New Form is showcasing three specific short films at AFF 2017 to highlight new additions to the digital entertainment studio's next group of wonderful content. Our Gadi Elkon got to email interview the filmmakers of each short.
SMALL TALK – "Is a musical Rom Com in the style of Nora Ephron, but with songs. When exes Teddy and June bump into each other on the street, it opens up an emotional can of worms and the prospect that they might get back together, but should they?"
Small Talk – Created and Directed by Becca Gleason – Our Email Questionnaire with Becca:
1. I love the musical quality to the short, are you a fan of musicals in general? Or was it due to the casting, especially Leah being the female lead?
I’m so glad you enjoyed it! It was definitely an intimidating project to take on, especially the musical aspect. I love musicals — both theater and film — and watched quite a bit of them in preparation for the short, but I can’t say I’m an expert in any sense of the word. When I decided to take this on, I knew the only way I’d be able to pull off anything remotely decent would be to surround myself with people who understood song and dance much better than I did. I’m a tone-deaf, Jewish girl from Ohio and I was lucky enough to convince some brilliant cast and crew to take this crazy leap with me as I tried something I’d never done before. Die-hard musical wunderkinds like my friend Kathryn Gallagher, who wrote the song, and Eamon Foley, our choreographer saved my ass on multiple occasions.They’re my baby geniuses.
Casting the film came second. Leah is one of my best friends from high school and when this opportunity to work with her professionally arose, I convinced her to get on a plane to LA. Nick, our male lead, was friends of friends and came highly recommended to me. I’d seen him in a few things but I had absolutely zero idea he could sing! He sent me some of his original music and I was completely blown away. Once everyone was in the same room, and the song was recorded, my job was half over.
2. The short starts from the guy's perspective, what made you go this route? Where did the original idea to meld musical with a chance encounter come from?
I wanted this short to have pretty even POVs so the audience could feel what they were both feeling while they were both feeling it. Since I knew we were going to end with that shot of Leah, starting with Nick seemed to make the most sense.
As far as the concept goes, I tend to gravitate to exploiting real, grounded moments and then attempting to heighten them. Everyone knows what it’s like to run into an ex somewhere unexpected. It can be gut-wrenching. A very scary unknown slaps us in the face and there’s nothing we can do about it. It was that very simple yet relatable set up that made me gravitate toward the musical structure — and I thought it would be very cinematic to recreate that emotion through song and dance… an Anti-High School Musical.
3. The dance sequences are extremely well shot and edited. Can you talk about the camera setups, the number of takes, the design of the dance and the edit process for you? Also how open were Nicholas and Leah?
Oh man, I’d have to talk to my editor about how many takes and set ups. We were racing the sun. We shot in early May so our nights weren’t long. Our takes were pretty lengthy, which was deliberate. I didn't want this to feel too cutty. Ben Hardwicke, my DP, essentially rehearsed the dance alongside Nick and Leah — that way, he was able to always know where they’d be, and he’d adjust the camera accordingly. Funny enough, everything leading up to the dance actually took the longest. Once we were locked on that basketball court, Nick and Leah had free rain and we were able to shoot it out relatively quickly. Everyone was really down to dig in and try something new.
4. Can you talk about NEW FORM championing the short and will this lead to a series?
New Form is great! I can’t say enough nice things about them. Not many companies would be willing to give a young director a chance to try something totally foreign to them — in my case, a musical. The fact that they encouraged me to experiment was a dream come true.
Hopefully this will lead to something! That’s what we all dream about, right?
5. What's up next for you personally?
I’m currently in post production on my first feature! We wrapped principal photography in Atlanta two weeks ago.
PRESS START – "When a nerdy gamer Phil unlocks magic that turns into a game, he uses the abilities to remake decisions, make better choices and 'advance' in his game of life. But now that he's in the game, Phil will have to face the personal consequences for cheating at life and ultimately the powerful man who created this magic and started Phil down this path.
Press Start – Created by Evan Beamer and Dave Child – Our Email Questionnaire:
1. Love this modern gamer version of groundhog day! Casting wise y'all have been able to get big names in other films like Armed Response, what stood out about Darrell and Alison?
Apart from being old pros, Darrell & Allison are also old friends of mine (Evan's). Look for Darrell in some amazing new stuff – like the Martin McDonagh feature Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, and the upcoming HBO show Barry starring Bill Hader. We love that Darrell – despite being one of the coolest people we know – can instantly slip into the nerdy awkwardness the role is saturated in. Allison tends to get cast in quite a few TV dramas (Terra Nova, Incorporated,13 Reasons Why), but she is just a hilarious human being… So whenever we have a chance to try and put her in a comedy, we do!2. Where did y'all shoot and is the roof the same building as the restaurant?We shot at a great little Italian joint in North Hollywood called Victorio's Pizzeria. Be sure to check out the live music every Thursday and Sunday. You may be the only person in the audience under 65 years old, but you won't regret it! Also they make their own ravioli.And yes! The roof is on the same building as the restaurant.
3. I adore the save point moment as the kiss! How many alternative takes or elements did you have for the "restarts" or did we see everyone?
Ha, they definitely kissed quite a few more times than that while we were shooting… We forced them to kiss A LOT.We're going to be pitching this idea as a half hour series – and in that pilot script the reloads escalate the stakes quite bit more. Don't wanna give it all away, but it's fun! Let us make it!4. What are your favorite game platforms and games to play? How has the project being taken in by the NEW FORM family change it's trajectory? Any hopes to see it as a series?Dave is more into the RPG, Zelda, Skyrim adventure games, where Evan really bounces around from shooters (PUBG!), to indie platformers (Cuphead!), to local arena games (TowerFall, Smash Brothers). Dave is rocking the PlayStation and Nintendo consoles, and Evan just picked up a new PC for Steam.New Form gave this project life! Couldn't have done it without them… So thankful. They are helping us try and shepherd it to the next level as a series. There are a million places we could take this story — and we're really hoping we have the opportunity to show you!5. What are y'all working on next.Listen, Mr. or Ms. Selig Film News: We Have Ideas. Too many ideas. The inventory is FILLED with ideas. Put us in the room, put us in the elevator, put us on an escalator – we will pitch like it's our job. (It's our job.) Feature, series, whatever – you name it – we are working on it. We have a rather twisted adaptation of Peter Pan in the works that's currently exciting us the most.Evan keeps busy directing commercials – he's coming off of one for some booze this week. Dave keeps busy acting and doing standup – you can see him in the new music video by The Knocks' called "Trouble" in which he dances with an awesome alien.
LOVE ME DO – "When a closed-off young woman's alcholic father moves in with her fresh off rehab, she must deal with his newly zen, emotional mindset, while confronting the possiblity that she's more like her father than she'd care to admit. LOVE ME DO is a dark comedy about a parent-child relationship where the roles are reversed.
Love Me Do – Created Gaby Dunn – Our Email Questionnaire with Gaby –
1. What made you dive into the autobiographical realm and tell such a close story? How tough was the process of casting your dad's character?
A big part of any project is asking yourself, "Why are you the person to tell this story?" Whenever I would recount my childhood with an addict parent, which to me seemed boring because I'd lived it, to anyone who'd had a "normal" childhood, the looks on their faces told me this was worth telling. And more importantly, when I told it to anyone else with a similar experience, there was always some aspect they really related to and that felt cathartic for them.
So if I have the privilege of being able to talk about alcoholism, addiction, messed up parental relationships and it can help people? Then I should bleed my experiences dry and do it! Most of my projects have an element of autobiography to them because nothing I can think up is weirder than what really happened.
As for casting my dad, I always knew I wanted to write something about my relationship with him so when I met Carlos Alazraqui at a table read for a different project , I just felt he was "the one." I emailed Carlos after the table read (VERY NERVOUSLY) to ask if he'd be open to reading the script and he was. And then he did so much research. I sent him family photos. I sent him an interview I'd done with my dad, and my dad's Instagram account. And he really nailed the performance. But yeah, it's very surreal to cast your "dad."
2. You've been a real icon in the digital age for young filmmakers and have been open and honest about sexuality in your projects. Can you talk about the importance technology has had on expanding filmmaking but also about showcasing all types of people?
Thank you! I love that the characters in this project are marginalized people but the project isn't about that. Amber is queer. Taylor is queer and black. Yasmin is black. But that isn't the entirety of their storylines in the way it might be on a traditional platform like TV. The creative control of digital allows me to make that stuff an aspect of the character, particularly Amber's bisexuality as it's who I really am, but it's not her biggest problem at all. Because I got control we got to have queer characters, queer actors, a queer director, women of color actors, etc and really fill out the cast, crew, and the world with how the world really looks.
3. What made you go with the red frames over another color? As a whole how much fun was the wardrobe and look of the film?
I actually wear those red frames in real life and then wardrobe gave another pair to the actress playing young Amber, the amazing Kendall Nicole. It was a great way to show a through-line in that Amber's always been a little quirky and off-beat.
The look of the film was from the brilliant mind of Bryce Morgan, our queer lady director, who loves to play with color and unique shots. I adore the way she did the flashback sequences, which take place in 1997. Wardrobe also killed it with little Amber's overalls and Alex Mack-looking backwards cap. But the thing that really undid me was Carlos' wardrobe for Virgil which is ripped directly from an outfit my dad wore in 1997 — cowboy hat, aviator sunglasses, boots, big belt buckle, fleece lined jacket. I sent them several photos of him to work off of and they made Carlos look exactly like him.. I cried when he came out of the wardrobe tent. The resemblance is spooky. It was fun to recreate a scene from my real childhood with actors that really look like us, but it was also very emotional in a way I didn't expect.
4. I love the way you edited the "tripping" scene. How long was the shoot and how much footage were you working with in the edit? Also the choice to mix lines in different bodies when did that part come into the edit?
That was all our editor Anjoum Agrama, who is an incredible woman. The shoot was 2 days and we had a good amount of footage but not too much as Bryce is very intentional with her shots. (No David Fincher madness here.) The overlapping was all Anjoum and Bryce. Bryce wanted it to seem like a real drug trip in that time is nonlinear and I love writing projects where time isn't necessarily happening in real time, so it was a likeminded collaboration there.
5. New Form is another wonderful outlet can you expand on how it's helping put out unique material and how it's helped you in particular? Also any hints to what you have coming out in the future, youtube or other?
New Form saw my vision and gave me the money and resources to make it a reality which is literally all any creator can ask for. It was a total dream come true to be able to shoot this and show this to fans who want to see more from me — What's my perspective? What can I contribute to queer cinema? How do I portray the deeper parts of my real life? Our budgets for YouTube are non-existant so to be given a budget and told to make whatever I wanted? I felt like I was so overly ready to get this out there.
In the future, we're pitching Love Me Do as a TV show! I also have a nonfiction book coming out from Simon and Schuster in Fall 2018 based on my financial podcast called Bad With Money. Season three of the pod should be coming in January. I also just completed another short film, "Dick Sisters" that I co-wrote and starred in (it's a bisexual murder comedy) that we're submitting to festivals and want to become a feature. I don't know! I'm always working!
For more information on NEW FORM please go here.
New Form is holding a panel later today at 3:30pm at the State Theater if you want to see the films and meet the creators and Stacey Crawford from New Form.