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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
Aug. 6, 2008 | 7:24 PM

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Hollyshorts Filmmaker Interview: SIDE EFFECTS MAY INCLUDE

An Interview with Shad Clark, writer/director/composer of Side Effects May Include

What is your short film about?

SIDE EFFECTS MAY INCLUDE begins as an antidepressant commercial with the standard innocuous voice-over—only the list of possible side effects keeps going and going and spills into the next commercial, and the next. And as the side effects grow increasingly disturbing, so does everything we see. Ultimately, reality is revealed in ways it’s never marketed.

How did you get the idea?

Watching TV. Most commercials present an insulated world where everyone’s ecstatic no matter what they’re doing or how mundane their activities or how unsettling the complications of taking a particular drug. And the side effects of certain products—fast food, for example—aren’t mentioned at all. If corporations didn’t sell an illusion, certain products wouldn’t make money. And that’s the bottom line. Despite appearances, these products aren’t about making everyone happy.

What are some of the films and filmmakers that inspire you?

I’m a great admirer of David Fincher’s work—especially FIGHT CLUB, pretty much anything by Ingmar Bergman but particularly PERSONA and HOUR OF THE WOLF, David Cronenberg—especially VIDEODROME, anything Krzysztof Kieslowski but particularly THE THREE COLORS and THE DOUBLE LIFE OF VERONIQUE, Todd Field’s LITTLE CHILDREN, Alfonso Cuar?n’s CHILDREN OF MEN, Paul Thomas Anderson’s THERE WILL BE BLOOD, Hitchcock’s VERTIGO and REAR WINDOW and PSYCHO, anything Stanley Kubrick, John Frankenheimer’s SECONDS and THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, THE THIRD MAN, 28 DAYS LATER, the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, BLADERUNNER, pretty much anything Akira Kurosawa. I love Spike Jonze’s BEING JOHN MALKOVICH and ADAPTATION, and Michel Gondry’s ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND—all of which were written by the amazingly imaginative Charlie Kaufman. And, of course, I’m a huge fan of Chris Cunningham—though he seems to have disappeared. I could probably go on—but that’s off the top of my head.

What made you originally want to get into film?

I’ve had an over-active imagination for as long as I can remember. And I’ve always been drawn to movies and books—to storytelling. When I was a kid, I drew a lot and eventually began writing short stories. Somewhere along the line, someone convinced me I was pretty okay at making stuff up. And by this time, I’d become aware of how the sheer artistry of certain films like A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and BLADERUNNER made them stand out—and I was inspired by the potential.

What was the most challenging thing about making your short?

Once I got my head around the fact that I could pull the film off for far less than I initially feared, the most challenging part by far was the animation. I’m no animator. But to make the film as inexpensively as I did, I was already wearing half a dozen hats—What was one more? I took a crash course in 3D animation and spent more than a few long nights waiting for little Pillhead to render. I had to start taking antidepressants.

How did you go about selecting your cast?

I’m fortunate to know quite a few incredibly talented and enthusiastic actors. I met Corbett Trubey, who plays the guy shaving, years ago. We were arrested together once. Corbett was also in ANONYMITY, as was Allan Dorr who plays the medical expert in SIDE EFFECTS. Simone Olsen-Varela, the “Burger Zombie,” is another friend and an up-and-coming actress in her own right. She introduced me to her fellow actress friend, Kelsey Lappa, who plays the “Soda Jerk.” And I’m friends with the little girl—a.k.a. the “Milk Victim,” Ultraviolet, and her parents. Basically, as with the incredibly capable crew, I called in a lot of favors.

What do you hope your short film achieves?

At the very least, I hope it inspires people to question what they’re being sold. We live in a culture where burger commercials are sandwiched between advertisements for weight loss drugs and pills guaranteed to lower your cholesterol. We’re marketed things that are bad for us and then marketed short-term solutions that only further complicate our problems. And as our problems mount, it’s only natural to feel overwhelmed and sad—but that’s not the same as suffering clinical depression. And instead of letting ourselves work through legitimate emotions, we seek another prescription. Considering all that’s wrong in the world, maybe we should be depressed. Or, better yet, motivated to do something. Ultimately, global warming, genocide, poverty, famine, and war don’t go away just because we try to ignore them.

What is your next project?

I have several in various stages of development, though it’s certainly a challenging time for independent filmmakers. Just before the WGA strike, I was happy to learn that Casey Affleck was interested in the lead of my feature scifi thriller OTHERNESS. Of course, then the strike went on for a while, impacting sales at Sundance, and now everyone’s waiting to see if SAG is going to strike. In the interim, I’ve been keeping myself busy. I completed another sci-fi thriller script, THE CENSOR, and also just finished a short story, LITTLE BOY PIG: A GENETICALLY MODIFIED TALE. With the latter, I’m exploring the option of publishing an illustrated book and offering for it a free download from my site. And, as of last week, I’m in pre-production on a new short film that ties into another new feature I’m developing. It’s a highly ambitious project, and I’m also looking into spreading it into other mediums. All in all, I’m very excited about these projects and can’t wait to get them out in the world.

SIDE EFFECTS MAY INCLUDE screens on Saturday, August 9th as part of Show Program #3 which starts at 4:35 PM. Order tickets at Special weekend pass is available for $40 or day passes for $20. Use promo code:  hsffESFPZ

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