Published on February 24th, 2017 | by Biz Books
The Biz Interview: Crazy8s 2017 Filmmakers
BizBooks.net is pleased to support Crazy8s 2017!
With this year’s Gala screening and party happening on February 25th, we spoke to four of the filmmaking teams who managed to make short films in just 8 days: The Affolter Brothers (The Undertaker’s Son), Trevor Carroll (No Reservations), Lelinh Du (Anh Hung), and Mike Jackson (Woodman).
Can you start by telling us a little bit about you and your film?
The Affolter Brothers: We are the Affolter Brothers, a team of four brothers that share the writer / director / producer credit on all of our projects. We’ve been working together since we were little kids, and in a professional capacity for over 10 years. We’ve shot short films, commercials, music videos and web series, and are working towards our first feature. Our Crazy8s film is called The Undertaker’s Son. It’s a western about a young boy named Christopher who joins his father at work for his first day of learning the macabre family business of undertaking.
Trevor Carroll: I’m a First Nations artist from Sudbury, Ontario. The film is a satirical look at a corporation attempting to install a pipeline under an unsuspecting Caucasian suburb.
Lelinh Du: My name is Lelinh Du and I am the director of the 2017 Crazy8s film, Anh Hung.
I went to Capilano University for the motion picture arts program and went straight into the film industry.
Anh Hung is a story about a young girl growing up in a Vietnamese household as a first-generation Canadian. She discovers the real truth about her brother–someone she looks up to as a hero.
Mike Jackson: I’m a film editor by trade, but over the years I’ve directed a number of short films and music videos. Our Crazy8s project Woodman is by far the biggest and most elaborate film I’ve ever directed. It’s a story inspired by the idea of what would happen if there was no Blue Fairy, and Pinnochio grew up to be a sad, middle-aged man.
Can you tell us about how the idea for your film came to be and what your creative process was like in making it come to life?
The Affolter Brothers: We’re big fans of the western genre, but are always trying to tell character-driven stories and put original spins on tried and true genres. The idea for The Undertaker’s Son came about when we started thinking about westerns in general, and how the focus so often is on violence and deaths, but so often the main repercussion of those actions rarely goes beyond vengeance. We thought it’d be interesting to explore the lives that are affected by the deaths, and take a look at the people responsible for cleaning up all the messes created by the violence and gunplay so often depicted in the genre.
Our creative process for this film was very similar to most of our projects – a team effort. We craft the story together, then one of us will usually put it onto paper, then we rewrite together and go through the script line-by-line as a group. We talk about the intent behind every line in the script, and discuss the tone and visual aesthetic at length just between the four of us, so that by the time we start meeting with our department heads, we as brothers are on the same page about all the details, and therefore crew members can come to any one of us at anytime throughout the process with questions and get the same answer from any brother.
Trevor Carroll: The idea came while I was researching the topic of Standing Rock. I saw there was a lot of negativity towards the First Nations community, based off of claims and secondhand knowledge that people had about the circumstances of how things transpired. I thought it would be interesting to see how things unfolded if the tables were turned, and that was my goal when writing this: changing perspectives.
Lelinh Du: It was inspired by my own upbringing. I myself am a first-generation Canadian growing up with immigrant parents.
With stories from my brother (a person slightly similar to my lead character, Tuan) Frazer and I managed to come up with a story.
Mike Jackson: My good friend and writer of the project, Peter New, came up with the idea of Pinnochio as a grown man several years back, but we could never quite figure out what the story was. When Crazy8s rolled around, I realized that with the internet, Pinnochio could lie all he wants and never be seen, his nose growing longer and longer, becoming a cage that traps him. Peter ran with that, creating a script that really moved and excited everyone involved.
What was the most memorable moment for you in the Crazy8s process?
The Affolter Brothers: We’d say the most memorable moment for us was the 3rd day of shooting. We had two great days in the can already, including some great performances from our leads, and on the 3rd day were shooting our big opening of the film that takes place in the town’s main thoroughfare. It was important for us to create a world that the audience could buy into at the beginning of the film, so we had horses, wagons, 50 background performers, a whole truckload of set dec, we made an entire town come to life, and shot it all as a oner that moves throughout the entire town. It was quite a spectacle on the day, with so many different elements in play, and we rehearsed for hours before we started shooting. When shooting started, everything came to life just as we had hoped it would, and it was such an amazing moment of satisfaction to look around at it all and feel proud of what we had accomplished.
Trevor Carroll: Realizing that my film was being made out of all of the applicants – it was such a great feeling to hear that I was going to make a film I wrote.
Lelinh Du: The support I’ve had in this process is probably something I’ll remember forever. It is amazing how many people are willing to give you as much as they can for free just to help your vision.
Mike Jackson: There’s so many. Assembling a fantastic team, working with such incredibly talented people. Getting to see Peter New in his Woodman make-up the first time; Seeing our set lit for the first time, filled with 600 feet of nose; Watching 10 people raise our 20′ tall rear-projection screen; Actually catching a sunny magic hour after weeks of snow and rain.
What would your advice be for filmmakers considering Crazy8s?
The Affolter Brothers: Make the most of your prep time! Believe it or not, making a film in 8 days isn’t as crazy as it sounds if you’ve used your prep time efficiently and have planned it all out ahead of time. The prep time is what should really be crazy, but if you do it right, you can have all the important elements in place before the 8 days even begin, and at that point it’s just about executing what you’ve planned. As we learned from our film instructor Seanna McPherson at Capilano University, plan the shoot and shoot the plan!
Trevor Carroll: Be flexible. There is a lot of things that can go wrong on set or during the editing process that will require you to think on your feet.
Lelinh Du: Pitch a story that can be made. I know it sounds simple, but it helps. Stay positive and believe in your story.
Mike Jackson: Know that it’s harder than it looks. I’m a veteran of many 48 hour film competitions, so I thought I was prepared, but Crazy8s was so much more challenging. You have JUST enough time and resources to make something truly amazing, with high production values… but it’ll be a mad scramble from start to finish. Make sure you have as many skilled pros on your team as possible – they’ll save your bacon, again and again.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career thus far?
The Affolter Brothers: Treat people well whether they’re your boss or a PA on your film! Everything will always be easier and everyone will have a better experience if you just treat them nicely, with courtesy and respect! It’s not hard to do and it makes a huge difference.
Trevor Carroll: Be firm but fair. Be generous. Reward loyalty. Give back. Don’t overextend. Take risks. Handle a “no” gracefully. It’s the second best answer to “yes”. Stay excited. No one is entitled to anything. Those that earn their keep go further. Know what you want. Get it. Know when to hold em; know when to fold em.
Lelinh Du: Communication is key.
Mike Jackson: It’s all about people. If you’re skilled and fun to work with, your fellow filmmakers will rally around you. And you need to be there for them, too. We’ve chosen one of the hardest professions to get ahead in, and have opportunities to be truly creative in, but we’re all in it together.
What books would be valuable for a filmmaker to have read before participating in Crazy8s?
Trevor Carroll: I only read comic books.
Lelinh Du: Any books that inspire you.
Mike Jackson: Anything relevant to filmmaking in general, and your particular area of expertise. As an editor, I found Walter Murch’s In the Blink of an Eye invaluable. As a screenwriter, The Elements of Screenwriting by Irwin Blacker. As a director, Film Directing Shot by Shot by Steven Katz, and the follow-up Cinematic Motion. I’m also very fond of the Screencraft series from Focal Press. Each book is about a specific area of film making, with interviews with some of the best artists in the history of cinema.
What other projects are you working on and where can we find out more about you?
The Affolter Brothers: We’ve got a number of projects in development, from animated series to live-action features.
You can find out more about us at: www.affolterentertainment.com
Facebook: Affolter Entertainment
Trevor Carroll: Battlefield Fight League – BC’s Premiere Mixed Martial Arts Organization – we put on 8 events a year and had one the day after we wrapped Crazy8s. Next one is April 29th at the Hard Rock Casino in Coquitlam.
Lelinh Du: As of right now, I am only thinking of Crazy8s. But I hope to continue giving myself as many opportunities as I can to direct and keep practicing what I love.
Practice makes perfect!
Mike Jackson: I recently edited Dead Rising: Watchtower, directed by Zach Lipovsky, and I’m currently doing visual effects on his DisneyXD show Mech-X4. I’m also hoping to put together funding for my first feature, a time-travel comedy. You can find me at www.steampoweredfilms.ca, though my website is long overdue for an update
Thanks to these filmmakers for speaking with us!
You can see all of these great filmmakers and their films at the Crazy8s 2017 Gala on Saturday, Feb 25th. For ticket information please visit Crazy8s.film!