GS: What was the inspiration for your film?
RE: I was presented with this monologue based on Martin Niemöller’s, “First They Came…” written by the lead actor, Adam S. Ford.
GS: When did you conceive the idea for your film and how long did it take before it was realized?
RE: My first reaction was to turn this into a screenplay with the title, “STOLPERSTEIN”, where two actors could build a conflict of interest around an art installation, in commemoration of a hero who sacrificed his life to protect the victims of the Germany’s Nazi Regime during World War II. With Stolperstein, Adam S. Ford (co-producer) and I were challenged by a glimpse of an idea. We then, wanted to find a way to turn it into something exciting through an innovative storytelling short, with the hopes of, somehow, allowing the film to find its own genre to entertain, motivate and inspire its audiences. With our limited resources and next-to-no budget, we didn’t want to wait for the perfect situation, but to allow the little we had to work with, become the perfect outcome! We spent two weeks in Pre-production and half a day of shooting.
GS: What was the most challenging aspect of working in a short film format?
RE: Trying to write the screenplay as short as possible. Thus bringing the production costs down. I have a strong background in Post-Production. So this also, helped keep the budget down. We had a small group of graduates from the Colorado Film School who we managed to feed well, without making too much of a dent on the budget. Nevertheless, my fear was their experience versus delivering a film that could look high-end enough to compete on the festival circuit. The risk was working a cheap budget, but making sure the film didn’t end up looking cheap! So, my challenge was how do I create real emotion in just a few minutes?
As a film director and artist, I have always preferred leaning towards bodies of work that illustrate the exploration of the social, philosophical evocations to emote human sufferings, feelings of being violated and ways to motivate moral correctives. So, capturing the audience with a visual melody, without hammering them over the head with the obvious, would be the film-form of choice.
GS: What was the most challenging aspect of your production?
RE: This subject matter needed archival material to take our audiences back to Nazi Germany, during World War II. Without having the extra costs to acquire those visual references of the Jewish plight, under Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany or, footage of Neo-Nazi groups victimizing ethnicity in America, I felt the message might fall short and the film would end up looking amateurish. I felt the audience might not get the meaning or feel satisfied at the end of the film, as I wanted to show and not tell. Although, it becomes obvious, that his granddaughter exits the screen, at the end, as a ghost-like memory in his imagination, the challenging, for me, was to leave the audience with a socio-political message that could truly be felt in a deep place. How could I make the world our main character (Frank) and this very short story feel authentic?
GS: Do you have any advice for first-time filmmakers?
RE: Finding your voice may, sometimes, require more of a hands-on experience, in every aspect of the first-time filmmaker’s process. Start with very short projects that express one concept or idea that maintains a clear through-line plot. The first-time filmmaker will need to make sure their ending is coherent with story of their film. Don’t get restricted by film market interests or allow yourself to be overwhelmed by opinionated film veterans, who may hinder your creative identity. Research your competition before submitting your works into the festival circuit. Ensure that your next script challenge will conveys a mood, that engages the reader throughout the story’s journey. Pre-Visualization will make a tremendous contribution, in cutting down costs and time both, during Principle Photography to Post Editing. Do your own Post-Production if you can. This will only empower you as a full-fledged filmmaker and get you, better, prepared for your next masterpiece!