Tower Theater's September Open Screen Winners | Buzz Blog

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tower Theater's September Open Screen Winners

Posted By on October 12, 2009, 1:44 AM

  • Pin It
    Favorite

A few weeks ago the Tower Theater held their 12th Open Screen Night film festival for local filmmakers to showcase their work. Heavy competition this month as pros have recently been bringing some of their best to the competition. At the end of the night Kelsey Landry walked away with the Audience Selection Award for her film “The Date”, while Christopher Stephenson was awarded the Judge's Selection Award for his film “Coffee Connection.” I got a chance to chat with both of the film’s directors about their work, the experience at Open Screen, thoughts on filming in general, and some other topics that came to mind. ---

Kelsey Landry

http://www.indystarproductions.com/

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

Kelsey: I'm 26, and I've wanted to be a film director since I was 13 years old. I grew up in Seattle, on Vashon Island. I came to the University of Utah for their film program, Sundance, and snowboarding. I started internships with film production companies my sophomore year and by the time I graduated I was working full time as a Production Coordinator both in Utah and Los Angeles. I've continued my career in film production and now work as a Production Supervisor/UPM.

Gavin: You graduated from the U doing film studies. What was that experience like for you, and how is their program up there?

Kelsey: I had a great time at the U. I liked how small the classes were and I was able to get into the upper level advanced classes, including 16mm. They were also very helpful in letting me get some credits through internships which helped me tremendously to land a job after graduating. I also really enjoyed directing my senior project, “Spermasaurus Rex & The Great Race.” It was really funny at the time and looking back now, I think I've grown a lot!

Gavin: What was it like for you setting up your own production company?

Kelsey: Pretty easy, I had a lot of help and support from the people I work with. I just needed a brand name people could associate with me and my work. My cat's name is 'Indy' and my first dog's name was 'Star' so there it was! It's kinda like when you make your porn name with the street you grew up on and your first pet's name... ha ha.

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

Kelsey: I love working with other people. I know that some things that makes me laugh, won't necessarily make anyone else laugh and I need people that can tell me that. I also know that my knowledge is limited and I like to be able to trust others for what they are good at.

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

Kelsey: My boyfriend's sister works at a floral shop and lost her wedding ring once. She and the other workers were laughing about 'what if' someone found the ring in their bouquet. Her brother, co-writer Bruce Daniels turned the idea into a short screenplay. I got a hold of it, re-wrote some of it and shot it.

Gavin: Was was it like on set during filming? And how long did it take you to film and then edit it up?

Kelsey: We shot for two days and it was so much fun! We prepped for about a month beforehand, all with people volunteering their time, including Producer Terry Spazek. The crew was amazing because we were all friends and had worked on a bunch of bigger projects together. It was nice to have the opportunity to make our own thing for fun, for once. We used my house for both the boy's and the girl's apartments. Huddart Floral Company donated their space for the opening, and we shot at Liberty Park for the date portion. It was really a product of this film community's generosity. People heard what we were doing and wanted to either help out or donate equipment. Fisk Productions even gave us a jib! Editing was donated by Savage Pictures, with editor Steve Haugen. That took another two months with color correction and sound mixing. I am so grateful for everyone's help and never could have done it without them.

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

Kelsey: Strangely enough, it's as if the stars aligned. No one was working because the film business here just died all at once. People were bored and willing to help out. We got our first choice on every crew member and location. Films don't usually happen like that. It was strange and amazing. I'll never forget the experience.

Gavin: When you finished the film and finally showed it to people what was the general reaction to it at first?

Kelsey: The first place we showed it was at Diva's Meet The Filmmaker series. It happened really fast, and wasn't even quite finished so I was nervous. Then, people laughed in the right places, and got the ending, which is my biggest fear. It was such a relief! I was shaking during the screening, I was not prepared for how nerve racking it would be. Then we got to do a really fun cast and crew screening at Brewvies, who also donated their space, with a packed theater of everyone that worked on it and friends. That was a great feeling to hear them laugh.

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

Kelsey: Facebook, through the Film Society.

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

Kelsey: It was really fun! I wasn't really sure how it would all work, and didn't even know there was a contest. I was very relieved when people laughed. It wasn't any less nerve-racking than the first time. I really liked seeing some of the other shorts too, its been awhile since I've seen locally made stuff. I was cracking up at the beer one.

Gavin: At the end you won Audience's Selection award. How did it feel winning that award?

Kelsey: Great! It was our first real public screening, and to get an award makes me more confident in the film, and excited about hopefully getting into other festivals. I'm glad people like it!

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

Kelsey: "The Usual Suspects" and "Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade." I love films that everyone can enjoy but the more you get into it, the more you get out of it. I don't want to make films that only filmmakers will enjoy, I want to make films that anyone can enjoy. I named my cat and dogs Indy, Ana and Jones.

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

Kelsey: Probably Alfred Hitchcock or Bryan Singer. I love that Alfred Hitchcock had a way to scare people without using all the shock and gore that we have today. I wrote my college thesis about that.

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

Kelsey: I think the crew here is some of the best anywhere. I've worked in Seattle and Los Angeles and the crew in Utah is better in my opinion. It's a close-knit community and people take care of one another. It's a testament to this crew base if you look at trying to shoot a short film for no money in Los Angeles. There is no way we could have gotten the talent and equipment we got here, in Los Angeles.

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

Kelsey: Recently its been really tough because the amount of films shooting in Utah has dropped. We need to do something to keep the films coming here, making the incentive more producer-friendly or having more help going to Los Angeles and getting producers to come here. It's such a great place to shoot, if more producers could see our locations and meet our crew I think we'd have a ton of films here. Once people shoot in Utah, they usually come back for more, a lot of people move here after they work here.

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

Kelsey: The gang known as 14341 are getting some great music videos out there, recently they were at Temecula Film Festival. Jack Allred is another great cinematographer/editor/director that has a ton of talent. The DP for “The Date”, Rick Page from Trackstar Entertainment, he just won some awards too, for his directed short “The Adventures Of Dash Dawson.”

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

Kelsey: I'm hoping to get a comedy feature script into development and raise some money to get it made. I really like doing comedies, I think that's where I'm going to focus my attention. I'm also hopeful to get “The Date” shown around the US at some festivals. Anyone who has a comedy script they'd like to get made, I'd love to read it!

Gavin: Anything you’d like to promote or any final thoughts you wanna voice?

Kelsey: Check out The Best of Open Screen Night on Dec 9th at the Tower of course! I can't post the whole film yet because it disqualifies it for some festivals as having an 'internet release' Check out “The Date” on IMDb and Facebook
, and check out the trailer on the website!


Christopher Stephenson

http://www.myspace.com/beetlebusfilms

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

Christopher: As a kid, I was always making home made movies with my brothers and friends. In high school I got involved with more of the technical stuff, editing and sound. It's easy to be creative when you just love doing something. Recently I have teamed up with Troy Taylor and Andrew Jensen from Snappoint Productions. I do a live sketch show, Sketchophrenia, with them as well as short films. Coffee Connection was out first collaboration. I think Coffee Connection was when we realized we need to start writing and working together on everything.

Gavin: Did you seek any college for film or jump straight into making them yourself?

Christopher: I am a film student drop out. Which doesn't bother me. I personally feel that making film and getting experience is more valuable than a Film School Degree. It would be nice to hang on the wall though. I have a lot of bare walls that could use something hung on them. Andrew and Troy are the same way. We just want to knock out good films and hit the festivals.

Gavin: What was it like for you setting up Beetle Bus Films?

Christopher: Beetle Bus Films is something I started myself. The name comes from my obsessions with old Volkswagens. After I finished my first short film, I realized I needed to put a company name on it. It started out as just a name. I now have it under a business license to make it official.

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

Christopher: Before I teamed up with Andrew and Troy from Snappoint, I always worked solo. I hadn't found a good chemistry with any other writers that were doing film. Since we made “Coffee Connection”, we have worked on so many other projects.

Gavin: Speaking of, how did the concept for “Coffee Connection” come about?

Christopher: “Coffee Connection” was our first project together. We had entered the 24 Hour Film Festival in January last year. We had never written or produced anything together. We figured it would be a good way to see if we could work together under pressure. Making a film is stressful. Especially under a time restraint you are really stressed. We had to write, produce, shoot, edit, score and turn in out film all within 24 hours. They gave you topics, props and lines of dialog that you had to incorporate so there wasn't any pre-production going on. The film had to be no less than two minutes and no more than three minutes. We had a flawless shoot. With roughly two hours to spare. We edited a three minute version of the film just for the festival. We had shot enough footage to make a seven minute version of the film. That is the final “Coffee Connection.” We won an Honorable Mention at the festival with the three minute version. The seven minute version just seems more complete. We are really proud of that film. It's shot well, it sounds good, it has a beginning middle and end, and you actually see yourself invested in the characters. If we could make a film like “Coffee Connection” under 24 hours. We knew we had a lot of potential working with each other.

Gavin: Was was it like on set during filming? And how long did it take you to film and then edit it up?

Christopher: The atmosphere on set was great. It was stressful, but in a good motivating way. We all can throw in an idea, and we can just pick the best idea. There wasn't any egos. It was just a great creative flow. The fact that we worked so well under pressure and did it all under 24 hours. Then when we screened it, people seemed to really accept it and laugh along with it. It was awesome.

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

Christopher: It was honestly, one of the smoothest film shoots I have ever worked on. I have worked on sets of multi million dollar movies as a grip, and those didn't even run as smooth as this one. We had the basic kinks, but nothing we couldn't straighten out.

Gavin: When you finished the film and finally showed it to people what was the general reaction to it at first?

Christopher: We have screened it a few times since we screened it at 24 Hour. People genuinely like this film, we get the most compliments on it.

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

Christopher: Andrew and Troy had screened a film there earlier this year called “The Snowman.” We saw another Open Screen Night coming up, we jumped at the chance.

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

Christopher: It's really exciting sitting in the audience and watching and listening to people's immediate reaction to your film. It's nerve racking. I love that feeling.

Gavin: At the end you won the Judge's Selection award. How did it feel for you winning?

Christopher: I was honestly very surprised. I have confidence in our work, but there was some other really good films that night. Utah's film scene is getting more and more experienced. I love the fact that almost every film I watched that night, I genuinely liked.

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

Christopher: Utah's film scene is growing so fast. Thanks to support from organizations like Spy Hop, and Salt Lake Film Society. Websites like Funny Or Die. People have a way to show their films. It makes people make quality stuff. When you have the pressure from an audience reaction. You want to make it look, sound, good. With a plot. The fact that the tower is letting locals screen their own films. It's probably the best thing to happen to the film scene. Posting your film online for people to view is one thing, but screening it on a big screen in front of a live audience will really let you know if you are good at what you are trying to do.

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

Christopher: Andrew Jensen and Troy Taylor with Snappoint. Sean Bagley keeps coming out with good stuff and getting award recognition. Michael Cox has done some well thought out stuff.

Gavin: What would you say are the top films that have had an influence on you?

Christopher: “One Hour Photo” with Robin Williams is a brilliantly shot film. It has color themes, lighting themes. It is amazing. I love the weirdness of old Steve Martin movies, “The Jerk”, and “The Man With Two Brains” are hilarious and really creatively out there. Jared Hess is a pioneer with his style. “Napoleon Dynamite”, sparked a indie trend like no other. People have mimicked his style ever since that film hit the screen. I love the movie Seven, David Fincher is amazing with lighting and editing. He works really close with the cinematographer to get the look he wants. “Funny Games”, an indie that originally came from Germany, is a slap in the face to the Hollywood cut film and really steps out of the box. This list could be endless. That is what is so cool about film. The limits aren't there. You can create anything you want.

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

Christopher: David Fincher for the darker films. I really want to create a dark film that pushes boundaries. Jared Hess for comedic quality. His eye for subtle yet hilarious is genius.

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

Christopher: Andrew, Troy and myself are currently working on multiple projects. Sketchophrenia, our live sketch show is currently out main focus. We have put everything into this show. We write and perform live sketches, stand up, improv comedy. We also screen our short films through out the show while costume and set changes are going on. We have really studied other sketch shows structures. “Mr. Show” from David Cross and Bob Odenkirk has always been a huge inspiration to do our own sketch show. We loved how Mr. Show was a seamless show that used all types of media. Live onstage stuff as well as film. The way the mesh it all together is brilliant. That's what we have set out to do with Sketchophrenia. Live onstage stuff, and screen out shorts. Halloween weekend is something we are really looking forward to. We have written a Halloween themed Sketchophrenia. During this weekend we will also be premiering the first episode of our new webseries, "Omerta." This is our latest film project, a mafia based comedy, where the main character inherits the family business of the mafia. He teams up with his best friend and create a new mafia. The first episode revolves around them making their first hit list. Let's just say the list includes a gay Mexican prostitute named Chalula. People can see Sketchophrenia's Halloween Show and the first episode of Omerta, and “Coffee Connection 2” which is a live sketch version. October 29th , 30th and 31st at Wiseguys Trolley Square.

Gavin: Anything you’d like to promote or any final thoughts you wanna voice?

Christopher: All of our short films will soon be available on a compilation, Sketchophrenia DVD that will be available at the live shows at Wiseguys.

Tags: , , ,

More by Gavin Sheehan

  • Gavin's Underground: End Of An Era

    Nine and a half years of local entertainment blogging comes to an end.
    • May 26, 2017
  • Torris Fairley

    A quick interview with the up-and-coming SLC-based comedian.
    • May 25, 2017
  • Cirque Asylum

    A look into the dance school teaching unique forms of aerial arts.
    • May 24, 2017
  • More »

Latest in Buzz Blog

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

© 2018 Salt Lake City Weekly

Website powered by Foundation