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February 16, 2012
- Interview with director Michelle ChenMiao of SON OF THE STARS
November 16, 2011
- An Interview with Moniqua Plante and John Wynn of PILLOW TALK
November 15, 2011
- Interview: Joshua Leonard of HIGHER GROUND
August 25, 2011
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HollyShorts Filmmaker Interview: MELTDOWN
This is a really unusual premise. Tell our readers what your short film is about?
MELTDOWN is about a bunch of food stuck in an overly-cold refrigerator, fighting for their lives against a giant block of ice that threatens to consume them all. It’s a comedy, a drama, a horror movie, and an action movie all bundled into one.
Where did the idea for the story come from?
Well, my fridge actually had a giant block of ice growing inside of it, so part of this movie is based on real life events. December had been a weird month for me, I was pitching on a project that fell through, so in my spout of boredom and unemployed, I figured I could at least film the ice defrosting in time lapse, and have that be that. But then Ryan and I started joking around about a storyline, and we came up with Meltdown. So all told, the seed of our movie came from boredom, unemployment, and out of a failed pitch.
How long did the animation take? Did you use any computer animation to enchance the effects?
Ryan Hendricks, the producer of the movie, was also the puppet master. He built several fully operational puppets made out of real food, and then we operated them with monofilament (fishing wire) to get them to talk. In the case where a wire was caught on camera, I would go in and paint out the wire in post. In a movie containing about 200 shots, we had about 150 VFX shots for wire removals, paint outs, and for some cool frost “growing” shots done by a really talented guy named Ryan Wehner. Shooting took 20 grizzly days.
The filmmakers used lots of mirrors to achieve hard-to-get angles in the tiny fridge.
What other challenges did you face in making the film?
It was a truly disgusting shoot. Myself, Ryan, and our amazing DP Eric Gustavo Petersen would meet in my tiny apartment’s kitchen every morning at 8:00am. Although we were shooting in winter, we had to make sure the door to the fridge was shut often enough, so that our ice block / villain wouldn’t melt. Lighting was also a challenge. We had lots of disussions about what a fridge would look like in its interior while the globe was turned off. Eric ended up using tiny LED lights attached to magnets, which he would then rig and place around the fridge, using the same lighting strategies he would on a large soundstage.
Other than that, playing with real food every day got pretty disgusting. I think I got bacterial conjunctivitis (pink eye) from playing with dirty food for too long.
What do you hope your short film achieves?
When we started making MELTDOWN, Ryan and I were intending to shoot it and finish it in about 3 days and put it up on YouTube. But our DP Eric really pushed us to take our time and make a more quality product. 6 months later, here we are! HollyShorts is our first festival of many that we’re really excited about. Hopefully we can eventually distribute the movie somewhere fun like iTunes if we’re lucky.
What advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers?
Well, we’re still aspiring filmakers, really, so only a fool would take our advice! I guess one thing that I would say is that you should listen to the advice of your friends. My friends—who are both filmmakers and non-filmmakers—have been super helpful to talk to in the process of making this movie, or any movie really. If your friends are smart and can talk to you honestly, they can really help you elevate your movie from let’s say a crappy YouTube video, to something maybe a bit more special.
Which filmmakers inspire you?
Probably even more than filmmakers, I was inspired by specific movies while making Meltdown. Chicken Run, directed by Nick Park and Peter Lord, is one of my favorite animated movies of all time. That movie provided such a great template for us. It’s dark, it’s funny, it’s creepy. It has great, truthful emotions. And it truly makes you root for its characters. I actually ended up using the Chicken Run score for almost all of our temp soundtrack.
What are your future projects?
I hope to stay busy making shorts, commercials, and music videos for a while, until I figure out if there’s a fun feature I want to make. Up next is actually another puppet movie. I’m directing a webseries about a ravenous squirrels on the hunt for blood!
“Meltdown” will be screening during Program 12 on Sunday, August 9th at 8:30 PM. Click here to order tickets. Film Radar readers can receive $10.00 of the All-Access Festival Pass (regular price $50.00) or $5.00 off a daily pass (regular price: $25.00) by mentioning “FilmRadar” at the HollyShorts will call table.