TriBeCa Film Festival 2011 Short Film Exclusives with Director Maggie Kiley and Director Logi Hilmarsson

3 05 2011

TriBeCa Film Festival 2011 online section and the well respected shorts categories really allowed for some real gems.  Director Logi Hilmarsson’s short film, Gravity, makes you question just what the heck is going on in crazy ol’ Iceland.  Director Maggie Kiley’s short film, Some Boys Don’t Leave, is a heart-wrenching look at one fella’s attempt to hold onto a dying relationship.  Both films are perfect examples of the quality that came from this year’s TriBeCa Film Festival and I’d like to share with you the email interviews I conducted with both Directors.

Living in Dallas, Tx does present some difficulties in covering a festival in New York City.  That is unless that festival happens to have one of the more interactive and easy to use online festival sections around.  TriBeCa allows for communication with filmmakers, the ability to screen films on your computer and a slew of other fun things.  One of the films I watched through the Online feature was Maggie’s Some Boys Don’t Leave.

Yep that’s Jessie Eisenberg.  Here is my chat with talented Director Maggie Kiley.

1.  I always like to ask where are you from and when did you first get bitten by the acting bug?

I’m from Rochester, NY and started acting when I was 9- a backyard production of Annie. 

2.  How did NYU help mold you and prepare you for the great work you’ve done at the Atlantic Theater Company?

NYU was a fantastic experience in that I was living in the greatest city in the world and studying under accomplished, working actors. Atlantic was and will continue to be a nurturing artistic home. 

3.  Can you discuss the audition process to get into the highly acclaimed Atlantic Theater Company?

I studied at the Atlantic during college and later interned there. I was fortunate to be given opportunities as a young actor- understudying and playing bit roles. When I was invited to join the company (only 40 members total) it was an amazing honor and I was thrilled. 

4.  At the Atlantic you’ve been able to work with some very talented fellow actors and of course under the direction of some talented directors.  Do you have a particular play that stands out to you?

My two favorites were Tina Howe’s adaptation of Ionesco’s The Lesson because it was incredibly challenging and a beautiful production and Lucy Thurber’s Scarcity- a deeply affecting and incredible piece- an amazing ensemble cast to be part of.

5. For We Own The Night, I’m curious what was it like working with Mr. Gray and also Mr. Duvall, who has visited Dallas quite a few times, what was it like being on set with the Legendary actor?   Also what was it like working so closely with Mark Whalberg?

We Own the Night was actually a very nurturing and supportive set. I had just had my daughter and was just getting back into acting- everyone Mark, Joaquin and the gracious Mr. Duvall were all incredibly kind and friendly- treating me like their equal. I had 3 kids in the film and the 2 yr old had never acted before and wailed for his mother whenever I had to hold him- it was rough!  James Gray is an extraordinary and meticulous director who paid great attention to every detail. I learned so much from watching him. 

SOME BOYS DON’T LEAVE Questions:

1.  What sparked this interesting look at a break-up?  You’ve worked with Jessie back at ATC, was he the obvious first choice for your lead male role?  How did Eloise come about, she’s incredible?

My co writer Matthew Mullen Came up with the initial concept- I wanted to tell a simple yet universal Story. Jesse is a good friend and when it worked out that he could play the boy he became the natural choice. Eloise studied under me at Atlantic via NYU and she was a wonderful addition. 

2.  The amazing ability to capture so many different angles of just the hallway was impressive and one of the obvious reasons for the shorts’ award-winning success.  In particular I was curious about two shots.  One the scene where Jessie’s character drinks the water, what inspired that idea? (It was such a “break up” moment and yet so original – loved that small scene).  Also the “time passing” shots were done great.  How long was the shoot and do you storyboard your work out?

Just four days. My dp and I spent a lot of time together prepping shot lists and the mood of each section. Initially I thought one location would be easy but keeping it visually dynamic was challenging and helped open my mind to the visual story. I love the water glass moment- I had planned to shoot it differently but on the day it accidentally became one shot and I loved it.

3.  The ending of the film is a bit open-ended do you mind if I ask what the ending means to you?

The boy and the girl end when the credits roll… I have an idea of what happens next   But I like leaving it to the individual.  

4.  For the feature length version, are you planning on showing their relationship or the effect of the break-up?

Light Years is a much bigger coming of age story of The Boy. We see the relationship’s beginning and the demise and beyond- and all the rest that comes in between.  Light Years has a new cast- it’s a new piece and  I’m excited for a different collaboration.

5.  Being in Dallas, Tx the Online features at Tribeca has really opened up ability to cover the festival like never before.  How did they approach you about showcasing your short in the Online section as well?

We had an amazing experience at TriBeCa last year and we were thrilled to be included in the online festival this year. Social Media marketing is a wonderful Tool for indie filmmakers and they really encouraged us to embrace the online community.

6.  Do you see yourself transitioning more and more into Directing or is acting still your main passion and priority?

Right now I am really enjoying writing and directing. This is definitely a new direction and a fun progression.

Links:

Director Logi Hilmarsson’s short film, Gravity, has a fun synopsis  “On the surface it is about friendship, love, space aliens, cocaine, and handicaps… not necessarily in that order.”.

Here is our email questionnaire for Director Logi Hilmarsson:

1. What was it like going from your native Iceland to France as a young boy, what was it like growing up in Marseille?  Then you return home when you’re 20, with Reykjavik being labeled “the nightlife capital of the north” i’m curious if you have any fun stories (especially with your other wild jobs – bartending most have been a job filled with wild stories)?  How are the film scenes similar or different between Iceland and France?  Do you feel your style is more French or more Icelandic? 

-It’s a really fine thing to have two Hometowns, other than being Harbors, they have got nothing in common, culturally or climatically. Marseille has got the Reputation of being a crime riddled city, but it is actually in Reykjavik (Mostly during my bar tending years) that I’ve really seen things go out of control. I had quite an experience picking up a big chunk of human ear, putting it on Ice and then chasing the “cannibal” down the street, just to tell one story, (not really fun, but memorable.)

I don’t think my style has any Nationality though. My writing revolves a lot around deconstructing somewhat heavy concepts and then trying to make that entertaining, that might be a French thing.

2.  How did you first break into the film industry?  It sounds like you’ve done most of every type of job you can do on a TV and Film set, was there a particular set that made you really want to direct films eventually? 

-I’ve been wanting to be a professional filmmaker since I was a child, I had done some small P.A things in France but pretty much on the very day I moved in to Iceland I got offered a really nice job digging holes and planting palm trees for the Art Direction department of “Flags of our fathers” that was shot in Iceland to mimic the volcanic beaches of iwo Jima.(Half the country was working on that, so it wasn’t hard getting in) from there I spotted the local people that were in charge, and it’s a very small country so I got some other Jobs… You might grow from being a clapper loader into a focus puller into a Cinematographer. But If you want to be a writer director you kinda have to write and direct a film and if nobody is going to produce it, you have to produce it yourself.

3.  What films or filmmakers have you looked to for inspiration?

-For Gravity, The most obvious one is Encounters of the third kind, I never had it in mind when I was writing and shooting, but When I re watched it the other day I realized how much I had unconsciously taken from that film.

My cinematographer and I watched a Japanese film I love: the taste of tea (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCMCu8c1Uho) which had the look and atmosphere I was going for, but making it slightly darker.

And then in the concept there is Tarkovski’s Stalker and how through dialogue and pacing you can grow into an incredible epic of tremendous scope.

Angry Dancer Questions:

1.  Where does your production company name come from?  Love the logo of the Dancer who did that?  Tell us a bit about the work you Snorri and Haraldur are trying to showcase and film? 

-Snorri came up with the name, I think it has to do with some dialogue in my film mentioning a song called tiny dancer. We had been driving around playing the word game until we settled on Angry Dancer, that was the only one we agreed on. The logo was fun we just took turns doing an angry dance wearing black clothes in front of a white wall, shot it with the macbook webcam and then rotoscoped it in After Effects, It’s Snorri again in the logo.

-Snorri just made a very beautiful and Eerie short called Tvöföld Tilvera (Double existence) it has only had it’s premiere yet at a local Festival but it’ll more than likely be in many places on the circuit this year.

-I am very involved in Nuno, as the co-writer and active producer. But on set and in the editing room Haraldur is in total control, It’s going to be a long short film, which makes it a hard sell, but what I think we have in our hands is quite amazing. At least it will be the most unIcelandic Icelandic Film ever.

2.  The four short films you all have done seem to have a simple structure.  Young Man gets into crazy ass situations (ok a little basic – but the premises of your shorts all seem to have that Young Man vs something element to them), is that intended? 

I Hadn’t noticed that, but now I think I’ll have to break the pattern and make a film about a group of Old women.

3.  What is up next for you all at Angry Dancer? 

-Keeping Gravity and Double existence on the circuit.

-Finishing Nuno

I am about to direct a few music video and am right now in New York at the Tribeca fest trying to find funding or co production deals for future secret projects of mine.

Gravity Questions:

1. Where did this crazy idea come from?  How much did your script change during the filming process and how close or far from the original script is the short film? 

-(I’ll copy paste my directors note it pretty much answers this.)

The starting point to Þyngdarafl was when I wrote this image down on a post-it note: “thee people are on top of a building, waiting for the end of the world, one of them is in a wheelchair”. It wasn’t a groundbreaking idea, but it felt powerful enough to make me feel that I had the first ingredient of a story that seemed intimate and minimalistic but had the potential to grow epic in scope through dialogue and pacing; Tarkofsky’s “Stalker” is a direct influence.

I wanted to tell a Sci-Fi story that could happen today, where the science and the fiction doesn’t surround the characters but comes from them.

In the writing process, the “End of the World” theme mutated and the dark humor angle I had chosen to start with changed into some sort of “sweet drama” as I let the characters, then the actors drive and drag the story and each other – and potentially the viewer too – into different realities.

During rehearsals the actors sometimes came up with better or new lines that I rewrote into the screenplay. I love my stories but I’m not in love with my words, I just need to get the scene to go from A to B and get the gut feeling that it works, so if the Actors alter or add something and it works for me, I’ll keep it.

2.  Where did you shoot and how much footage did you and Omar Jabali gather? Just from the trailer the landscape of location looks utterly beautiful and yet still harsh weather conditions.  How was the comfort of the shoot with weather and the “look” you wanted to capture? How long was your edit and how much footage did you keep out of the short, if any?

We shot in two locations over two days, We had a well connected person make a deal with the gods so we didn’t get a drop of rain or any annoying wind during the whole of the shoot, But as soon as we wrapped a Crazy Storm broke out.

3.  What was the casting process of your actors like? 

I wrote Eva’s part for my friend Magnea, with whom we had to create the character, because she’s nothing like that in eral life. She then helped me find an Actor to play Einar, That’s how the very talented Magnus Gudmundson came in. And I had just worked on a set with Damon and was very impressed by his professionalism and energy(always ready, always in character) and figured that even if he’s not necessarily the right type I had in mind for Atli, we only had two days to shoot the whole thing and he would be really good at keeping the pace, he turned out to be really good at Acting too.

Right now in New York, People keep asking me who this guy is.

4.  What festivals did you apply to?  What was it like when Tribeca contacted you to let you know you’re in the festival?  How has Tribeca treated you so far? 

Plenty of festivals, sometimes you get in, sometimes you don’t

there is a list on our website(of the ones we got into):

www.angrydancer.com

Getting selected to Tribeca really made my day, for many days, and its treating me amazingly.

5.  Where does Gravity go from here?

We’re still looking for a good distribution deal. So It’ll be on the circuit some more, might end up on some Tv Channels short film programing. And when All that’s over, If I haven’t sold away the rights, I’ll put it online in it’s entierty.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our look into these two talented Directors.

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