject. It depicts the lengths some women will go through to combat alienation to find companionship,sexual satisfaction and happiness in their lives. This movie does not play it safe and it drives to the heart and soul of loneliness and depression with directness, honesty and has emotionally raw appeal. It’s an empathetic portrayal into the depths of human craving and obsession. Gritty yet beautifully written, filmed and directed.

5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won the Oscar for Desire in New York. Give us your acceptance speech.

I want to thank Ed for writing such a complicated, interesting and controversial role that any actress would dream of playing in her career. Also huge thanks to all the cast and crew, whose unique talents all contributed to a beautiful film. Finally, my gratitude to my family and friends, specifically my Aunt Margaret and wonderful friend, Martha Hanson. Their support at the earliest stages helped to keep my eye on the prize and stay dedicated to this wonderful journey.

See DESIRE IN NEW YORK at Cinequest!
View the Trailer!
Follow them on Facebook!

10690273_1451201838476191_6789159547020812001_n

Kristjan Thor and Ashlin Halfnight, director and writer: ASTRAEA

AstraeaOneSheet_web

Kristjan Thor directed and Ashlin Halfnight wrote ASTRAEA

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

There were several inspiration points for ASTRAEA:
First, we both have a deep love of sci-fi and post-apocalyptic narratives, but were feeling that rich, humanistic, character-driven narratives (the kind we seek out as viewers) were underrepresented in those genres.

There was also a really strong passion for the conceptual blend of a teenage coming of age story, but set against the backdrop of the apocalypse. The film takes place in an empty world, where Astraea’s peer group is totally unique and very intimate, and she as a character is developing these odd, visionary abilities… you can also view it as something of a metaphor for the experience of being a teenager in general.

The myth was also a touchstone – Astraea is a Greek god who is the last to abandon the selfish, violent, human race before ascending to the heavens… but with a promise to return.

The group of us – Jessica, Scotty, Kris, Ashlin – had just come off working on the independent feature DIVING NORMAL in various capacities, and Ashlin pitched ASTRAEA as a very cinematic story that could be told without the encumbrances of shooting in New York City. Of course, shooting in the White Mountains in Maine brought its own challenges.

Not being film insiders with connections to studios or major financiers, we decided to finance the film with private equity, door to door, almost. It was a lot of work, but we have been lucky enough to find that investors are always excited by the story, and impressed with our film, and so we’ve managed to fully fund ASTRAEA in that manner.

2Q: Cinequest Film Festival is hosting the World Premiere of ASTRAEA. 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?

We couldn’t be more excited and honored. Cinequest is such an amazing festival, and the fact that they’re celebrating an anniversary this year is so cool. We’re all celebrating.

When ASTRAEA is projected on the screen at Cinequest, it will be the culmination of two years of work for the group of us, and we’re all going to be nervous and thrilled, and we’re going to have to remind ourselves to try to take at least one moment to just appreciate the journey.

The audiences will hopefully love it – they’ll have an energized, sci-fi ride with amped-up moments of danger and suspense, but also have quiet moments to connect to character and story, and ideally, they’ll also come away with something to think about.

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

Our best experience was surely the whole process – the collaborative efforts that everyone made to tell the story in the best possible way, and how the small towns in Maine where we live and filmed really got behind the film. The premiere and screenings at Cinequest will also top the list, we’re sure… but unlike Astraea, we can’t see the future.

We didn’t have a worst experience, really, but I’m sure Jess and Scotty would say being dropped through three feet of ice into a frozen lake for a few hours is not an ordeal they’d like to repeat.

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?

People should see ASTRAEA because it’s a movie about a pissed off teenage girl with special powers growing up after the apocalypse! How cool is that?

Also, it’s a gorgeous film with incredible performances – every element is so strong – and it’s a wild ride with a lot of depth feeling.

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

Thank you. Thank you to all the people who invested their time, blood, sweat, tears, and money into this project. It truly took a village to raise Astraea, both the girl and the film. We couldn’t be more grateful.

To the other movies in the category: you deserved this as much as we do – especially the awesome third version of Spiderman 2. That story just gets sweeter every time.

To the Academy, thank you for recognizing that Sci-Fi does deserve a place at the awards table, and thank you for honoring the spirit and storytelling of ASTRAEA: this film wasn’t born in a boardroom – it was born out of an honest and impassioned shared vision, and we couldn’t be more excited to have that way of working recognized and applauded.

See Astraea at Cinequest!
View the trailer!
Follow them on Facebook!
Follow them on Twitter!
View them on Instagram!

Astraea_1_1000x316

Ellen Brodsky, director: THE YEAR WE THOUGHT ABOUT LOVE

Ellen Brodsky directs The Year We Thought About Love

Ellen Brodsky directs The Year We Thought About Love

1Q: Tell us a little about the origins of The Year We Thought About Love, from concept to financing.

For 20 years I have heard incredible stories about the rehearsals of True Colors:OUT Youth Theater from Abe Rybeck, my brother-in-law who started The Theater Offensive, the host organization. I did theater in high school and always loved the risk taking that takes place in rehearsals. Later in life, when I worked with LGBTQ youth, I was impressed with the risk taking that happens in every day life. This film was a chance to watch risk taking in a safe place, a rehearsal room of a queer theater company – as well as the risk taking in performing art based on your own life in front of your peers.

2Q: The Year We Thought About Love has done quite well at other film festivals. Will you be less nervous now at Cinequest? Does this process ever get any easier?

I’ve had a blast at other festivals meeting filmmakers,seeing great films, and then connecting with audiences who each have a unique relationship to our film and the topic of LGBTQ youth. It can be challenging watching people watch your film, but also such a gift.

3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making The Year We Thought About Love?

The Boston Marathon Bombing which occurred just yards from the rehearsal space was deeply upsetting for everyone involved – the cast of the theater troupe, our film crew, and the entire city.

The Best experience was when I woke up very early and a bit cranky to film the last school performance and then was thrilled to find that the school had hundreds of students in the audience, with lively reactions and thoughtful questions. It gave us the beginning and end of our film!

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?

I think our film is fun, thoughtful, and deeply universal. So many of us struggle with how to be true to ourselves, and share our real selves with people we love. Here is a group of young people doing just that – with humor and attitude and a dose of fearlessness. If you are part of the LGBTQ community – you can have a blast with our film, and if you live/work/play with anyone who is queer, you will enjoy yourself as well.

5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won the Oscar for The Year We Thought About Love. Give us your acceptance speech.

Hmmm…that’s a tough one. I remember being 10 or 11 and practicing giving an Oscar speech. At that point I promised to always thank our guinea pig. I may have to re-think that promise.

See The Year We Thought About Love at Cinequest!
View the trailer!
Follow them on Facebook!

YearWeThought_1_1000x316

Kalon Jackson, actor: DESIRE IN NEW YORK

Kalon Jackson plays "Ray" in DESIRE IN NEW YORK

Kalon Jackson plays “Ray” in DESIRE IN NEW YORK

1Q: Tell us how you became involved with DESIRE IN NEW YORK, and how you prepared for your role.

I was contacted after submitting for the role of Ray, I felt that the character of Ray, although supporting, had his own story to tell so I went out and study NY street musicians, saw how they moved, the way they connected with the audience through their music, as well as the connection with someone older that seemed to have a entire different world and experiences to share.

2Q: Cinequest Film Festival is hosting the World Premiere of DESIRE IN NEW YORK. 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?

Wow is that even possible to put into words? Ok let’s see..its ALWAYS exciting to hear that a festival especially one as prestigious as Cinequest recognizes your craft and creativity of something you’ve been a part of because you believe there’s a story there worth telling. At the same time it can be overwhelming not knowing how the audience will respond but seeing how 50 Shades did so well in box office I think we’re safe! Lol

3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making DESIRE IN NEW YORK?

My best experience was getting a chance to work on a guerilla style film project with a great cast and crew that all had the focus to see the project through fruition. The worst definitely would be filming a sex scene outside during the winter time (by the water) in New York! Final answer.

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?

Its a Passionate, Emotional, character driven story that uncovers desires that many people try to keep hidden from fear of how others will perceive them.

5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won the Oscar for DESIRE IN NEW YORK. Give us your acceptance speech.

Wow, I always dreamed of this day and yet now that the moment is here I’m speechless. First I would like to thank God because without him I wouldn’t have the Desire in my heart and Talent to create the characters that you all embrace and feel connected to. My mom for sacrificing so much and instilling morals and beliefs that I could be whatever I wanted to and to never forget my foundation. Last but not least I would like to thank the fans, cast and crew and the awesome academy for the selection. Because of you all, I’m going to continue to work harder to bring you the Best Entertainment money can buy!

See DESIRE IN NEW YORK at Cinequest!
View the Trailer!
Follow them on Facebook!
Follow Kalon on Twitter!
Follow Kalon on Instagram!

DesireInNY_1_1000x316

M dot Strange, director: HEART STRING MARIONETTE [The Silent]

M dot Strange directed HEART STRING MARIONETTE

M dot Strange directed HEART STRING MARIONETTE

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

In 2007 after finished my first animated feature film We Are The Strange I got obsessed with Noh theater and 1960’s samurai movies so I decided to make a new film that dealt with these two obsessions at the time- The film was self financed other than about $2000 I got from fans who donated to the project- so the film was a “no budget” production- people have told me that my films look like they cost millions but they really only cost time- Once it was done I self released it on the internet and went on to make my next film I Am Nightmare. The film took four years and countless hours and days spent fussing over every little detail in it- I’m really proud of the finished film- though I’m a much better animator today so some of the animation makes me cringe.

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

It was a really strange set of circumstances that brought the film to the festival so its a bit of mixed emotions- the film’s original composer and another person I have never met actually took the film- cut out all sound but the music-made some minor edits and renamed the film “The Silent”. Without me knowing about it that film was entered and accepted into the Cinequest film festival here in my home town of San Jose- I eventually found about it and notified the festival- they pulled “The Silent” and replaced it with the actual original film “Heart String Marionette” Since it was so late in the process “The Silent” is what is listed in the film festival programs so I’m not sure anyone in my home town will know my film is playing haha. So if you see “The Silent” scheduled in the festival program that is really when “Heart String Marionette” plays.

3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making HEART STRING MARIONETTE.

Tie for best experience- The best experience was watching newly rendered scenes right after I had finished animating/rendering them- there’s no thrill quite like that so see your idea realized before you that you created with your own hands. The other best experience was hearing the reactions of the fans of my work on the film- it spoke to so many people on such a deep level- it was awesome to hear their feedback.

The worst experience was finding out a former collaborator and an unknown third party were taking credit for the film as their own and entering it into film festivals/shopping it around while I knew nothing about it.

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?

I believe film festivals should be places where you get to see things that you usually CAN’T see in the cinemas- so people should see my film IF they want to see something they have never seen before. Heart String Marionette is one third weird Japanese animation, one third 1960’s Samurai film and one third totally insane- so if that sounds interesting to you- you should come see the film on the big screen… its also REALLY REALLY creepy.

5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won the Oscar for HEART STRING MARIONETTE. Give us your acceptance speech.

You will die… inside.

See HEART STRING MARIONETTE at Cinequest!
View the trailer!
Follow them on Facebook!
Follow M dot Strange on Twitter!
Visit M dot Strange’s website!

SilentThe_1_1000x316

Kyle Steinbach, writer/director: BAD EXORCISTS

Kyle Steinbach, filmmaker: BAD EXORCISTS

Kyle Steinbach, filmmaker: BAD EXORCISTS

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

I don’t remember when the idea hit me, but when it did, it certainly had staying power. After my initial resistance, these silly teenage exorcists entrenched themselves in my brain, and I had no choice but to write the script. My producers helped develop the project with me over a year, and we shot the film during the summer of 2013.

Our financing consisted of friends, family, family friends, and people who believed in the us and our project. And not to mention our amazing Kickstarter backers who carried us through post-production. They’re all my superheroes. Seriously. They all wear spandex and capes and stuff. It’s weird.

2Q: Cinequest Film Festival is hosting the World Premiere of BAD EXORCISTS. 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?

I’m ecstatic and beyond thrilled for Cinequest. What more could I ask for? Free Chipotle for life? Ok. Yes. That would be nice too.

As for how people will react to the film…

Audiences will hate* it. They will throw tomatoes** at the screen, they will shower us in curses***, and we will depart San Jose as failures****.

* love
** roses
*** gold
**** kings

Honestly, though, I just hope people like it. I think it’s a lot of fun!

3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making BAD EXORCISTS?

My worst experience was when production ended. That was very sad. My second worst experience was when, on the last night of production, I ruined several expensive leather chairs due to a leaking pen in my back pocket. I must’ve sat on six different chairs in about 15 minutes. All ruined. It was like I was playing a game of musical chairs by myself. And I lost.

My best experience was banding together and staying up all night with these amazingly talented people for four weeks. It was like an exorcist-themed summer camp. I’ve never laughed more.

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?

If I was a film critic, this would be my review of Bad Exorcists:
“Bad Exorcists?? More like GREAT Exorcists, because this movie is great!!”

5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won the Oscar for BAD EXORCISTS. Give us your acceptance speech.

Bad Exorcists will certainly win an Oscar next year, so this is a good question, but, in the spirit of the film, I would like to propose an alternative Q:

Time to pre-plan: You just won the MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss for BAD EXORCISTS. Give us your acceptance speech:

*The crowd roars*

“Wow. Thank you. Thank you, teens. Please. Enough — Ok, yes, thanks again, I am the greatest. I didn’t kiss anyone in the film, so I don’t know why I won this award, but I’d like to thank everyone who believed in the project, and the countless people who pledged time and money to make it possible. It’s because of amazing, selfless people like you this film exists at all. And, of course, thanks, to the MTV Foreign Press Association. And, finally, last but not least, let’s not forget who this award is really about: this one’s for the teens.”

See BAD EXORCISTS at Cinequest!
View the trailer!
Follow them on Facebook!

BadExorcists_1_1000x316

Melissa Donovan, director: ZEMENE

M_Donovan_RT

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

I never set out to make a film in Ethiopia. Actually, I was working as a cinematographer on another project and following Dr Rick Hodes, a potential character in that film, when we bumped into Zemene on the street in Gondar, Ethiopia in 2007. Zemene was so fragile looking with a severely crooked spine, and this is what Dr Rick spotted as he crossed the street that day. Dr Rick Hodes is the medical director in Ethiopia for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and has spent a majority of his time helping rural children with crooked spines get medical care. This chance encounter really was a miracle; Zemene had just been told by the hospital that there was nothing anyone could do to help her. Zemene captured my attention from that first moment. Her spirit, her courage just radiated out of her beautiful smile, a stark contrast to her small, fragile frame. At that moment, Zemene took my hand, as I held the camera in my other hand, and took a piece of my heart. This serendipitous meeting confirmed for me that what’s in front of you is what you should focus on. I’ve never made a film before, only working as a camerawoman, but after meeting Zemene, I realized there was nothing better I could do with my life than to figure out how to share her story. And so that’s how this all began. This film was made over the course of 5 years. Initial funding was personal savings and then family and friends came on board. I was fortunate after production to get a foundation gift to get me through the majority of the editing. I’m still fundraising to help me with the marketing aspects as well as getting the film to festivals.

2Q: Zemene has done quite well at other film festivals. Will you be less nervous now at Cinequest? Does this process ever get any easier?

I’ve been in four festivals so far and they have all been wonderful experiences. I realize how much goes into putting a festival together now and I have so much respect for the people that are behind them. I am especially excited to attend Cinequest, it will be my California Premiere! The Cinequest team has been so organized and positive about “Zemene” that I’m just excited to be there!

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

My best experience was seeing Zemene turn into the amazing, inspiring young woman she is today. My other best experience was having the privilege of being around Dr Rick and realizing how much impact one person can have on another’s life.

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?

I would say that if you’re interested in seeing an amazing, inspiring true story and a glimpse of life in a beautiful part of the world that you probably haven’t seen, well this is the film you should check out. It also has great music!

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

I would like to thank the Academy for this incredible honor. Thank you to everyone who helped me bring Zemene’s story to the big screen. Thank you to Dr Rick Hodes and Menormelkam for giving a 2nd chance at life to a little girl who now wants to help others. And thank you to Zemene for never giving up on life.

See ZEMENE at Cinequest!
View the Trailer!
Follow them on Facebook!
Follow Melissa and the film on Twitter!

Zemene_1_1000x316

Artsalot

Your Arts & Culture Kingdom

theurv

I'm Just Me

PHIL'S FILM ADVENTURES

Reviews & Interviews from Bay Area Film Festivals

Cinebanter

Reviews & Interviews from Bay Area Film Festivals

Jason Watches Movies

Reviews & Interviews from Bay Area Film Festivals

Cinequesting

Reviews & Interviews from Bay Area Film Festivals