We were pleased to screen Brendan Cherry’s short film “Chess 4 Life” a the 2012 ITSA Film Festival. So for those of you who saw it as well, here’s a great interview with this young filmmaker:
1. Is the process of making a film one of self-discovery for you?
I would say at this stage it probably still is. Often I am forced to go from one extreme to the other (for example in a 48 hour film contest).
2. What age were you when filmmaking went from a hobby to something else?
Initially I thought it was when I was about 13 when I decided that I would love to do film making as a professional craft, but I don’t think it was until I was about 17 that I really took this seriously.
3. What limitations do you have when working on a film? Or what area would you like to learn more about?
Probably the biggest limitation I have currently when working on my films is that I do everything myself; literally everything except acting and holding the boom. While I enjoy this level of creative freedom sometimes it limits how much I can get done in a certain amount of time and it also means that occasionally I have a few continuity issues as I generally focus on a lot of other elements as I usually have a moving camera.
4. How do you finance your films?
To put it simply, I don’t. Generally I try to avoid having to pay for anything in my film, but when I do, say for specialised props or music, it’s coming straight from my pocket.
5. As a creative person, you have to be faithful to your own vision. Is there a time where you haven’t been true to your art and self-expression?
I don’t like stereotypical horror. An assignment that I had to do at high school was making a one minute intro to a typical horror film. This challenged me slightly but it wasn’t a major assessment and it was just for school. As of yet I haven’t had a time where I’ve been particularly annoyed at doing something I wouldn’t normally make in my films, however I am sure I will meet a time where my vision will be challenged and I may have to stand up for my own beliefs.
6. If money wasn’t a worry for you, choose a leading actor and actress to star in one of your films? Why?
There are two actors who I really enjoy watching on screen: Johnny Depp and Simon Baker. I love how Johnny Depp seems to fit into any weird and wonderful character the Director has given him. I love Simon Baker’s screen presence and his ability to seemingly change his emotions quickly, plus he’s Australian!
7. When did you make your first ‘real’ film? What made that film feel different than others?
When I was about 16 (2010) I made a film that felt like a real triumph. I recreated a scene from Sherlock Holmes angle for angle, shot for shot. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WI-LCYAbgcs) It was immediately after this that I began to feel like I was actually pushing forward with each film. I think what made it better than anything before was the time and thought taken getting each shot, as well as the costumes and locations. Since that film all my films have involved some form of location scouting as well as rehearsals for each shot. It also made me a little more picky in a way that it means I will not stop trying to get a particular shot until I have actually accomplished what I set out to do, so any mistake must be done again.
8. College or no college? Do you recommend it for filmmakers?
I’m currently making this decision myself, finishing off Year 12 exams right now. I think the biggest benefit of a film school is the professional contacts that you make. I’d love to skip film school and just start making my own films without school limitations but the range of equipment as well as immediate professional advice and direct connection into the industry seems a pretty big benefit.
9. What are some qualities you have that have made it easy for you to make a film?
I consider myself relatively patient and this helps a lot I think. Because I often want the perfect shot but may not have the perfect actor it requires a bit of self-control not to get annoyed at your failing actor.
I also tend to pick up things fairly quickly and have a decent memory, so the times that I have borrowed a more complex camera from a professional I’ve often been able to fully utilise its advanced features from a combination of quick trial and error and any quick tips someone may have given me regarding the camera.
10. In your eyes, what or who is a director?
The person who holds the creative vision and has the ability and responsibility to control everything on a film set regardless of who they’re having to deal with.
11. What skills do you think are necessary to help a filmmaker make it in Hollywood?
Obviously I’m not in Hollywood yet but I think being an all-around film maker is best. The ability to fulfil any role be it Producer/Director/DP/Boom operator/AD/gaffer to even acting I think is handy. This will probably get you placed on the widest and most frequent sets possible.
12. Advice for new filmmakers?
As I said earlier the first film that made me think about what I was doing was remaking a scene from Sherlock Holmes. Choose a simple few minute section from a film you enjoy with little to no special effects and attempt to recreate it. Also don’t give in. I’ve had so many people tell me how hard it is to get into the industry and some even telling me that I’m stupid thinking I can get anywhere with it. It seems everyone has a friend or relative who is a failed actor or film maker. Think positively J
Here’s more information about Brendan:
I’ve recently completed a relatively major film for school. It is the first where I have truly explored my own techniques of story telling as my previous two big films were either based on a short story or were not in a standard linear narrative format. It is by far my favourite film, both because I think my level of skill is highly demonstrated and because the story is one that I have wanted to make for quite a few years. Here is the link (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYJOsRWuEJg unfortunately it is currently private due to school reasons but I expect it to be allowed to be public late September.)
Chess 4 Life is based on a short story which I read quite a number of years ago. Like all books I read I imagine them very visually and think of them not too unlike a film. At the beginning of 2011 while trying to decide on a film idea I thought of contacting the author of the story. To my joy it was out of print meaning that it was somewhat easier to get permission to make a short film based on it. The difficulty with the story to film conversion is that the short story is in first person meaning that the strange happenings are easily explained.
Sherlock Holmes Remake http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WI-LCYAbgcs
‘Horror’ intro http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orZD0fN_Fbw
‘Action’ Intro http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5iLVkxIgoE&feature=relmfu
Debt help: No Place to Be http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dp7gJ0YWZqI&feature=related
Unblemished: My first 48 Hour film attempt http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7MsttRKuYI&feature=relmfu
Fallen (release pending…) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYJOsRWuEJg