Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tower Theater's Open Screen Night Winners: May 2010

Posted By on June 15, 2010, 2:07 AM

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Last month the Tower Theater held another Open Screen Night event, their nearly bi-monthly mini-festival of short films submitted by local directors. May's showcase was packed with a filled theater and dozens of entries for people to check out. At the end of the night Chase Weston walked away with the Audience Choice award for "A Taste Of Love", Matt Barlow won the Critic's Choice award (picked by our own Scott Renshaw) for "Stuck", and Conor Long won the SLFS Choice award for his film "Sanctuary". Today we chat with all three men about their works and taking honors at the fest, along with their thoughts on local film. ---

Chase Weston

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Gavin: Hey Chase. First off, tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you got into filmmaking.

Chase: I've always loved movies. I started playing around with my parents' camcorder when I was about twelve. I forced my little sister and uncle to co-star with me and just started doing it for fun. Then in high school I took a media productions class and would run around terrorizing the town filming silly shorts almost every night. It was so much fun I always imagined doing it for a living and seeing one of my films on the big screen some day.
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Gavin: Did you seek out any college for film, and if so, what was that experience like for you?

Chase: After high school I focused on a computer science degree for a couple of years until I learned about this school in Sedona, Arizona called the Zaki Gordon Institute. My experience there was phenomenal. The first week of class we were shooting a movie. It was a one-year intensive course with a second year option. We would write, produce, shoot, edit and screen a new film every week and rotate through the positions on the crew. So we got a ton of experience. By the end of the first year we had all shot about fourteen short films. The professors are amazing too. They're all active, working professionals and the classes are small so you get these seasoned mentors all to yourself for a year. I am so grateful to have been able to attend the Zaki Gordon Institute. We lived and breathed film for nine months straight, fourteen hours or more a day.

Gavin: Do you think of yourself as more of an independent filmmaker or do you prefer to work with a group and form a production?

Chase: Honestly, I don't think a filmmaker can be successful without having a strong core group to work with. It's not a one man show. It's a total collaboration. "A Taste of Love" only happened because of the group I work with (SLIP) and their own dedication to the art. I'm happy for the attention - but I couldn't have done it without them. I consider myself an independent filmmaker because I make my movies for me. It's just something I love to do whether I get paid for it or not. I think that is the beauty of what we do. It's art driven by passion and love for the craft.
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Gavin: How did the concept for “A Taste Of Love” come about?

Chase: "A Taste of Love" was a concept pitched by Jesse Arboghast that everyone in SLIP seemed to dig, and the funny thing is - the pitch was quite different than what the actual film ended up being after our writers got a hold of it. We took the idea and saw potential for some great laughs - so we ran with it.

Gavin: Where did you end up finding the location for the initial landscapes and setup?

Chase: Our producer, Brian Higgins, suggested we shoot out at The Salt Aire. But after we got there, we wanted something more barren and just complete wasteland looking. So we drove up the road a ways more and stared out the window until my Director of Photography, Kori Moravec, said "Hey, how about that?" And well... that was that.
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Gavin: Was was it like on set during filming? And how long did it take you to film and then edit it up?

Chase: It was a blast! Our actors, Jenn Later Sinclair and Skip Warner, were so much fun and they put up with some pretty crazy requests from us. They had no idea what they were really in for until they arrived on set and we were like: "Okay.. now put this on... let Jack Diamond (our editor) cut up your clothes, then go roll around in the mud and come see Edgar Harwood and Kenyon Christian (grip and producer) so they can cover you in blood... theeennnn... you guys will be eating this nasty shit and making out." Haha! Everyone had a great time and it went really smooth. We shot the film in about six hours on a Saturday. Jack and I put a rough cut together by Tuesday and then screened the pre-festival release that next day at the Tower. All-in-all we spent a total of forty hours of actual production... give or take a few. It was a nice little ramp-up production to the 48 Hour Film Project coming up here in June.

Gavin: Any difficulties come up along the way or was it all pretty smooth?

Chase: It was smooth for the most part. There was a minute where I had to talk my crew into trespassing across a barricaded road in order to reach our location - but once everyone conceded to our producer Brian Higgins' coercions and realized government agents were, in fact, not on their way to tazer and arrest us, it was awesome.
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Gavin: What did people think of the film when you finally finished it?

Chase: When we were editing the film, we felt it was good but we were also aware that we might be too close to it. It was with a feeling of relief when we heard the audience react to our film. They laughed in all the right places and seemed to really dig it.

Gavin: How did you hear about Tower's Open Screen Night?

Chase: Brian Higgins brought it up the week before at our meeting. He insisted that we shoot the film before the screening the following week; that it would be a great experience and maybe get us some exposure... I guess he was right!
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Gavin: What was it like seeing it there and hearing the audience reaction to both?

Chase: I think anytime you're privileged to screen your work in front of an audience in a theater it's a magical thing. Then having your film so well received is another experience all together. I don't think we could have had a better initial screening than in a theater that exists to promote and support independent filmmakers like us. The Tower is a great theater and an amazing resource to filmmakers such as ourselves.

Gavin: At the end you won the Audience Choice award. How did it feel winning that and receiving that recognition?

Chase: None of us expected to win, especially since we missed the submission deadline and our film was not on the ballot. When we heard that we had won the Audience Choice award we were floored. To win, we had to have a majority vote with people writing our film's title on the ballot. To have the audience bestow that recognition on us is a real honor. It's always a fulfilling thing for a filmmaker to know their work is appreciated.
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Gavin: Putting you on the spot, what would you say are the top films that have had an influence on you?

Chase: I'm inspired by so many of all different genres. If I were being honest I would have to admit that comedies are heavily influential on me. Especially over the top goofy films like: "Ace Ventura Pet Detective", "Tommy Boy", "Happy Gilmore", "The Hangover", "Austin Powers" and movies like that.

Gavin: If you had to pick one, what director would you say was most influential on you?

Chase: Well if I had to pick ONE... I think it would be Steven Spielberg. "Jaws" traumatized me as a kid. I still can't go swimming nude in the early morning. And though it was due to a malfunction - I think I learned the most from that film about less being more. I've liked just about every film I've seen of his. They're really well done and entertaining... and that's really the point right? To entertain. To tell a good story... at least that's what it's about to me.
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Gavin: Going local, what’s your opinion of the local film scene, both good and bad?

Chase: I think I moved here just as things were starting to die down and then I got wrapped up with running my company for a couple years. This is actually the beginning of my re-introduction to the film community here in Utah. So far, so good. I think I lucked out finding the people I'm working with now, and everyone I've been meeting seems to be really excited and dedicated. I wish I could feed you a little more dirt for your readers to chew on, but the truth is - I just don't have any. Ask me again in a year.

Gavin: Anything you think could be done to make it bigger or better?

Chase: I'd like to see a major studio be built in Utah. Everyone would get more work and the quality of local filmmaker's productions would go up.
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Gavin: Any local directors you feel are at the top of their game?

Chase: I can only speak for the ones I've had an opportunity to work with. We have some great talent in SLIP, and I admire Brian Higgins' and Jack Diamond's directing style as well as Kori Moravec's Director of Photography work on our last project.

Gavin: Do you know what you’re doing for your next film, and what can we expect from you the rest of the year?

Chase: We have a full slate scheduled for the rest of the year. Several shorts are in pre-production and we are also ramping up for the festival circuit. We're also aiming to shoot a feature by the end of the year, so we have a lot to look forward to.
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Gavin: Finally, is there anything you’d like to promote or any final thoughts you wanna voice?

Chase: I think it's important to build recognition for the local talent we have here in Utah and to support the venues that support us. Nothing is better for that than competitions like the 48 Hour Film Project and the Tower Open Mic Nights. I would love to see more events like this taking place regularly around the state and more people actively participating in them. I also feel that groups like SLIP allow people with similar ideals and goals to get together and create some great pieces. If more people would get together in groups like ours just for the art and camaraderie, we could drive more high quality local productions to distribution resources.

Conor Long
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Gavin: Hey Conor. First off, tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you got into filmmaking.

Conor: Let's see. I suppose my largest interests involve traveling and film. I grew up with the greatest opportunities to travel. In my 22 years I have been to over 35 countries spanning Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, South and North America. This is what began my interest in both Asian Studies and Film. I have been making films since I was about ten years old, but it wasn’t until I became exposed to some very influential Asian filmmakers in high school, that my interests transformed into lifestyle. In short, I love traveling and I love filmmaking.

Gavin: You got your Bachelors from the U in Film & Media Arts. What made you choose the U, and how was that program like for you?

Conor: I grew up in Utah so going to the U was sort of just part of the plan all along. To be honest, I didn’t even apply to any other schools. I just always assumed that the U was good enough. The programs at the U turned out to be surprisingly good. There were some bumps in the road but in the end there are some really awesome professors up there. Some of the most inspiring people I know, and I definitely would not change a thing if I had it to do over again.
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Gavin: You also have a Bachelors in Asian Studies and a minor in Chinese. What influenced you to take up those courses.

Conor: As I mentioned earlier it was my love of traveling that led me to those courses. When I was in high school I became interested in Asia because I felt that there was no place on earth more different from home than China. The language, culture and food couldn’t have been more different and new to me. I loved it. Still do. All the time when I am over there I feel like a little kid again, as I am constantly finding new things that I don’t understand and have never seen before. But it wasn’t just my love of travel that led me to study the language and culture. Part of it was the Asian Cinema that I have been exposed to and have fallen in love with.

Gavin: Before this competition you completed your first full-length feature, “FateSpinner”. Tell us a bit about that film, and how was it for you creating and filming that?

Conor: Creating "FateSpinner" was one of the best times of my life. The production got so much bigger than we had planned which led to one crazy ass week. We wound up with a one-ton grip truck, we were shooting on the RED ONE and we had about six days to shoot the whole thing. Through countless setbacks and a few close calls with the authorities we wound up with an 80 minute feature film that holds a special place in my heart. We pushed ourselves to the limit with two 12 hour days, two 17 hour days, and a 24 hour day, but we had a hell of a time making that movie and I think (hope) everyone involved had a blast. The film is a dark story about an AP high school student who meets a mysterious drifter that slowly destroys the kids life as it spirals out of control. It is touring festivals right now and hopefully will get a few screenings in Salt Lake.
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Gavin: Do you prefer to work by yourself or with a group as a complete production?

Conor: There is nothing I love more than getting a great group of fun people together and making a movie. We all had so much fun shooting "FateSpinner" and it led me to a conclusion that I stick by. If you aren’t having fun making your movie, then why are you making a movie? Its gotta be fun and it is just more fun with a group of good people. If I could have made "Sanctuary" with other people, I would have, but it just seemed like this particular animation was a somewhat personal experience.

Gavin: How did the concept for “Sanctuary” come about?

Conor: A big part of the concept for "Sanctuary" came from my job. I am, and have been for many years, a projectionist. I have worked as a projectionist at Redstone Theaters in Park City, and I have been working at the Salt Lake Film Society for even longer. It came from my love of the ancient Tower theater and the idea that everybody needs a sanctuary, some place that you can go to get away from the world. I just liked the idea of a man as old as the theater he works in, finding his sanctuary in the projection booth where he can find peace even though he is usually carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.
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Gavin: Was was it like on set during filming? And how long did it take you to film and then edit it up?

Conor: Making "Sanctuary" was a giant pain in the ass. It was fun, and I would happily make an animation again, but it definitely came with its tribulations as well. Hand drawing every frame and background, scanning, Photoshoping, animating, editing. Needless to say, it took a while. Personally, I enjoy animation just as much, if not more than live action cinema, so it was very fun for me, especially since this was my first one.

Gavin: Any difficulties come up along the way or was it all pretty smooth? And what did people think of the film when you finally finished it?

Conor: Anytime I use a computer for any reason ever there are difficulties. Computers and I don’t get along and when I spend so much time using Photoshop and aftereffects, of course problems came up. However the movie is pretty small so nothing to dramatic happened during the creation. I think people like the film for the most part. My favorite part is the music to be honest. A friend of my, Ryan Hunter, composed the music for it and he knows his stuff. I think he nailed the weirdness and mood I was going for. If anybody ever needs a composer, arranger, or anything, Ryan is your man.
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Gavin: How did you hear about Tower's Open Screen Night?

Conor: I have been there since the beginning. I have been working for the SLFC for about four years and have been to the majority of the Open Screen Nights since it was started. I wonder if people will think I had an influence on winning the Film Society award because I work there. Who knows?

Gavin: What was it like seeing it there and hearing the audience reaction to both?

Conor: It was fine. I think I screwed up exporting it because the film was way too bright, but the YouTube version looks much better. I usually have a hard time being around people watching my films, so to be honest I wasn’t in the theater really.
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Gavin: At the end you won the SLFS Choice award. How did it feel winning that and receiving that recognition?

Conor: I was kind of surprised to win actually, but I guess they enjoyed seeing one of the SLFS venues in an animation.

Gavin: Putting you on the spot, what would you say are the top films that have had an influence on you?

Conor: The most influential films for me are the contemporary films coming out of Asia. There were a few filmmakers from Taiwan in the early 90’s (Hou Hsiao Hsien, Tsai Ming Liang, Edward Yang etc.) that were making these wonderful new wave films that I fell in love with. Since then I have been fascinated with Chinese cinema and more recently the films coming out of South Korea. I continue to be astounded by what I see from South Korea and I can’t recommend some of those filmmakers enough. There is one film that came out this year that blew me away and, to this date, has been probably the most unique film I have ever seen. The film is Gaspar Noe’s new number called "Enter The Void". I just have to mention it because I feel it is one of the most important films I have ever seen, and it demonstrated what terrible power a film can actually have over its audience.
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Gavin: If you had to pick one, what director would you say was most influential on you?

Conor: An easy question for me. It was when I really started studying film that I got really into Korean cinema and found a director named Kim Ki-Duk. He has made many films including "3-Iron; Spring", "Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring", "Samaritan Girl" and "Time". Absolutely beautiful films. They changed my life and the way I think about filmmaking.

Gavin: Going local, what’s your opinion of the local film scene, both good and bad?

Conor: The local film scene is interesting. For one month out of the year our film scene becomes the biggest deal in the world, but for the rest of the time it seems a little slow. The locations here are so diverse. I love how one minute you can be shooting a scene that takes place in New York, then shoot a scene in Alaska, then a scene in the middle of the desert, then shoot a scene in the ocean or on the moon. And you can do all that within a thirty-minute drive from downtown. It’s pretty wild. However, there doesn’t seem to be that much going on for most of the year. I just appreciate the windfall that is the Film Society and its ability to bring in foreign and independent cinema. Without them, we wouldn’t have any good films coming through the valley.
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Gavin: Anything you think could be done to make it bigger or better?

Conor: I think we just need to keep on doing what we are doing and allow Sundance to seep more into the local film culture. There are great things going on and maybe with time, they could grow into something big.

Gavin: Any local directors you feel are at the top of their game?

Conor: There is a young man who is currently attending the film department at the University named Phillip Clark Davis. He shows the most potential and passion out of any of the local directors I have seen. He time after time creates these huge short films that, whether they fail miserably or succeed, show his ability as a filmmaker. He is so persistent and by the time the credits are rolling on his film that you just watched, he is well into pre-production on the next project. Keep your eye on that kid. He is going places.
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Gavin: Do you know what you’re doing for your next film, and what can we expect from you the rest of the year?

Conor: I have all my chips in my next project. My crew and I have been in pre-production on our next feature film for almost a year now. We have a really tight script for a film that takes place in Taiwan and we are in the fund-raising stage of that adventure. I couldn’t be more excited for it. The screenplay is the best one we have ever worked on and I think people are really going to like it. It is pretty big and we are currently budgeted around $250,000. So if anybody really liked my animation and wants to help donate/produce an awesome feature in Taipei, let me know.

Gavin: Finally, is there anything you’d like to promote or any final thoughts you wanna voice?

Conor: I just want to promote the hell out of our Taiwan movie. We are currently looking for a budget and if there are any kind City Weekly readers that are interested in helping fund this awesome independent film, please give me a call 435-901-2379. This city could use a hugely successful independent film. It might just help make the local film scene a little bit bigger.

Matt Barlow
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Gavin: Hey Matt. First off, tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you got into filmmaking.

Matt: Shh! Don't tell anyone my name is Matt! Most people call me by my last name, Barlow, something that started in 7th grade. Half of my close friends didn't even know my first name for over a year after meeting me. So we'll keep this our little secret, just you, me, and City Weekly. All my life, ever since I was a little kid, there's been something that fascinated me about cameras. As I got into middle school, I made films with the help of neighborhood kids on one of those old VHS cameras, and would edit them using just about the most primitive possible method in the world: I had a dual tape VCR, and I would put the original footage in one slot, a fresh tape in the other, and record everything over to the second tape, pausing it at any point where I wanted to cut out shots/splice a scene in. Due to this, shall we say, inconsistent method of splicing, it produced a ton of awkward, "snowball" static fuzz scene changes that would cut in several seconds too early or too late, or even show a few seconds of a random basketball game that I was recording over. Oh man, now those were the days! Any time I was given a big school project, and making a film was one of the options for completing it, I always wanted to do that. It seemed totally illogical to me that anyone else would choose another option, such as writing a paper, or designing a picture collage. Really, how boring is that? As I got older, the equipment available to me got slightly better, and by the time I was out of high school, I was making a full-fledged movie with my friends, called "Fashion" that we actually premiered at the Tower Theatre back in ... '05 or '06. I say "full-fledged movie" with a little trepidation, as it was a collection of stunts, skits, and pranks that some could possibly call a knockoff of "Jackass". It was more of a chronicling of what were a couple of the greatest years of my life so far. Definitely fun to watch. After "Fashion", I began creating more story-based skits that actually had loose scripts, and, this is where you and I meet right now, with me in the process of obtaining more knowledge, experience, better equipment, and having a blast throughout the whole process.
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Gavin: Did you seek out any college for film, and if so, what was that experience like for you?

Matt: I have never had any formal training up to this point. My brother gave me a really short book that he got for a college film class, it goes over the bare bones of filming theory, I soaked up as much as I can from it. Aside from that, I've had to learn everything else on my own, from screenwriting to editing. I still consider myself a newbie at a lot of it, and am always looking for ways to improve. It's funny you should ask that question, though. The first time I ever looked into film school was after I made "Stuck" and won 2nd place at the X96 Film Festival. It just hit me when they announced my name, and I had a huge "Holy crap, I might actually have more of a future with this! Maybe I should check out schools" moment. The next week I went in to the Art Institute of Salt Lake City, to look into moving forward with this whole "further education" thing I've heard so much about. I had a great time meeting with the people there, and got really excited to start learning in-depth film techniques and theory. After a tour of the facility, the recruiter went over the financing papers, where I glanced at the price tag. My eyes widened to the size of grapefruits, I thanked her kindly, and left. Yea right, like I can afford that! Besides, I feel that it's more WHO you know, rather than WHAT you know in the film industry, and apparently I'm going to need alternative methods to meeting other people as excited about film as I am.

Gavin: Do you think of yourself as more of an independent filmmaker or do you prefer to work with a group and form a production?

Matt: This is really a double-edged sword for me, because I love people, I love being involved in a fun group, and I would say I'm a "social butterfly" if the term didn't sound so horridly effeminate. Let's use a new term. How about... Social Machine Gun! Yea, I'm a social machine gun, that's way more awesome! However, I'm a big control freak with my movies. I have to do all the "managerial" things myself, or I won't like the way it comes out. Since I usually am not sure what I want the final product to look like, if I'm not directing and editing the whole thing myself, then it won't come out very well. That said, I do really enjoy when someone wants to collaborate with me, I'm always game to participate in a joint venture, and swap ideas with anyone who has the same passion as me! It's also nice to help out with someone else's ideas, and not have to worry about all the things involved in the process of making a movie. On a sidenote, I like using the term "flick" instead of "movie". I don't know why, but it sounds more artsy to me. Don't you agree? From here on out I'm incorporating the word "flick". Oh yea, I'm cultured!
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Gavin: How did the concept for “Stuck” come about?

Matt: I heard from a friend that Radio From Hell was hosting a film festival around the theme "Things That Must Go". This presented a golden opportunity to me, because it combined the two things I love most in the world: Making flicks, and bitching about things that piss me off. While brainstorming, I originally decided to make the flick about the hassles of a self-checkout at the grocery store. You all know you've been there: the stupid machine won't scan, or the bagging scale doesn't read right, and then the creepy robot lady voice tells you an associate has to "assist you" anyway, but they don't walk over for five minutes while you stand there awkwardly waiting, yada yada yada. Problem was, I couldn't find any store that would let me film there, much less if I tried to explain what the flick would be about. They all thought it would be "bad publicity", which is true, but that won't stop me from thinking they were jerks. So once that idea got solidly shot down, I decided I really liked the basic principle of somebody going through hell while doing something mundane, without a lot of dialogue, and some fun physical comedy. After that, all it took was my daily drive to work, where I frequently run into my arch nemesis stoplight in Jordan Landing that is ALWAYS red! After sitting for a full two minutes with no cars, pedestrians, or hope in sight, an idea was born. It wound up being the light I used in the final cut, too. I hate that freaking light, by the way.

Gavin: Considering it was for the RFH festival, how long did it originally take you from idea and filming to final edit?

Matt: I found out about the contest a week before it was happening, so I had to make the flick pretty fast. I spent a day or two brainstorming, and after the self-checkout idea didn't pan out, I had four days left, so I spent three nights shooting, and one day editing. Since it was so rushed, I felt like the copy I submitted to RFH was rushed and choppy. Like I mentioned before, I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so I kept editing and changing little things, and by the time this Open Screen Night rolled around, it was the 6th version of the film I'd made. If I hadn't changed anything, I don't think I would have felt right submitting the exact same film to both competitions.
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Gavin: Any difficulties come up along the way or was it all pretty smooth?

Matt: It was a little hard to find people to film with me, since I had to do it at 2AM, to make sure that there would be no traffic at the light. I got my girlfriend to be the driver of the car for most of the shots, so I could be behind the camera, it was interesting to do, we were there for over two hours getting all the outside shots we needed, and kept having to make U-turns every time a car pulled up behind mine, then reset to keep shooting. All of the shots where you can see my face were actually done in my driveway, so I had to figure out a way to make the background look like I was sitting at the light, that was tricky, and I wound up going back to the location for some new footage after the RFH festival. Oh, yea, here is the dumbest thing to happen while shooting: So there I was at 3AM, the temperature felt like, -50, I'm freezing my nips off, standing in the middle of the intersection and holding my tripod as high as I can for a close-up of the red light, when a cop sees me, and pulls up. After asking what would posses me to be to be out at this hour, I explained the skit, and asked if he'd oblige me by flashing his lights on my car. I pleaded with the fuzz, told him that I wouldn't even need his car in the shot, it would take about two minutes, and he still said no. What a dink.

Gavin: What was the reaction to it when you first showed it, and how did it do in the original competition?

Matt: Two words: Awe some! It was interesting to hear the audience reaction, they weren't sure it was supposed to be a comedy or a serious skit at first, and they didn't want to be rude. However, after about 30 seconds, the laughter kept getting louder throughout, and by the time it was over, it seemed that everyone was laughing right where I was hoping they would. It's really cool to hear strangers enjoying your hard work, I can't tell you how scary it is not knowing if you've made a movie that will be liked by everyone, or only by your friends and family, 'cause that happens A LOT (ie: every YouTube video shot with a webcam). As far as the original competition, I wound up winning 2nd place, and that was a huge surprise to me, even more so when I found out that the winning film was something with a $1000 plus budget, really nice equipment, and was started way before the festival was even announced. My flick had a budget of about $10 (I needed some cellophane to cover my lighting rig), was shot with a little handycam, and thrown together in a couple days. So coming in for a close second to a film of that caliber is hunkydorey by me. That's right, I just said hunkydorey. Don't be surprised if I say "swell" at some point, either!
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Gavin: What was the overall experience like for you in seeing your work along side other filmmakers?

Matt: Two words: Awe Some! ...Wait, I already said that before, huh. It's extremely nerve-racking, honestly. As I'm very new to the local film scene, I had no idea if my entry would hold a candle to the other films. At the RFH Festival, my heart was beating out of my chest, and I was sweating like a fat lady in church. It was an odd sensation to have such stage-fright, when I wasn't even physically getting on a stage. I mean, I didn't get nearly that nervous when I tried my hand at stand-up comedy! ...Possibly because there were a lot more people at the film screenings. Also, I had a square metric ton of caffeine beforehand, that may have been a factor. I did enjoy watching all the other filmmakers' work alongside mine, because while I still don't know most of them, these are my homies.

Gavin: How did you hear about Tower's Open Screen Night?

Matt: I subscribed to the SLFS email newsletter, which lets you know about all the going-ons at the Tower, including new showings and competitions. Hint hint, wink wink, nudge nudge! ...That's me subtly telling you to go to their site and sign up too.
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Gavin: What was it like seeing it in that competition and hearing the audience reaction to both?

Matt: There's nothing quite like seeing your hard work put up on a big screen, and hearing the audience really responding to, and enjoying it. It's one of the best feelings in the world. Well, right next to landing an attractive woman at a fancy club, of course.

Gavin: At the end you won the Critic's Choice award. How did it feel winning that and receiving that recognition?

Matt: I'm really stoked that I won Critic's Choice, because to me, that's the "gold medal" of the awards. The Audience Choice can be more of a popularity contest of who brought the most friends, though I must say that the winning film in that category was funny as hell, and definitely deserved it. The SLFS Pick was also very fitting, as it featured the Tower Theatre... never say it doesn't help to pander to the judges! Lots of work obviously went into both other films, and I'm very happy with all the results.
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Gavin: Putting you on the spot, what would you say are the top films that have had an influence on you?

Matt: Hmm, so here's where I could list all my favorite movies, right? No, that would take too long. The biggest influences to me were probably the "Airplane!" movies, along with "The Naked Gun" trilogy. I have a big soft spot for Leslie Nelson movies, and the old ridiculous comedies.

Gavin: If you had to pick one, what director would you say was most influential on you?

Matt: I'd say Trey Parker. I love all his ideas, and the way that he's so blunt and no-holds-barred with all his movies. His comedic timing is impeccable too, and I kind of idolize the guy. If I could have lunch with any celebrity, past or present, it would be him and Matt Stone. That would be my dream to chat and swap ideas with those guys. They're proof that you can make it in the film industry if you have enough drive and ambition. Oh, and whoever directed "Death To Smoochy". He's a genius, too.
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Gavin: Going local, what’s your opinion of the local film scene, both good and bad?

Matt: The good: If there was no local film scene, you would not be reading this article, soaking in every superfluous word I say. So it's good that there is a local scene. The bad: I don't know most of the people involved, but I want to get more into it and meet with other people as excited about films as I am.

Gavin: Anything you think could be done to make it bigger or better?

Matt: Definitely more events like the Open Screen Night, and other chances for filmmakers to get together and share ideas. Also, it wouldn't hurt to serve banana cream pies at the theatre. I think lots more people would come if there was free pie. Oh, and lasagna! Who doesn't love lasagna? Just a thought, I hope they consider it.
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Gavin: Any local directors you feel are at the top of their game?

Matt: I'm not too familiar with most people involved, but there's at least one dude who works at the Tower that seems like he'd be fun to collaborate with. I forget his name, cause I'm terrible with them, but I'd like to make a movie with that guy. Wow, I wish I didn't have to be so vague right now. Freakin' ADD.

Gavin: Do you know what you’re doing for your next film, and what can we expect from you the rest of the year?

Matt: I've got a few ideas I'm mulling over, including a silent first-person flick that's about a dim-witted killer, and a stop-motion puppet short making fun of Twilight. I'm super pumped for that one.
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Gavin: Finally, is there anything you’d like to promote or any final thoughts you wanna voice?

Matt: Be sure to check out my YouTube page! I'm still uploading all my videos to it, so if you check back frequently, I should have new ones being put up fairly regularly. Also, if anyone out there is wanting to help fund my little movies, then I definitely wouldn't turn that down. Anyone? Yes, you, Mr. Producer, I'm talking to you! Or maybe a sponsor to help get started in film college? Hmm? Really, anyone who wants to contact me, feel free to on my YouTube page, to swap ideas, chat, or whatever! Aside from my shameless self-plugging, I'd like to thank all my friends who help out with my flicks, I couldn't do it without you! Lastly, let me leave you with a quote that's worthy of anyone who likes who they are: "I'd call myself a narcissist, but I don't agree with its negative connotation". Oh yeah. Bamf.

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Gavin Sheehan

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